Djokovic the king of Masters Series
Simply said, Novak Djokovic ruled the Masters Series this season. Despite a less-than-stellar post-U.S. Open swing, Djokovic ran roughshod over everyone (especially you, Mr. Nadal) he encountered. Here are our year-end Masters Series Power Rankings.
1. Novak Djokovic's victories over Rafael Nadal in Indian Wells and Miami gave him something precious: belief that he could beat the intimidating Spaniard in finals. He didn't look back. Djokovic won the first five Masters events he competed in, and had he not been hurt, might have gone 7-for-7.
2. For the first time since 2004, Rafael Nadal won fewer than two Masters titles in a season. Djokovic was to blame. Who knows how the campaign would have turned out -- for both -- if Nadal had won their third-set tiebreaker in Miami. Even if Nadal didn't do much in Shanghai, Cincinnati and Montreal, he still reached five finals and extended his reign in Monte Carlo.
3. Roger Federer saved his best for last, triumphing in Paris without dropping a set. Sure circumstances favored the Swiss in the City of Light, but at times, he looked like the Fed of 2006. Federer reached the semifinals or better four times at Masters level, bettered only by the dynamic duo of Djokovic and Nadal.
4. Andy Murray outdid Nadal and Federer by winning two Masters tournaments, Cincinnati and Shanghai, dropping a combined one set. And before Federer ended Djokovic's marathon winning streak to start the season, Murray came the closest in Rome. But the Scot also lost his opener three times, in Indian Wells, Miami and Montreal.
5. Guess who, behind Djokovic, reached the most Masters quarterfinals? It wasn't Federer or Murray, but Tomas Berdych. He got to six, tied with Nadal. Highlights included topping Federer in Cincinnati and Murray in Paris. Conversely, Berdych advanced past the quarters only twice, but he has the game to do better.
6. David Ferrer keeps plugging along, mostly quietly. It would have been nice to see Ferrer, one of the game's most likable characters, win a first Masters title. Unfortunately for the consistent Spaniard, he drew Nadal in the Monte Carlo final and a surging Murray in the Shanghai finale. He won't stop trying.
7. Mardy Fish wasn't as consistent as Berdych, having appeared in just three quarterfinals or better. But he did something Berdych failed to do, which was land in a final, in Montreal. Once there, he managed to take a set off Djokovic. Fortunately for Fish, four of the nine Masters tournaments are in North America, where he plays his best stuff.
8. Great news for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga fans, and there are many: The Frenchman enjoyed his healthiest season on tour, playing in all nine Masters tournaments. Further, Tsonga reached the final in Paris and semifinals in Montreal. However, subtract the two francophone cities and he didn't exceed a third round.
9. Injuries and illness made this a miserable season for Robin Soderling, countering the progress of 2009 and 2010. He was able to participate in only four Masters tournaments, and none after the clay-court season. But the Swede appeared in two quarterfinals, and there was no disgrace in losing to Juan Martin del Potro in the third round in Miami.
10. Stanislas Wawrinka made substantial progress under Peter Lundgren. Now that they've cut ties, you wonder if the talented Wawrinka will sag. Wawrinka began with a quarterfinal in Indian Wells, surfaced in the last eight in Montreal and handed Murray his toughest test in Shanghai.
London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter.
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