Roger Federer’s surprising early exit from the ABN AMRO 500 series at the hands of eventual losing finalist Julien Benneteau not only had the effect of disappointing hundred of ticket holders who’d hoped to see their idol perform, it has also thrown up an opportunity for Andy Murray to leap-frog him in the ATP rankings – all he has to do is win Indian Wells. It is of course known as the “fifth slam”, being as it is the biggest tournament outside of the four slam events in terms of spectator attendance and prestige. In fact it has the second biggest arena in world tennis – the formidable 16,100 seater main court.
Andy has of course been here before, he hit second spot in August 2009, his highest ranking to date – but has been steadfastly at number 4 until Rafa Nadal’s injury (plus his own performances on court of course) eased his progression into the top three.
Murray does have some history at Indian Wells, he reached the final in 2009 which obviously contributed to his career highest ranking to date. However, Federer may have exited early in Rotterdam, but he’s a four times winner at Indian Wells, and the defending champion no less.
Murray then, will be just one of several players highly motivated to do well in front of the estimated 310,000 spectators expected over the course of the Masters 1000 tournament. With Rafael Nadal unsure whether he’s going to participate, it’s perhaps a good opportunity for some movement in the top end of the rankings, certainly players such as Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin del Potro might back themselves to prosper on the hard courts – as too will Murray.
If Murray does manage to achieve the feat, it will be the first time he’s dropped out of the top 2 since June last year – but before anyone starts calling time on his career they’d do well to remember that you can never write Roger Federer off – his goal for the year will be to regain the top spot, not lose rankings places, so he’ll be going all out to defend his title at Indian Wells.