Sunday, August 30, 2015

US Open 2015 Preview

The 2015 US Open could be a slam that we  look back on 10, 20, 30 years from now and point to as one of the most important majors in tennis history. Opportunity knocks for the sport of tennis to grow immensely in popularity over the next 15 days.

The main reason of course is Serena Williams' pursuit of the Grand Slam, which she is seven wins away from completing in her home country. It is the most prestigious accomplishment in tennis, and it hasn't been achieved since Steffi Graf in 1988. The sports world comes to a stop whenever a horse comes close to winning the triple crown. Imagine the excitement when as a human gets closer and closer to an even more impressive achievement in a real sport.

Here is a look at the other main story lines that make this US Open one of the most exciting majors in recent memory.

Youth Meets Experience - The men's singles draw is both as old and as young as it has been in recent memory. There are 10 teenagers in the main draw, representing the future of tennis and 40 players over 30 years old, representing what has been a golden era on the ATP. There are going to be several key match ups between players from the two groups, meaning lots of opportunities for a teenager to make a breakthrough on tennis' biggest stage.

The two matches that jump out from the draw are 18-year old Borna Coric against 14-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal and 20-year old Nick Kyrgios against London Olympics gold medalist Andy Murray. A win for either of the young challengers would rock the tennis world and could usher in a new era.

The other key potential matches between youth and experience are
Frances Tiafoe vs. Viktor Troicki
Hyeon Chung vs. Stan Wawrinka
Jared Donaldson vs. Roger Federer
Alexander Zverev vs. Roger Federer
Tommy Paul vs. Novak Djokovic
Lucas Pouille vs. Marin Cilic
Andrey Rublev vs. Kevin Anderson
Yoshihito Nishioka vs. Andy Murray
Dominic Thiem vs. Andy Murray
Bernard Tomic vs. Lleyton Hewitt
Thanasi Kokkinakis vs. Richard Gasquet

A win for anyone in the left column would be huge for tennis and not only create buzz for the rest of the tournament, but be a historic moment to look back on five years from now.

Bryan Brother's Pursuit of 17 - There's also the No. 1 men's doubles pairing of Bob and Mike Bryan, who are looking for a sixth US Open title and 17th grand slam title, which would tie John Newcomb and Roger Federer's record for most grand slam titles in a single discipline.

Americans of New York - There are 22 women and 17 men from the United States in the singles draws, including the No. 1 female tennis player Serena Williams in search of the Grand Slam.

Serena's Star-Spangled Path - This will be Madison Keys' first time playing in Flushing Meadows since reaching the Australian Open semifinals this season. She along with Sloane Stephens, who won her first career title in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago, could be two of Serena Williams' opponents in the first week. Venus Williams waits as a potential quarterfinal opponent for her sister.

American Men's Youth: For the American men, fans will get a glimpse of the future with a stacked lineup of young talent. At 22 years old, Jack Sock is at a career-high ranking of No. 28 in the world and seeded at the US Open for the first time. The draw also features American teens such as Tommy Paul (18), who is making his grand slam debut, Frances Tiafoe (17), who is one of the most hyped teenagers in the sport, and Jared Donaldson (18), who is the third youngest player in the top 150 in the world.

Fish's Fairwell - For Mardy Fish, this will be his last US Open. The American reached a career-high ranking of No. 7 and held the torch as the American No. 1 for more than a year. He won five of his six singles titles in the United States and reached the second week of the US Open four times.

Djokovic's Perfect Season - Through the first three quarters of the season, the Serb has been as good as anyone in tennis has ever been leading into the US Open. If he reaches the final in Flushing Meadows, he will be the first player since Roger Federer in 2009 to reach the final of all four slams. If he wins the title, he will become the fifth male player in the Open Era with double-digit slam titles.

Federer's Quest for 18 - At 34 years old the Swiss Maestro has his best shot to win a grand slam title in years, following his title in Cincinnati, where he defeated the US Open's No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic and No. 3 seed Andy Murray. If he gets it done, he will be the only male tennis player with 18 ever tie Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert in grand slam singles titles, trailing only Steffi Graf and Serena Williams.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tennis Stocks 2015

This time last year, I wrote a piece on the future of tennis in the best 40 countries at the time. I started by looking at where each country was ranked at the time and then tried to predict whether they would improve or not, or simply stay the same in general.

