Jerome Manson is a sports enthusiast who enjoys both watching games and writing about them. When he is not cheering on his team from the stands, Jerome is blogging about the US Open for selectaticket.com.
The ATP is a proverbial king of the hill. One player is hot, the rest of the players try to knock him off the spot. Then anther gets hot and the same cycle continues. This has proved to be the case for years in men’s tennis. Novak Djokovic is the current leader of the “Big Four” – which also includes Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Rafael Nadal – but it likely won’t stay this way for long. With Andy Murray’s seizing of the gold medal in the London Summer Olympics and a quick turnaround to take the home US Open in August, he has complicated matters by squeezing into a small group of dominating tennis players previously known as the Big Three. While Djokovic has already claimed the Australian Open, three Grand Slams remain to be decided.
He never relaxes during a match. You can tell by his serious demeanor and dogged persistence. On top of this, Djokovic continues to play at the top of his game. He’s already got one Grand Slam under his belt in 2013, and if he can somehow wrestle Roland Garros away from Nadal, he should have a good shot at taking Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He’s got great court vision and agility to anticipate the location of his opponents’ attacks. His backhand is a primary weapon and he can be lethal from anywhere on the court. He’s received praise from a number of past greats, including Pete Sampras, who said of Djokovic winning all four Grand Slams in a calendar year, “…incredible and Novak’s very capable of doing it.”
Currently ranked #2 in the world behind Djokovic is Andy Murray. He put up a good fight against Djokovic at the Australian Open, losing 5-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 (Murray beat Federer in the semi-finals to make it to that point). He’s only lost one other match besides that second-place finish and that came in the quarterfinals at Indian Wells against Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro. He’s won 2 tournaments in 2013 and 19 overall matches so far. Murray proved he belonged in the illustrious Big Four by winning both the Olympic medal and U.S. Open, his first grand slam title. Prior to his win in 2012, he had competed in 4 different Grand Slam titles matches, but wasn’t able to capture any of them. He looks to continue nipping at the heels of Djokovic in 2013.
Ending 2012 rather poorly, Federer hasn’t necessarily wow-ed anyone through the first quarter of 2013. He hasn’t won a tournament yet this year and has only won about 77% of his matches. He lost to Andy Murray in the semi-finals of the 2013 Australian Open, lost to Frenchman Julien Benneteau in the quarterfinals at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, and lost to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals at Indian Wells. While currently ranked #3 in the ATP Rankings, the 31-year old Swiss star is in danger of dropping out of the top 4. Once Roland Garros hits, we should have a good idea of how much Federer has left as he will have had a couple additional months to get back to top form. Federer is the biggest question mark of the Big Four.
He’s been a dominant figure in tennis for almost a decade, but some forget that the Spanish star is only 26 years old. His career record sits at 600-123 and he’s won a Grand Slam tournament 11 times. This doesn’t diminish the fact that Nadal continues to excel on the tennis court. He was hit by the injury bug harshly in 2012 and had a 7-month layoff in order to allow his knees to fully recuperate. Early in 2013, it appears Nadal hasn’t missed a beat. He’s 17-1 so far in 2013, with his only loss coming against Horacio Zeballos in the Chile Open during early February. Other than that, he’s won 3 titles this year and looks poised to win his fourth straight French Open title come late May.