Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The 2009 ATP World Tour season is now seven months old, so how about if we take a look at the progress of the circuit's top stars during these dog days of summer (the period between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open)?
1) ROGER FEDERER
The dazzling Swiss continues to amaze. At 40-6 this year, Federer owns three titles in four finals, with two of them coming in the form of Grand Slams. He captured his first-ever French Open title in June to tie Pete Sampras for the all-time men's record for major championships (14) and then nailed down a sixth Wimbledon title in seven years to surpass Pete and become the all-time Grand Slam king among the men. Throw in that runner-up finish against his chief rival Rafael Nadal at the Aussie Open, and the super Swiss has appeared in the last six Grand Slam finals.
Federer needed five sets (and then some) to hold off a game Andy Roddick in a second straight outstanding Wimbledon finale, which was decided by a Championships-record 30-game marathon fifth set.
Roger Federer is the men's all-time Grand Slam king and has won three of the last four majors.
After losing the No. 1 ranking to Nadal last season, Federer regained his perch atop the ledger by winning it all at the All England Club, where Nadal was unable to play due to a problem with those well-documented sore knees. Nadal, of course, edged out Federer in last year's amazing Wimbledon finale.
By the way, Federer's career prize money is now over the $49-million mark, which is just another one of the many records the fabulous Swiss holds. And who's kidding who...that's probably the best one!
Federer's whirlwind campaign has also seen him wed long-time companion Mirka Vavrinec, and the couple was blessed with twin girls just last week.
2) RAFAEL NADAL
Nadal is currently sidelined with those aforementioned bothersome knees. He has dropped from No. 1 back down to No. 2 and been idle since being shocked by up-and-down Swede Robin Soderling in the fourth round at Roland Garros, where the Spaniard was the reigning four-time champ at the time. (Soderling wound up soaring all the way into the French Open final before losing to Federer.)
Aussie Open champion Rafael Nadal has been slowed by knee injuries and lost his No. 1 ranking to Federer.
Rafa is still a stellar 44-5 this year, including a tour-best five titles in a tour-high seven finals. His '09 highlight so far was his first-ever Aussie Open title back in February, as he topped Federer in, what else, a dramatic final.
Nadal would later lose to the Fed in a clay-court finale in Madrid, as the two superstars are 1-1 against each other this season.
The powerful Nadal is still only 23 years old and has already eclipsed the $25-million mark in career prize money.
3) ANDY MURRAY
Murray is a solid 45-7 with four titles in five finals already this year, and has been one of the top-three players on tour since the middle of last season. But he has not had a great year in terms of major performances, having reached only one semifinal (Wimbledon). The 22-year-old Brit lost to Roddick in the Wimby semis; was ousted by Chilean strongman Fernando Gonzalez in the French Open quarters; and upset by Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the fourth round in Melbourne. All of those results would be more than respectable for most players, but the expectations for Murray have been high ones indeed, especially at this year's Wimbledon and Aussie Open extravaganzas.
Andy Murray owns four titles this season.
Murray's biggest win came in the form of a title at the lucrative "Fifth Slam" in Miami, and he's still a player on the rise, to be sure.
A No. 1 ranking looks like a real possibility for the Scotsman within the next year.
4) NOVAK DJOKOVIC
Djokovic is 47-14 with a pair of titles this year, but his season, thus far, has been noted for his number of runner-up finishes and disappointments at the majors. He's been a runner-up on four occasions this year, including a pair of clay-court Masters events in Monte Carlo and Rome, where he fell to Nadal both times. He also succumbed to Murray in Miami and Tommy Haas in a title tilt in Germany.
Novak Djokovic has struggled at the Grand Slam events in 2009.
At the Slams, the Djoker has done no better than the quarterfinals, losing to Haas in the Wimbledon and Roddick in the Aussie QFs. And the emotional Serb gave way to German Philipp Kohlschreiber in only the third round at the French.
5) ANDY RODDICK
A resurgent Roddick, 39-9 with one title in a trio of finals this season, has arguably been the third-best player in the world this year, under the guidance of new coach Larry Stefanki. He doesn't quite have the everyday results of a Murray, but has outperformed both Murray and Djokovic at the majors, reaching the Aussie Open semis (Federer), the fourth round at Roland Garros (Gael Monfils) and a third career Wimbledon final (now 0-3 against Federer). His surprising showing in Paris marked his best-ever finish at the world's lone clay-court Slam, and only Federer (20) has won more Grand Slam matches than the big-serving American (14) this season.
Andy Roddick reached a Wimbledon final and an Aussie Open semi.
A-Rod also married his glamorous girlfriend Brooklyn Decker this year, but, unlike Federer, no twin girls just yet.
6) JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO
The 6-foot-6 del Potro is a steady 34-10 with one title this year. He reached the semifinals at the French Open and the quarters in Oz, only to lose to Federer on both occasions. Delpo was also disappointed when he gave way to former top-ranked star and former champion Lleyton Hewitt in the second round at Wimbledon last month.
7) JO-WILFRIED TSONGA
Jo-Willy is a quiet 33-11 with a pair of titles in 2009. (Sounds like Top-10 material.) But he's reached only one Grand Slam quarterfinal so far this year, losing to Verdasco in Australia. He lost to del Potro in the fourth round at Roland Garros and was dismissed by "Dr. Ivo," massive-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic, in the third round at Wimbledon.
8) GILLES SIMON
How is he in the Top 10? 25-21 with nary a title this year? The Frenchman is certainly capable, but he's obviously living on rankings points from last year. (Simon says 2008?)
Granted, he did reach the Aussie quarters, but suffered a third-round exit at the French and a fourth-round one at the Big W.
9) NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO
The speedy Russian is fresh off his title in Hamburg last week. It marked his first tour victory since last year and moved his '09 record to a respectable 25-8. At the majors, he's 6-2 and skipped the Aussie Open due to an injury. Davydenko reached the quarters at the French Open, but only the third round at Wimbledon, his least-favorite Slam (hates the grass).
10) FERNANDO VERDASCO
Verdasco gives Spain a pair of lefty Top-10ers (joining Nadal). He's a solid 32-14 this year, but somehow has yet to hoist a trophy in 2009. His best showing came at the Aussie Open, where he battled all the way through to the semis, only to lose to Nadal in an epic five-set showdown. Verdasco exited both Wimbledon and the French Open in the fourth round and has definitely cooled off over the last couple of months. He actually hasn't reached another semi since the Oz Open back in January, and his only '09 final came in Brisbane way back in the first week of the year.
A No. 11 Gonzalez (French semis), 12th-ranked Soderling (Roland Garros runner- up) and No. 13 Monfils are among those knocking on the Top-10 door.
The ATP season still has more than four months to go, with the highlight coming at the U.S. Open, where Federer will be the reigning five-time champ (another record). And, barring an unusual circumstance, he'll be the favorite there once again. The Fed will try to win three majors in one year for a record fourth time. He's already the only man in the Open Era to do it thrice.