Now, a year later, I want to do the same predictions for five more years into the future. The rankings of the top countries are explained here. I made one change to take the top 38 and then add in Chile and Sweden, because both of those countries will be in the top 40 five years from now without a doubt.

For each country, I'm going to choose to buy, sell, or stay on each country's stocks over the next five years based on the age of the current top players from that country and the success of the younger players that are making their way up in the rankings.

1. Spain - SELL - This one is a slam dunk just like it was a year ago. The future of Spain is horribly dark, that in five years, they might not even be in the top 40. Spain currently has 12 players in the top 100 and 17 players in the top 132. Yet out of all those 17 players, only four are not yet 29 years old, which means all 13 of those 17 will be retired in five years if not at least very close to retirement and dropping in the rankings. The other four players aren't exactly young either and will be nearing the end of their careers in August of 2020 as well. Juame Munar is the one player that Spain can turn to for hope in the future and he has had a very disappointing 2015 season. Munar might be able to keep Spain on the tennis map, but he won't be able to keep it anywhere near the top 10 of this list.

2. Serbia - SELL - Novak Djokovic is literally 87% of the reason that Serbia is No. 2 on this list and a large part of the remaining 13% belongs to Viktor Troicki. Djokovic will probably still be around in five years, but there is no way he will still be producing this kind of magic in that far into the future. There are players that can pick up the slack, like Dusan Lajovic, Filip Krajinovic, Laslo Djere, Pedja Krstin, Miki Jankovic, and Nikola Milojevic, but none of those six players have really stepped up in the last 12 months. They all show promise, but even the six of them combined can't replace what Djokovic has done.

3. France - SELL - France isn't quite as old as Spain, but only a handful of its players 12 players currently in the top 140 will still be around in five years. France also has much more young talent than Spain, but it likely won't be enough to replace the consistency of maintaining good rankings of Jeremy Chardy, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The young players making their way up are Laurent Lokoli, Corentin Moutet, Quentin Halys, Maxime Janvier, Theo Fournerie, Johan Sebastian Tatlot, Calvin Hemery. Maxime Hamou, and Enzo Couacaud. That's a large group of young talent and someone is sure to emerge out of that group. Also Lucas Pouille and Pierre-Hugues Herbert have not yet reached their peaks. France may have the most depth in the top 200 in five years, but staying top three is going to be a big task for the young group.

4. Switzerland - SELL - Roger Federer is 34 years old and still winning titles, so what's to stop him from doing the same when he is 39 years old? Still, I wouldn't bet on it. Stan Wawrinka is also sure to start dropping in the rankings very soon. These are the glory days of Swiss tennis, and there is nothing to suggest that they will ever return to this level any time in the foreseeable future.

5. Great Britain - SELL - Kyle Edmund is going to be a great tennis player when he hits his prime. There is no question about that. However, for me to buy on Great Britain, I would have to be arguing that he will be even better than Andy Murray essentially, which would be setting the expectations unrealistically high. I think Murray will still be around in five years, but a 33-year old Murray combined with peak form Edmund still isn't as good as Murray is right now with a 20-year old Edmund and Aljaz Bedene.

6. United States - BUY - We have our first buy and this one is about as much of a slam dunk as the Spain sell was. The United States may be No. 6 on this list, but that is still just about as bad as it has ever been for American tennis. Thankfully, the future is extremely bright. Let me just start naming off some reasons in no particular order: Jared Donaldson, Frances Tiafoe, Stefan Kozlov, Ernesto Escobedo, Collin Altamirano, Noah Rubin, Nathan Ponwith, Mitch Krueger, Tommy Paul, Reilly Opelka, Michael Mmoh, Taylor Fritz, William Blumberg, Dennis Uspensky, Alex Rybakov, and Deiton Baughman. Also, let's not forget about the guys that have already made a name for themselves but still haven't reached their peaks yet: Jack Sock, Denis Kudla, Bjorn Fratangelo, Ryan Harrison, and Tennys Sandgren among many others. Plus, there are the guys that went to college and are taking a little longer to reach their peaks, but in five years, will be very dangerous: Steve Johnson, Bradley Klahn, Austin Krajicek, Rhyne Williams, Jarmere Jenkins, Dennis Novikov, Marcos Giron, and Connor Smith among others. The United States will have an unreal amount of depth in five years. Possibly even more than what Spain has now.

