I'm not sure what surprised me most about Roger Federer losing to Tomas Berdych on Wednesday night at the U.S. Open. The fact that he lost a night match on this particular court or the fact that he looked so listless in doing it. I'm not going to debate the reason for why it happened. His top seeding at the U.S. Open really didn't do him any favors. Had he defeated Berdych, he would have had to face world No. 4 Andy Murray, who is looking ready to finally win his first grand slam, just to even make the finals. However, with the lead he had built this summer on Novak Djokovic in points, Federer will maintain his hold on No. 1 no matter how this tournament ends now.
Current Rankings Prior To The Start of The U.S. Open
Here are the current leaders, points total, and the number of points that they have to defend at this tournament (meaning, at the end of the U.S. Open, you will subtract the number of points that they won here in 2011 and add the points they won this year).
1. Roger Federer - 12,165 (720 - semifinals appearance)
2. Novak Djokovic - 11,270 (2,000 - won tournament)
3. Rafael Nadal - 8,715 (1,200 - lost in finals)
4. Andy Murray - 7,290 (720 - semifinals appearance)
Rankings Are Definitely Changing
Let's first look at the Murray-Nadal rankings flip that is about to happen (whether at the US Open or the next tournament that Nadal misses). Nadal is going to lose the 1,200 points he had last year and replace them with nothing since he's not playing in this year's tournament. That automatically drops him to 7,515 points. With Murray's semi-final appearance, he will maintain the number of points he currently has. However, if he makes the finals, those added points (and extra 500) will push him past Nadal for the first time ever. Nadal will be ranked world No. 4 for the first time since March of 2010 (which was also a direct result of an injury-marred season the year before). Nadal's stay at No. 4, however, will be much more prolonged this time because of his extended time away. The last time he spent more than a few weeks at No. 4 or lower was in 2005.
Federer Will Still Hang On To Top Ranking
Anyone thinking that Federer automatically will lose the top ranking as a result of his loss doesn't understand the ranking system. Federer, as a result of his loss, will only get 360 points for the 2012 US Open. That will drop his points total down to 11,805. If Djokovic goes on to win this title again, he will simply stay at the same number of points he had when the tournament started, 11,270. The really amazing thing is that, if Djokovic doesn't win the title again, he could fall even further behind Federer in the rankings.
Considering how calculating that Federer is about what he needs to do to be the top-ranked player in the world, I'm sure he's already looking at his schedule to see what he needs to do to stay right where he's at. I have no doubt that Federer will do everything possible to still be No. 1 when the Australian Open begins in 2013. I also think he has an excellent chance to do it.
Julie is a featured tennis contributor for the Yahoo Contributor Network. A lifelong tennis fan, she has been surprised at how the 2012 season has developed.