#1 In the World. Who Will Take it? Who Will Hold it at Year End?

Michael GathaganContributor IJune 5, 2010

Nearing the end of the clay court season and around the half way point of the year, we question who will be No. 1. With Roger Federer just a few weeks from the last record for him to break, (most weeks at No. 1), it seems he may have to wait a long time and travel a tough road to do so.

With Roger Federer exiting Roland Garros early, the resurgence of Rafael Nadal, and the continuing struggles of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, it leaves little to the imagination that Rafael Nadal should take command in the rankings.

There will be a stern test waiting for Nadal in the final though, in Robin Soderling. The powerful Swede has shown that he can be tough for Nadal, winning their last two meetings. But with Soderling winning a tough five setter to get to the final and Nadal being well rested and healthy, it seems Nadal is poised to win.

If Nadal can complete his comeback on the red clay, he will recapture the No. 1 ranking once again. With Roger Federer losing in the quarterfinals, he'll lose a huge amount of ranking points, 1,640 to be exact; compound this with the fact that a Nadal win will give him a boost of 1,820 points. If Nadal follows through with most predictions, the rankings will show Federer with 8,390 points and Nadal with 8,700.

If Nadal can win his fifth French Open title, I find it very hard to believe that anyone but he can finish the year No. 1. With Federer having to defend his Wimbledon title, Andy Murray’s semifinal run, Novak Djokovic’s quarterfinal run, and the fact that Nadal has no points to defend, all means that he could have a huge lead depending on the results at Wimbledon.

Figure this with Federer’s run to the Finals of the US Open and you have a tough road for Federer to reclaim the No. 1 ranking. Federer has a few glimmers of hope later in the year, but he didn't perform well at three masters series events: Canada, Paris, and Shanghai. He also had poor showings at 500 series events: Tokyo and Washington. This could keep him in the race by competing well at these events this year.

To top it off, Nadal will have to have a strong second half of the year to retain points with strong finishes at masters series events: Shanghai, Paris, Cincinnati, Canada, and a late year run in Beijing, it could be a tight race come year end.

But with Novak Djokovic having to defend large points at five tournaments later this year, including a semifinal run at the US Open and Andy Murray with four of his own, it appears that the race will turn into a two man battle. With strong showings by a few contenders both this year and last, the battle for No. 1 may be intriguing, but not for another year or two.

As for this year, it appears the No. 1 ranking is Rafael Nadal’s for the taking.