7. Japan - SELL - I bought on Japan last year, largely because they were No. 12 in the world at the time. Continuing to move up will be a huge challenge for the Japanese. Yoshihito Nishioka and Taro Daniel look like the future of Japanese tennis aside from Kei Nishikori, who is No. 4 in the world. It's hard to predict that Nishikori will remain that high five years from now, which is a large reason I am selling on Japan. However, the drop won't be too significant.

8. Czech Republic - SELL - This one is pretty simple to analyze, since there's not a lot of moving parts. In five years, Tomas Berdych will be at least near retirement, while Jiri Vesely will be 27 years old, which is the peak for a lot of tennis players. Lukas Rosol will be out of the picture by then and Adam Pavlasek will be much more developed physically. It's simply a question of will Pavlasek and Vesely be better in five years than Berdych, Vesely, and Rosol are now. That does not look too likely.

9. Croatia - HOLD - Will Borna Coric have a better career than Marin Cilic? I would say, yes. Will Cilic still be in the top 100 in five years? Most likely. Will there be room in the top 35 in five years for three Croations? That's what I can't see. Ivo Karlovic and Ivan Dodig will be long gone in five years. There are other Croats on the horizon, but it really all comes down to Coric. He certainly has the ability to be a No. 1 player in the world, but moving the country into the top eight in five years will be tough to do. Remember that a large part of why Croatia is in the top 10 to begin with is because Cilic won the US Open in the last 12 months. 

10. Australia - BUY - This is an obvious one. Almost all of the players that helped Australia get to No. 10 on this list will still be around in five years and the majority of them will be even better. Plus, Nick Kyrgios, Thanasi Kokkinakis, and Omar Jasika all have top 10 potential for a country that currently has nobody in the top 20. Aside from the United States and perhaps France, nobody's future is brighter than Australia's.

11. Italy - SELL - I held on Italy last year and then Luca Vanni came out of nowhere and bumped their ranking up a couple spots. In five years, they will go back down a couple spots.

12. Argentina - BUY - These last 18 months have been a disaster for the Argentina with the injury to Juan Martin del Potro and the struggles on Juan Monaco. They can only go up from here.

13. Germany - BUY - Alexander Zverev has the hopes of a nation riding on his shoulders. This is another country that is accustomed to being in the top eight. No. 13 is about as low as it gets. If Zverev doesn't step up, somebody will.

14. Belgium - HOLD - David Goffin and Kimmer Coppejans represent the future of Belgian tennis. They have already moved the country up from No. 30 to No. 14 in just one year. The two of them should be able to keep the country's ranking right around there.

15. Canada - BUY - Milos Raonic has been injured lately which has allowed Canada's ranking as a country to slip. However, they should be back in the top 10 within a couple years and then it is just a matter of maintaining it with the help of upcoming juniors like Felix Auger Aliassime and David Volfson.

16. Austria - SELL - Dominic Thiem is already No. 20 in the world and he is going to have to improve enough in the next five years to almost single-handedly replace the efforts of the other two Austrians in the top 140.

17. Ukraine - SELL - There just isn't much to be excited about in terms of tennis in European countries and Ukraine is no different. When talking about the next generation Vadym Ursu is the only one who is really even a part of the conversation from Ukraine and he alone can't replace the talent there is now.

18. Russia - BUY - It seems like every Russian is in a slump right now. That's what it takes to drop such a great tennis country down to No. 18. Roman Safiullin, Karen Khachenov, and Andrey Rublev are three of the most exciting teenagers in tennis right now, surely Russia will be much higher on this list in five years.

19. Brazil - HOLD-  Orlando Luz, Guilherme Clezar, and Thiago Monteiro all have shown lots of potential on the clay, but not much outside of the clay. Still, three solid clay specialists will be enough to keep Brazil in the top 20. 

20. Slovakia - SELL - Martin Blasko looks like he could reach the top 100 some day, but that won't be enough to keep Slovakia at the top 20. With Klizan and Lacko reaching the ends of their careers at that point, Slovakia won't be in fantastic shape.

