Djokovic Still Tops as 2015 Season Begins

by John on December 31, 2014

Nole at Dubai

The calendar flips to a new year tomorrow and the 2015 ATP World Tour kicks off Sunday at Brisbane for another highly competitive season. My thoughts on what has been and what lies ahead. One thing is for sure, Novak Djokovic is the best player on the tour right now and should be again at this time next year. Rafael Nadal, who ended 2013 ranked No. 1 in the world, begins the year at No. 3 after an injury-plagued 2014 campaign. The past year saw not only Nadal’s slippage in the rankings, but also a shakeup and reordering in the Big Four, who have won 36 of the past 39 Grand Slams. Djokovic recaptured No. 1 and 33-year-old Roger Federer, tapping the Fountain of Youth, battled the Serb for the top slot all the way until the end of the season to finish No. 2. Stanislas Wawrinka, escaping the shadow of fellow countryman Federer, won the Australian Open and ended up No. 4, supplanting Big Four regular Andy Murray. Murray, coming off back surgery after the 2013 U.S. Open, never completely regained his form and finished No. 6. The Scot will get his mojo back, I’m sure, and reclaim membership in the Big Four before the new year is out. Despite U.S. Open winner Marin Cilic and Wawrinka crashing the Grand Slam party in 2014, I see the old order returning and the Big Four dominating the majors for at least one more year. With all the injuries Nadal has endured over the last nine years, one has to wonder if the battle-worn Spaniard can climb to the top of the rankings one more time. Or for that matter equal or surpass Federer’s record of 17 Grand Slam titles. Nadal has 14. However, as a recent interview with Nadal indicates, the quest for No. 1 won’t get top billing now. The Spaniard wants longevity. “What I won’t do is put at risk the best years of my career to get to the number one spot,” Nadal said. “It won’t be anymore an objective for me.” Federer’s 17? Nadal didn’t say. That number isn’t a constant anyway as I see it. Federer, based on his newfound, aggressive, net-charging game has as good a shot as anyone to win Wimbledon in 2015 and pad his record. In my crystal ball the new year shapes up like this: Djokovic wins the Australian, Nadal bags the French (bold prediction), Federer captures Wimbledon, and either Nole or Murray, probably Nole, wins the U.S. Open. Nole, Fed and Rafa will finish ranked the same as this year, with Murray No. 4. The most likely candidates to upset this scenario and crack the Big Four are Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic and Wawrinka, again.

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