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Changing of the Royal Guard?

ATP Top 4's Title Haul from '06 - '11


October 22, 2011 | 09:40 PM

Is the Royal Guard Changing?

Perusing the titles and finals reached by the top 4 men in the last 6 years reveals some interesting stats and trends.

In the last 6 years, the top 4 won 118 titles in 178 finals:

- 77 hard court titles of which Roger has won 26, Joker 24, Murray 19 and Rafa 8.

- 29 clay titles of which Rafa has won 23, Roger 4 and Joker 2.

- 12 grass titles of which Roger has won 7, Rafa 3, Murray 2 and Joker 1.

Assuming one of them wins at least one of the remaining titles in 2011, which is likely, it means that among them they've won at least 20 titles in 6 of the last 7 years. In more than half of the weeks of the season, one of them has won an event.

Rafa and Roger have so far won only 4 events between them this year (versus 15 for Joker and Murray this year). The last year in which Rafa and Roger did not combine to win more than twice that number was 2003 (when Roger won 7 and Rafa did not play). They have won as many 22 events in a year (2005, when each won 11 and lost 1). The last year in which Joker and Murray combined to win only 4 events was 2010. This is by far their best combined year, and the worst year since 2002 for Rafa and Roger.

Here's a chart of their finals and titles:

As of 10/23/11 ROGER RAFA JOKER MURRAY Combined

(* Major titles) Titles/Finals Titles/Finals Titles/Finals Titles/Finals Titles/Finals

2011 1/3 3/10 10/11 5/6 19/30

Hard/clay/grass 1/0/0 0/3*/0 6*/3/1* 4/0/1

2010 5/9 7/9 2/4 2/4 16/26

Hard/clay/grass 5*/0/0 2*/4*/1* 2/0/0 2/0/0

2009 4/7 5/8 5/10 6/7 20/32

Hard/clay/grass 2/1*/1* 2*/3*/0 4/1/0 5/0/1

2008 4/8 8/10 4/7 5/6 21/31

Hard/clay/grass 2*/1/1 2/4*/2* 3*/1/0 5/0/0

2007 8/12 6/9 5/7 2/4 21/33

Hard/clay/grass 6*/1/1* 1/5*/0 4/1/0 1/carpet

2006 12/16 5/6 2/3 1/2 20/27

Hard/clay/grass 9*/0/2*/1 1/4*/0 1/1 1/0

TOTAL '06 - '11 34/55 34/52 28/42 21/29 117/178

Hard Ct Titles 25* 11** 20* 17

Clay Ct Titles 3* 31****** 7 0

Grass Ct Titles 4* 3** 1* 2

Major title/final 10/17 9/14 4/6 0/4 24/41

Major final surf. 8/5/4 4/5/5 5/0/1 4/0/0

ROGER RAFA TOTAL

Titles/Finals Titles/Finals Titles/Finals

2005 11/12 11/12 22/24

Hard/clay/grass 8*/1/2* 3/8/0

2004 11/11 1/2 12/13

Hard/clay/grass 7*/2/2* 1/1/0

2003 7/9 0/0 7/9

Hard/clay/grass 4/1/2*

2002 3/5 0/0 3/5

Hard/clay/grass 2/1/0

2001 1/3 0/0 1/3

Hard/clay/grass 0/0/0/carpet

2000 0/2 not pro 0/2

TOTAL '00-'05 33/42 12/14 45/56

Major title/final 6/6 1/1 7/7

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Not quitting the quest in '11:

Monfils and Tipsarevic moved into their respective finals in Stockholm and Moscow with meaningful wins, Monfils in 3 sets over Raonic (6-7, 7-5, 6-3) and Tipso over Davydenko 6-2, 7-5.

No question who had the tougher opponent in the final: Troicki was the defending the 2010 title in Moscow and won their own only professional encounter in the Russian capital 3 years ago. Neither man has more than one title to his name, and both titles were indoors on hard courts. Both have played well in Moscow (Tipso reached the final in '09), and they rank #14 and 16 in the world. With bragging rights at stake in their own capital, Belgrade, this match would not be won easily by either man.

RESULT: Tipsarevic def. Troicki 6-4, 6-2

The win for Janko was his 2nd title in two weeks, and the 250 points moved him to #9 in The Race - he now trails #8 Tsonga by only 275 points for the last spot in London, 145 points ahead of #10 Almagro.

Monfils, on the other hand, had 30 year old #73 Jarrko Niemenin, another man with but one final to his name. In his 3 set win over James Blake, Jarrko showed fight and the talent that has usually seen him earn rankings between #13 and 100 over the last last 7 years. After coming back from down a set and 1-3 today to the dangerous attacker Raonic, Monfils was ready for anything, though we had to wonder at the pain his frequent slides and rolls seem to cause his knees.

Monfils pushed himself to win this one in 3 sets (7-6, 3-6, 6-2) and moved past Del Potro and Soderling to #12 in The Race, 600 points behind Tsonga.

One small regret: Janko didn't have a chance to even his score with Jarrko, who beat him in Russia 5 years ago.

Speaking of the WTA, their year end championship begins Monday night in Istanbul, and I will preview it further tomorrow. The Intennis.com newsletter today gave us the line up and tv/espn3 schedule. If you'd like to sign up for these weekly info bulletins, go back to the HOME page of www.intennis.com and register with your email.

Rick


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