21. South Africa - SELL
22. Bulgaria - BUY
23. Colombia - SELL
24. Kazhakstan - HOLD
25. Uruguay - SELL
26. Luxembourg - SELL
27. Portugal - BUY
28. Dominican Republic - SELL
29. Cyprus - SELL
30. Slovenia - BUY
31. Poland - BUY
32. Latvia - SELL
33. Uzbekistan
34. Korea - BUY
35. Lithuania - SELL
36. Netherlands - SELL
37. Turkey - SELL
38. Moldova - SELL
39. Chile - BUY
40. Sweden - BUY

Country Power Rankings

Tennis may be an individual sport, but many fans approach it the same way that they would approach a team sport, supporting all of the players from a certain country as if they were a team. The one thing that is even better about this than team sports is that with tennis, players very rarely change the flag next to their name.

Like any sport, rankings are a huge part of tennis, but what about ranking the best tennis countries in the world? For just over three years now, I have been trying to rank the best tennis countries in the world, renewing the rankings every couple of months if not more frequently.

The process for finding these rankings is simple and it hasn't changed in the last three years. I take the sum ranking points of every player from every country in the top 140 in the world. The player ranked No. 141 in the world and everyone below is not factored into this, because this process would take forever, otherwise.

Here are the results of the formula for best tennis countries in the world:
1. Spain
2. Serbia
3. France
4. Switzerland
5. Great Britain
6. United States
7. Japan
8. Czech Republic
9. Croatia
10. Australia
11. Italy
12. Argentina
13. Germany
14. Belgium
15. Canada
16. Austria
17. Ukraine
18. Russia
19. Brazil
20. Slovakia
21. South Africa
22. Bulgaria
23. Colombia
24. Kazhakstan
25. Uruguay
26. Luxembourg
27. Portugal
28. Dominican Republic
29. Cyprus
30. Slovenia
31. Poland
32. Latvia
33. Uzbekistan
34. Korea
35. Lithuania
36. Netherlands
37. Turkey
38. Moldova
39. Tunisia
40. Bosnia & Herzegovina
41. Georgia
42. Israel
43. Finland
44. Chinese Taipei

For the first few years of doing this, France always finished in second only behind Spain, but Serbia has now passed France largely because of the return of Viktor Troicki and dominance of Novak Djokovic. Spain has never been anything but No. 1 on this list, but with David Ferrer's injuries and Rafael Nadal's struggles, that lead has shrunk significantly and could be in trouble in the upcoming months.

There is a big gap between the top 10 and the rest of the field and it looks like that will only grow, although, Croatia should drop quite a bit after the US Open. Great Britain is currently ahead of the United States and Germany is down from where they have been in previous years.

In general, there has been a strong power shift away from Europe even though each of the top five countries are European. Korea has come onto the scene with Hyeon Chung. Japan has been getting stringer. The Dominican Republic is doing well if only for now. Colombia, Chile, and Argentina are all much weaker than they have been in previous years, but Chile and Argentina both have bright futures, especially if Juan Martin del Potro comes back healthy next year.

The two non-European slam countries are the United States and Australia and both are looking for a return to glory in the near future with loads of fresh young talent. Meanwhile, the futures for Spain, Switzerland, and Czech Republic are all particularly bleak right now.

US Open Draw: Youth meets experience in first round of the US Open

Over the past decade in tennis, first round matches for the real grand slam contenders have almost always been unbearably boring to watch, even to the point where many tennis fans have been upset that the stars of the game are getting coverage instead of what is happening on the outside courts. However, at the 2015 US Open, some of the early round matches could produce some great drama.

During this decade of dull first round matches, four players have dominated the tour: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Rafael Nadal. Meanwhile though, a large group of young guns have been showing what the next generation in tennis is going to be all about. Players like Nick Kyrgios, Borna Coric, and Hyeon Chung have showed immense amounts of talent. At the 2015 US Open under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium, they are going to get to show if it is all hype or if there is substance to the idea that this group is the one to replace the Big Four.

