Ranking scenarios: Wimbledon

Jul 2 5 min read

2:29 pm

Federer&Nadal on Flickr by rainycat under CC2.0

After three weeks of exciting grass court tennis, the climax of the season is finally upon us; Wimbledon, the oldest and in the eyes of many, the most prestigious of the Grand Slams. We’ve all been following the back-and-forth between Federer and Nadal for the top spot in the men’s game. There have been six changes already this year - the most this millennium. Interestingly enough, the world no. 2 spot is up for grabs at Wimbledon as well. No one outside the Big 4 has occupied either of the top two spots since July 2005, when Nadal arrived at no. 2. That could very well change this tournament. Let’s take a look at each of the top four players and examine how their performances in London will determine the rankings heading into the hard court season. 

Rafael Nadal

Back to world no. 1 after Federer’s shock loss in the final at Halle, Nadal will be looking to cement his position at the top with a strong performance at Wimbledon. He is only defending 180 points, and should thus have reasonable chances at extending his 50-point lead over Federer.

Firstly, Nadal is guaranteed to be world no. 2 at the very least after Wimbledon. A first-round loss would leave him at 8600 points. Even if world no. 3 Zverev wins Wimbledon, he will only be at 7575 points, ensuring that Nadal will stay in the top two no matter what.

Nadal is guaranteed to be world no. 1 if Federer does not win Wimbledon. Federer is defending 2000 points from his title victory last year, and thus anything less than that will keep Nadal at the top, fortifying his lead. This could prove interesting for the North American hard court season. Assuming Nadal defends his points, and Federer fails to win, the Spaniard will leave London with an 850-point lead at the minimum, which would provide a safe buffer for the rest of the year. This could be crucial in the battle for year-end number 1.

Nadal is guaranteed to be world no. 1 if he reaches the fourth round. As long as he defends his points from last year, he will keep his lead over Federer, given that Federer cannot gain any points at Wimbledon. The take-away is pretty clear here - all Nadal needs to do is reach the second week. Anything beyond that is a bonus.

Roger Federer

Federer’s chances of overtaking Nadal depend entirely on Nadal himself. Since he cannot gain any points here, he will have to bank on Nadal losing in the first week. Even if Nadal loses early, he will still need to win the title. This isn’t impossible, but it does seem unlikely that both these things will occur simultaneously. However, Federer will also have to fend off Zverev and del Potro as they look to claim his no. 2 spot.

The only way Federer will be guaranteed a top two spot is if he reaches the Wimbledon final. However, it is exceedingly likely that he will remain there. Either Zverev or del Potro will have to have the performance of a lifetime to oust him. If Federer reaches the third round, he is all but certain to stay in the top two - Zverev would have to win Wimbledon to usurp his spot. Thus, the stakes are both high and low for him - he must win Wimbledon if he wants that top spot, but he will likely only need a third round finish to stay in the top two.

Alex Zverev and Juan Martin del Potro

Zverev and del Potro will be slugging it out for the position of third best player in the world. The numbers certainly favour in the German in this battle. If Zverev falls anywhere in the first three rounds, del Potro will have to reach the semis to become the new world no. 3. If Zverev reaches the fourth round and del Potro reaches the semis, they will have the exact same number of points, 5755. In this case, the player with more points in Majors will be ranked higher. The Argentinian takes this one with ease, given his recent semi-final appearances at Roland Garros and the US Open.

Things get more interesting assuming they both go deep in the tournament. If Zverev reaches the quarters, del Potro will need to make the final to overtake him. And if Zverev reaches the semis or the final, del Potro will need to win the tournament to overtake him. At this point, they start racking up the points high enough to come within striking distance of Federer.

For Zverev, a finals appearance gives him a shot to become world no. 2. If he loses in the final, and Federer loses in the first or second round, he will break the Big Four’s 13-year stranglehold over the top two spots in the world. On the other hand, if he manages to win Wimbledon, and Federer falls before the final, he will accomplish the same. Unlikely scenarios, but possible.

For del Potro, the chances to reach a career high no. 2 are far slimmer. He will have to win Wimbledon for it to even be a possibility. Additionally, he will need Federer to lose before the quarter-finals. Seems extremely unlikely, but stranger things have happened at Wimbledon.