The new Association of Tennis Professionals Men’s rankings came out Monday. In the previous set of rankings, no Americans were listed in the top 20 for the first time since 1973, the year when the classification began, and Roger Federer was sitting at number five — his lowest since ranking fourth in 2003.
The new rankings changed all that, just in time to generate some buzz ahead of the U.S. Open’s August 26 start date. John Isner, the six-foot-ten American who is best known for being part of the longest match in tennis history, has jumped into 14th place from 22nd– the highest climb in the top 30. Isner made the leap by winning the BB&T Atlanta Open at the end of July, reaching the finals at the Citi Open in Washington D.C., and beating three top-ten players at the Western & Southern Open this past weekend: Novak Djokovic, Martin Del Potro and Milos Raonic. While he heads into the U.S. Open as the American’s best chance for the victory that they’ve fallen short of every year since Andy Roddick won it in 2003, it is going to be an uphill battle for the towering 28-year-old.
Federer’s ranking at number five was a jolt, but his two-spot drop represents the first time he has entered his most historically successful grand-slam tournament lower than number three since 2002, a year before he won his first grand slam. Federer has looked marginally better in August than he did throughout the beginning of summer, but a straight-set loss to Nadal at the Western & Southern Open keeps him as an unlikely challenger in New York City next week.
Staying put at number one, Novak Djokovic will be looking for his first win since April. Now at number two, Nadal is riding the hot hand and will look to put an exclamation point on his 2013 season with his second grand slam of the year. He has sandwiched a terrible first-round loss at Wimbledon in June with six victories. Third-ranked Andy Murray has been quiet since his historical win at Wimbledon, but will be one to keep an eye on next week. David Ferrer, in fourth place, hasn’t won since February and has never won a grand slam in his career. Tomas Berdych and del Potro leap past Federer at numbers five and six, respectively, but will easily drop in the rankings should they bow out early at the U.S. Open. Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga (stable at eight), Richard Gasquet (up two places, to nine), and Stanislas Wawrinka (down one to 10), round out the top 10.
While the odds are, as always, in favor of the dominant hands of Djokovic or Nadal to bring home their second title of the year, but someone like Murray — who won the event last season and won the last grand-slam of this season — is just as bankable of a bet. Federer will be on close watch to see if he can salvage an awful 2013. And Isner will be the hometown favorite — much like Murray was in July in front of Great Britain.