Two massive first round matches will break in the tournament right away as 18-year old Borna Coric takes on 14-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal and 20-year old Nick Kyrgios goes toe-to-toe with Rogers Cup Champion and two-time grand slam title-winner Andy Murray. Then, in the second round, 19-year old Hyeon Chung will play two-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka.

Most exciting match ups per round
1st Round: Rafael Nadal vs. Borna Coric
2nd Round: Hyeon Chung vs. Stan Wawrinka
3rd Round: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Gael Monfils
4th Round: Milos Raonic vs. Rafael Nadal
Quarterfinals: Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal
Semifinals: Andy Murray vs. Roger Federer
Final: Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer

Toughest Path: Rafael Nadal

If Nadal was in a slump, it isn't going to be helped by the draw he received. The Spaniard always needs a little more time that other top players to find his top level at tournaments, which is what makes Coric particularly dangerous as a first-round opponent.

However, what makes his draw particularly tough is his quarterfinal opponent, which could be Djokovic. Nadal has not failed to reach at least the semifinals of the US Open when making the trip to New York since 2007. However, he also hasn't beaten Djokovic on hard courts since the 2013 US Open final, losing 6-of-7 matches against the Serb in total.

Fabio Fognini and Milos Raonic also stand in the way of Nadal's run to the quarterfinals. Raonic has been battling injuries in the past months, but his serve is his biggest weapon, and that has remained just as lethal for the most part.

Meanwhile, Fognini is also very dangerous as he has beaten Nadal twice already this year. Nadal fans will point out that both of those losses were on clay, while Fognini struggles on hard courts and that Nadal did avenge those two losses with a straight-set win over the Italian in the Hamburg final. However, straight-set does not mean straight-forward as Fognini had several chances to take a set in that match. Fognini also gave Nadal a run at the 2013 Beijing quarterfinals, before the Spaniard pulled out the victory.

Easiest Path: Novak Djokovic

The No. 1 seed couldn't have asked for a much better draw. He opens against Joao Souza, who is a stranger to hard courts. He will then likely play Pospisil, who is a far more dangerous opponent, but has never really come close to beating a player like Djokovic at a major.

His third-round match could be against Andreas Seppi, who has gone into an injury-induced slump and wouldn't be much of a threat on hard courts anyways. Teymuraz Gabashvili would be the more dangerous third-round opponent, but Djokovic's defensive abilities present the perfect foil for the Russian's playing style.

Djokovic's fourth round opponent will likely be David Goffin, who nearly beat Djokovic at Cincinnati, but after taking a double-break lead in the deciding set, the Serb swooped in with six consecutive games won to end the threat. That momentum would certainly carry over to a rematch at the US Open.

Djokovic could get any number of players in the quarterfinals. The seeded players that he could face are Nadal, Raonic, Feliciano Lopez, or Fabio Fognini. Nadal and Raonic have both had very bad summers due to injuries and neither is truly at 100 percent going into the tournament - one doubts if Nadal will ever be 100 percent again. Meanwhile, Fognini is a clay specialist. Lopez beat both Nadal and Raonic in Cincinnati, so he is looking at a dream draw, but he has only won one set against Djokovic in his career.

The Serb's semifinal opponent could also be just about anyone. The two top seeds, Kei Nishikori and David Ferrer, both pulled out of Cincinnati with injuries. Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov, and Tsonga could all be potential semifinal opponents for Djokovic. Against Cilic and Dimitrov, Djokovic has a combined record of 18-1. Against Tsonga, the Serb's record isn't nearly as dominant, but at grand slams, Djokovic has won eight consecutive sets against he Frenchman.

Big Picture: With the way that this draw worked out, it is very hard to look past any of these early matches, but two players dodged the big match ups: Djokovic and Federer. The Swiss has won all of his last 10 sets against Murray, who is his expected semifinal opponent, and while Wawrinka and Berdych are both capable of taking out Federer, that would be hard to imagine based on their recent form.

Federer and Djokovic are no strangers to meeting at Flushing Meadows. They did so in Djokovic's first career final at the 2007 US Open. They then went on to meet at five consecutive US Opens with Federer winning three, and Djokovic winning each of the last two after saving match points.

Overall, Federer now leads their series history 21-20 after defeating Djokovic in straight sets at Cincinnati. Just two years ago, who would have thought that a 34-year old Roger Federer might be the favorite to win the 2015 US Open? Djokovic may be the odds makers favorite, but Federer certainly has a great chance to walk away with the trophy.

