Coming into the Sony Ericsson Open this week, 22 year old Serbian, Novak Djokovic was ranked No. 2 in the world. After Djokovic’s first match exit to 59th ranked Belgian, Olivier Rochus in Key Biscayne yesterday, it’s hard not to be critical of the ATP ranking system.
Looking back at Djokovic’s big tournament results in the last twelve months, he lost in the: third round of the French Open to Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets; quarterfinals of Wimbledon to Tommy Haas; the semifinals at the US Open to Roger Federer in straight sets; quarterfinals at the 2010 Australian Open to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga; fourth round last week at Indian Wells to Ivan Ljubicic; and now in his first match in Key Biscayne to Olivier Rochus. While these results would be good for a player outside the top 10, they don’t seem to be the caliber of a player that is ranked second only to Roger Federer, who has made the finals in the last eight Grand Slam events.
So who should be second? Well, in the aforementioned tournaments that they played, Andy Murray has had the same or better results in five out of six (four better), Rafael Nadal has had the same or better results in five out of five (three better), and Andy Roddick has had the same or better results in five out of six (four better). In addition, in their head-to-head matchups with Djokovic, Murray and Roddick have both won three in a row. Djokovic has also lost a shocking five out of six matches to 10th ranked Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Although, there is a simple explanation for Djokovic’s world ranking, which involves his success in the smaller tournaments that the other top players weren’t participating in and the fewer points Djokovic had to defend in particular instances, there is a very weak argument that he is the second best player on tour. It is my belief that if the ATP ranking system was truly effective, then the second best player in the world would be ranked No. 2.