How Come Rafa …?

Oh, so it’s not the head to head we might have been hoping for in Cincinnati this week. Fed has withdrawn to nurse a tweak to his back and, as a result, Rafa will replace Andy Murray as world number one next Monday. Rafa returns to the top three years since he last held the top ranking.

With the withdrawal from competition for the rest of the year of Djokovic and Murray’s injury problems, it could be an interesting tussle for the top spot over the rest of the year. Federer has no points to defend for the rest of the year and Nadal very few. So it could be back to the familiar two horse race of two old staggers running up to the end of year – into their thirties and both a managing their schedules with care.

Should Federer get back to number one, which is a distinct possibility, he will set another record of being the oldest number one. It’s amazing what you can do at the tender age of 36!

However, for what seems like many years now pundits have talked about his demise, as they were talking about Rafa’s last year. Yet here we are coming up to the final slam of the year and it’s two to Roger and one to Rafa. Wayne Gretzky commented last week in Montreal that he considered Roger to be not simply the greatest tennis player of all time but one of the top three athletes of all time – up there with Pele, Michael Jordan, etc. Rafa’s probably not far behind given his achievements in a slightly shorter career. Time marches on and there will come a time when neither will be challenging at the highest level and we, like them will have to move on, looking for the new elite players to take their place, as surely they will.