More teenagers in New York: In the first round, Frances Tiafoe will take on Viktor Troicki, who has been in a small slump over the last few weeks, while playing a packed schedule. At just 17 years old, Tiafoe has already reached a career-high ranking of 271, and last week in Winston-Salem, the teen American earned his first ATP World Tour level victory.

In Federer's quarter of the draw, Thanasi Kokkinakis will play Richard Gasquet, who seems to be a magnet for these young Australians to play against. The 19-year old Kokkinakis is one of the youngest players in the top 100, coming in with a ranking of 70. He already has four grand slam victories, but Gasquet presents a huge challenge for taking the fifth.

Federer's potential third-round opponent Jared Donaldson will play Lukas Rosol in the first round. Donaldson just reached a career-high ranking at No. 146 in the world at just 18 years old. This is his second career main draw appearance at a slam. He received a wildcard into the US Open main draw for the second straight year after failing to qualify at each of the previous three majors this year.

In qualifying, there is a host of promising teenagers still alive looking for those few main draw spots still available. In that group is Alexander Zverev, Noah Rubin, Yoshihito Nishioka, Reilly Opelka, Andrey Rublev, Tommy Paul, and Elias Ymer.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Measuring Masters Dominance

Last May, I looked at a new way of measuring how much players from different eras dominated at the grand slams in their various eras. In this piece, I am using a similar method to measure player's dominance a the nine Masters 1000 level tournaments, which have existed since 1990. Those nine events have changed over the years, but every year there are nine events on the schedule that are the most important outside of the grand slams.

The process is almost identical to the method used for the grand slam comparisons. I found the sum total of ranking points earned by all of the top players since 1990 at each of the Masters Series events that they played in. The totals were based on the current ranking system: W-1000, RU-600, SF-360, QF-180, R16-90, R32-45, R64-20, and all first round losses were worth 10 points unless it entrance was based on a wildcard.

Keep in mind that players who started their peak years before 1990 could be drastically underrated in categories that have to do with totals, and could be very overrated in categories that have to do with averages.

Let's get started with the lists that came out of this study:

Career Total Masters Ranking Points Earned:
1. Rafael Nadal 47,190
2. Roger Federer 47,085
3. Novak Djokovic 44,880
4. Andy Murray 27,920
5. Andre Agassi 27,745
6. Pete Sampras 24,420
7. Tomas Berdych 16,285
8. Andy Roddick 15,755
9. Michael Chang 15,405
10. David Ferrer 15,400
11. Thomas Muster 12,810
12. Stefan Edberg 12,695
13. Boris Becker 12,671
14. Jim Courier 12,600
15. Gustavo Kuerten 12,150
16. Lleyton Hewitt 11,865
17. Carlos Moya 11,570
18. Marcelo Rios 11,370
19. Goran Ivanisevic 11,360
20. Yevgeny Kafelnikov 11,185
21. Marat Safin 11,000
22. Juan Carlos Ferrero 10,845
23. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 10,620
24. Stan Wawrinka 10,040
25. Tommy Haas 9555
26. Richard Krajicek 9220
27. Nikolay Davydenko 9145
28. Thomas Enqvist 9055
29. Sergi Bruguera 8970
30. Tommy Robredo 8570

Average Ranking Points Earned per Masters Tournament: (as of April 3, 2017)
1. Novak Djokovic 482.6
2. Rafael Nadal 471.9
3. Roger Federer 379.7
4. Andy Murray 300.2
5. Andre Agassi 298.3
6. Pete Sampras 294.2
7. Stefan Edberg 275
8. Boris Becker 248
9. Thomas Muster 241
10. Andy Roddick 212
11. Marcelo Rios 199
12. Michael Chang 181
12. Gustavo Kuerten 181
14. Jim Courier 177
15. Lleyton Hewitt 160
16. Patrick Rafter 159
17. Milos Raonic 151.2
18. Tomas Berdych 150.8
19. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 149.6
20. Yevgeny Kafelnikov 145.3

Federer and Nadal closed the gap with Djokovic early in the 2017 season, putting Nadal within striking distance going into the clay portion of the calendar. Federer will be skipping the clay events, which will ruin his chances of catching Nadal in total points. Meanwhile, Murray has justified his position as a member of the Big Four by moving into the top four all-time in both total points and average points. He surpassed Andre Agassi on both lists.

