What Is Men’s Tennis Going to Serve up in the Last Stretch of the Season?
With Nadal on the march for the Year-end No.1 ranking, Federer looking to end his year in style, del Potro showing signs of life again, Zverev and Dimitrov establishing themselves in the top ten, and new names like Gojowyczk and Dzumhur etched on trophies, the end of the year could serve up some quality tennis for fans. The Tennis Review has five questions on what the end of season is going to serve up for us.
Will Nadal finish No.1?
2017 is shaping up to be a No.1 ending year for Nadal. The Spaniard has 9,465 points, 1960 more than 2nd ranked Roger Federer, who has said he will not be chasing the No.1 ranking, 2,675 more than 3rd ranked Andy Murray who is injured, and 5155 points above fourth placed Alexander Zverev, so it looks like as long as Nadal puts in some strong performances here and there over the next few months a fourth year end No.1 finish is his for the taking.
In the years Nadal has finished year-end No.1 (2008, 2010, 2013), he has had a solid Indoor season in two of them, winning Tokyo and reaching the ATP WTF finals in 2010 and making the finals of Beijing, the semis of Shanghai and Paris, and the final of the WTF in 2013.
Nadal looks like he might not just repeat that kind of success this season, but exceed it. Federer will be his main obstacle – the Swiss might not be hunting No.1, but a high level of play could bring it his way regardless- and Nadal might still be vulnerable to a big hitter or feeling the effects of his very productive season, but it is highly possible the 16 time slam champ won’t have to be brilliant to finish as No.1- he has already put in the hard work this year, now he just has to be good enough, which is what No.1 is, for the most time, all about.
Will Federer end his year as he started it?
Roger Federer will certainly go into the end of season stretch on a high after his Laver Cup experience, a lift he needed after his injury hit US Summer.
Federer has traditionally played some of his best tennis in the end of season stretch and, if he is healthy, will be expected to win titles in Basel and Shanghai, two of the faster surfaces on the tour, and reach the later stages of Paris (where his participation depends on how well he does at Basel and Shanghai) and the WTF.
A run like that still might not be enough for Federer to leap frog Nadal for year end No.1, but winning a couple of big events would put the wind back in his season’s sails and send him flowing in smoothly into the new season and the Australian Open.
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) September 23, 2017
Will del Potro break back into the top 20?
Del Potro breathed some life into a a comeback that was starting to stagnate when he came back from two sets to love down versus Thiem and then showed just why he is considered one of the game’s greatest big match players when he upset Roger Federer on a run to the US Open semis.
— Juan M. del Potro (@delpotrojuan) September 9, 2017
That breathe could get even more fiery now that events like Basel, Vienna Shanghai and Stockholm are coming up. del Potro has won Basel twice (’12, ’13), Vienna once (’12), and been a runner-up (’11), and been a finalist in Shanghai (’13). That end of season pedigree means a healthy del Potro could fly further up the rankings (currently ranked 24) and get a top 16 seed for next season’s Australian Open. In the next couple of months, del Potro’s main points to defend are Stockholm (250) and Basel (50), and with 625 points between him and world No.16 Sam Querrey, some strong runs in the next couple of months could be a welcome jump for del Potro and a sigh of relief for the world’s top 16 as they line up to compete in the first slam of 2017.
Where next for Zverev and Dimitrov?
Zverev and Dimitrov have been the breakthrough players of 2017 and both built on that success going into the US Open, winning ATP 1000 titles in Montreal and Cincinnati, but both also failed to consolidate at the season’s final slam, the two top tenners bowing out in the second round.
The final stretch of the season should inspire both of them with Zverev and Dimitrov having enjoyed success at this stage in years past, Dimitrov winning his first career title in Stockhom (’13) and Zverev in St. Petersburg (’16).
The two should have plenty of motivation, too, with the chance to qualify for the ATP WTF and improve on their already career high rankings. The question is how much do Zverev and Dimitrov have to give after a long season and where will their heads and bodies be- on the court fighting to win points and trophies or on the beach getting some well deserved rest before the upcoming trip Down Under?
Will we see more surprise title winners like Peter Gojowczyk or Damir Dzumhur?
With the end of season stretch hit by injuries and absences, the ATP 250 and 500 events are events where some new names could end up etched on trophies. Already during this end of season stretch, in Metz, Peter Gojowczyk won his first title and climbed to a career high No.66 in the rankings, and Damir Dzumhur won his first title and hit a career high of 40 after winning in St. Petersburg.
Both men had been around the tour a while (Gojowczyk turned pro in 2006, Dzumhur in 2011) and were primed to take their chance when it came their way, and there are plenty of other experienced and skilled players who will be entering the final events of the season hungry to upset the more established higher ranked pros or make the most of collapsed draws on their way to etching their names on to their first tour trophies and giving tennis fans some new names to talk about as this season draws to a close and the new one comes into view.
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