The ATP Tennis tour has now moved away from the European lay and grass courts and has now embarked on to the hard court season. It is the first time in many years that World Number One, Roger Federer has entered this phase of the season without having won one of the year’s Grand Slam events. He lost in the semi-finals of the Australian Open to eventual winner, Novak Djokovic and was then unable to take the French crown from Rafael Nadal, who won his fourth French Title in a row. Worse still was Federer’s defeat at Wimbledon, once again to Nadal in what has been described as the greatest tennis match ever witnessed.
This leaves Federer with just one Grand Slam title left, the US Open, which he will defend at the end of August. It could be his last stand as a Grand Slam title holder. Already many tennis observers are writing the great man off, believing that he will lose his World Number One spot to Nadal by the end of the year. Federer however remains favourite to win the US Open at 5/4 and Nadal is currently 5/2. Nadal has not had the greatest of times at Flushing Meadow and is yet to get past the quarter final stage. It is true that the surfaces do not suit his game but his win Wimbledon victory is proof of how is all round game continues to improve and it is surely an event that he will target, if not this year then certainly next.
Perhaps the threat to Federer’s last remaining Grand Slam crown will come from the Serb, Djokovic. With the Australian Grand Slam already in his bag the world number three will be looking to go one better this year. Federer defeated him in the final last year but Djokovic is a year older now and in that year he has matured at a rapid rate and is now playing on his favoured surface. He has also had a couple of invaluable wins over Federer; firstly the Australian Open Semi-final victory, but prior to that Djokovic beat him at the Rogers Cup event in Toronto. These are victories that if nothing else will unnerve the Swiss and after suffering the loss of his beloved Wimbledon crown to Nadal, doubts will surely linger of a similar occurrence to Djokovic at Flushing Meadow. Djokovic can be backed at 4/1 to win the US Open.
Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are the top three players in the world and are so far ahead of the 4th player, Nikolay Davydenko, that it is difficult to look outside of them to win all the Tennis Grand Slam tournaments over the next couple of years. Nadal said recently that he thought Britain’s Andy Murray could be one player who could challenge them and possibly the number two Swiss player, Stanislav Wawrinka is another but they will have be in great form and will have to play divinely well if they are to penetrate what has become the holy trinity of tennis in the US Open .
Rod Rowley is a tennis and golf journalist who has worked for many large UK media publications.