Most Points Earned at one tournament
1. Rafael Nadal 10,230 (Monte Carlo)
2. Rafael Nadal 8390 (Rome)
3. Andre Agassi 8220 (Miami)
4. Roger Federer 7660 (Indian Wells)
5. Roger Federer 7570(Cincinnati)
6. Rafael Nadal 7025 (Madrid)
7. Novak Djokovic 6730 (Miami)
8. Novak Djokovic 6690 (Indian Wells)
9. Rafael Nadal 5760 (Indian Wells)
10. Novak Djokovic 5740 (Rome)

Rafael Nadal has dominated Monte Carlo more than any player has ever dominated any singles 1000-level tournament, becoming the first player to earn at least 10,000 ranking points at one singles event outside of the majors. The king of clay has also dominated Madrid and Rome to a level that few players have dominated any tournament.

Federer is also the leader of three different tournaments, collecting the most points at Indian Wells, Cincinnati and Hamburg, which has since been lowered to a 500. Djokovic owns two tournaments, Shanghai and Paris, but both tournaments are relatively new, so Djokovic had a big advantage in both of them. The Serb, however, could steal Indian Wells from Federer this year and Canada from Agassi. Miami is also within reach further down the line, meaning Djokovic could retire as the leader at five of the nine active Masters 1000 events.

Murray has not yet become the leader at a tournament, but he could become the leader at Canada or Shanghai as soon as 2017 depending on what Djokovic does.

Career Points Earned at Indian Wells
1. Roger Federer 7660
2. Novak Djokovic 6690
3. Rafael Nadal 5760
4. Michael Chang 3760
5. Pete Sampras 3655
6. Andre Agassi 3410
7. Lleyton Hewitt 3345
8. Jim Courier 2750
9. Andy Roddick 2275
10. Stefan Edberg 2135

Career Points Earned at Miami
1. Andre Agassi 8220
2. Novak Djokovic 6730
3. Roger Federer 5340
4. Pete Sampras 5050
5. Rafael Nadal 4235
6. Andy Murray 3825
7. Andy Roddick 3265
8. Tomas Berdych 2815
9. Jim Courier 2635
10. David Ferrer 2305

Career Points Earned at Monte Carlo
1. Rafael Nadal 10,230
2. Novak Djokovic 4390
3. Thomas Muster 4215
4. Roger Federer 3365
5. Juan Carlos Ferrero 3315
6. Carlos Moya 3080
7. Sergi Bruguera 3060
8. David Ferrer 2330
9. Gustavo Kuerten 2185
10. Marcelo Rios 2105

Career Points Earned at Madrid
1. Rafael Nadal 7025
2. Roger Federer 5560
3. Andy Murray 3500
4. Novak Djokovic 3180
5. Tomas Berdych 2340
6. David Ferrer 2020
7. Kei Nishikori 1510
8. Juan Carlos Ferrero 1365
9. Andre Agassi 1360
10. Juan Martin del Potro 1225

Career Points Earned at Rome
1. Rafael Nadal 8390
2. Novak Djokovic 5740
3. Roger Federer 3655
4. Thomas Muster 3380
5. Gustavo Kuerten 2625
6. Jim Courier 2605
7. Alex Corretja 2200
8. Marcelo Rios 1890
9. David Ferrer 1855
10. Goran Ivanisevic 1830

Career Points Earned at Canada
1. Andre Agassi 4935
2. Novak Djokovic 4770
3. Roger Federer 4460
4. Rafael Nadal 4190
5. Andy Murray 3495
6. Andy Roddick 3020
7. Patrick Rafter 2240
8. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 1910
9. Michael Chang 1875
10. Yevgeny Kafelnikov 1645

Career Points Earned at Cincinnati
1. Roger Federer 7570
2. Pete Sampras 5190
3. Michael Chang 4570
4. Andre Agassi 4280
5. Andy Murray 4185
6. Andy Roddick 3650
7. Novak Djokovic 3515
8. Stefan Edberg 2795
9. Lleyton Hewitt 2750
10. Rafael Nadal 2470

