Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Novak - 2014's best, whatever the ranking points

The recent hype surrounding a "battle" for year end number one ATP ranking between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer is purely statistical and unfairly has overshadowed the clear fact that once again Novak has been the player of the year.

Yes, the great Federer may have gathered sufficient points here and there to have challenged the Serbian tally, but even if Roger did surpass Novak in London next week (though after Paris that appears most unlikely) nothing could change the stark comparison of the two seasons at the highest level.

Djokovic won Wimbledon against Federer on the Swiss champ's favourite and most prolific Grand Slam court.  He also was runner-up at Roland Garros, semi finalist in New York and quarter finalist in Melbourne.  Novak also won four Masters titles, across two different surfaces, and both indoor and out.

No one is denying that Roger also had a terrific year, but once again he failed to add to his Grand Slam tournament tally.  One final, two semis and a fourth round at the four GS tournaments and two Masters successes form the basis for statistically a good year, but certainly not warranting consideration of Player of the Year.  So let us not be carried away by the mere total ATP ranking points when judging 2014.
An interesting fact - if Federer finished 2014 ranked number one he would be the first in the Open Era to do so without winning a major in that year, since John McEnroe in 1982.

I sense a double standard because while there would be nothing but praise and adoration for Roger being number one ranked at the end of 2014, despite winless at Grand Slam level, just think back to the WTA Tour when Jelena Jankovic (2008) and Caroline Wozniacki (2010 and 2011) were mercilessly criticised for finishing the year as the highest ranked on the WTA Tour, simply for not having won a major.

It wasn't the first time - for example Lindsay Davenport finished both 2004 and 2005 ranked number one on the WTA tour, yet won no majors in those years; yes she had proved herself as a major winner, but those were in 2000 and earlier.

And while it's true Roger has won 17 big ones, it is over two years since he tasted that success, and the currency of those 17 when discussing 2014 is wearing thin.

But if the credibility of finishing the year number one according to the rankings does not require a Grand Slam tournament win for Roger Federer, and I am not advocating either way, then nor should it for any other player who has similarly been consistent enough to rake up the most points without the spoils of one or more of the big four.

The ATP and WTA ranking points will always be what they are, and just once in awhile the best player in a calendar year, male or female, may not coincide with the one having the highest points tally.