Career Points Earned at Shanghai
1. Novak Djokovic 4440
2. Andy Murray 4050
3. Roger Federer 2060
4. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 1600
5. Rafael Nadal 1520
6. Gilles Simon 1385
7. Feliciano Lopez 1360
8. Tomas Berdych 1270
9. David Ferrer 1025
10. Nikolay Davydenko 1010

Career Points Earned at Paris
1. Novak Djokovic 4840
2. Andy Murray 3770
3. Marat Safin 3925
4. Pete Sampras 3760
5. Tomas Berdych 2935
6. David Ferrer 2820
7. Boris Becker 2715
8. Roger Federer 2650
9. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2600
10. Andre Agassi 2380

Career Points Earned at Hamburg
1. Roger Federer 4710
2. Andrei Medvedev 3155
3. Marcelo Rios 1865
4. Gustavo Kuerten 1695
5. Rafael Nadal 1690
6. Tommy Robredo 1685
7. Alex Corretja 1635
8. Marat Safin 1570
9. Lleyton Hewitt 1395
10. Yevgeny Kafelnikov 1370

Career Points Earned at Stockholm
1. Boris Becker 3270
2. Goran Ivanisevic 2560
3. Stefan Edberg 1830
4. Pete Sampras 1270
5. Jim Courier 675
6. Petr Korda 640
7. Arnaud Boetsch 450
8. Yevgeny Kafelnikov 405
9. MaliVai Washington 380
10. Sergi Bruguera 290

Career Points Earned at Stuttgart
1. Richard Krajicek 2335
2. Yevgeny Kafelnikov 1430
3. Thomas Enqvist 1325
4. Pete Sampras 1230
5. Tommy Haas 1155
6. Boris Becker 1135
7. Petr Korda 1010
8. Marcelo Rios 990
9. Lleyton Hewitt 970
10. Andre Agassi 740

Career Points Earned at Essen
1. Thomas Muster 1000
2. MaliVai Washington 600
3. Pete Sampras 360
3. Arnaud Boetsch 360
5. Richard Krajicek 180
5. Thomas Enqvist 180
5. Jim Courier 180
5. Sergi Bruguera 180
9. 8 more with... 90

There is one more way of looking at the numbers presented in this form. The first two categories dealt with totals and averages. Averages are good for looking at how good a player is in the tournaments that they played. Total is good for looking at the longevity of that success in tournaments.

This final list looks at a combination of the two. It takes the total amount of points won and subtracted from that is the number of Masters Series tournaments played multiplied by 171, which was the average amount of points won per tournament of the players that were researched. That means that an average score on this list would be zero for the 46 players that were researched.

Career Points Earned Adjusted
1. Rafael Nadal 30,090
2. Novak Djokovic 28,977
3. Roger Federer 25,881
4. Andy Murray 12,017
5. Andre Agassi 11,842
6. Pete Sampras 10,227
7. Stefan Edberg 4829
8. Boris Becker 3950
9. Thomas Muster 3747
10. Andy Roddick 3101
11. Marcelo Rios 1623
12. Michael Chang 870
13. Gustavo Kuerten 693
14. Jim Courier 459
15. Patrick Rafter -543
16. Lleyton Hewitt -789
17. Milos Raonic -969
18. Juan Martin del Potro -1340
19. Kei Nishikori -1343
20. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga -1521

There is a lot to analyze here, and combined with the data from the piece on dominance at majors, you can get a pretty good sense of who the best tennis players have been in the last 25 years. Like the piece on majors, what surprised me about this one is how well Tomas Berdych and David Ferrer do on these lists. Both are represented in the top 10 for total and top 20 for average despite never really having much success in the later stages of tournaments. However, their ability to constantly reach quarter and semifinals is what allows them to do so well on these lists. Neither of them will likely end up in the Hall-of-Fame, but if I had a vote, I would give them both very serious consideration.

Murray is still playing catch-up to the other three members of the Big Four, but he is finally ranked inside the top four in all three of the main categories, surpassing Agassi in total points, average points and points adjusted. There is still a big dropoff between Federer and Murray on all three of these lists, however.