Remember the class of 2014 at the ATP Tour Finals?
That was a mighty fine vintage, wasn’t it?
But by the time tennis gets to the US Open in less than two weeks, not a single one of the year-end final eight just three years ago will be a factor.
The latest casualty is Japanese star Kei Nishikori.
His management team announced Wednesday that the 27-year-old has called it quits on 2017 because of a right wrist issue.
He joins Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka on the sidelines for the rest of the season
Nishikori heart a pop in his wrist while hitting a serve during practice Sunday in Cincinnati, according to the statement from manager Olivier Van Lindonck of IMG. The diagnosis is a torn tendon.
“At this stage, we have elected not to do surgery and Kei is in a cast. After the swelling comes down in the next weeks, we will evaluate the next steps. Kei will withdraw from all the 2017 tournaments and work hard to be ready for next year,” he added.
Andy Murray and Marin Cilic missed both major US Open tuneup tournaments and have to be considered questionable at worst, rusty at best, for the US Open.
Canadian Milos Raonic played just one match in Montreal, losing in straight sets to Adrian Mannarino after asking for a delay to deal with a wrist issue. And he then pulled out of Cincinnati.
Thomas Berdych’s ranking the last two weeks is as low as it has been since 2010. And he is playing as a shadow of his former solid self.
At the beginning of the season, the Czech was only losing to top players. But since his resurgent semifinal at Wimbledon (helped in no small part by Djokovic’s retirement in the second set of their quarterfinal match), he has done little.
Berdych lost to Thanasi Kokkinakis at a small tournament in Mexico. And then he pulled out of the Rogers Cup. In Cincinnati, he lost in the first round to Juan Martin del Potro.
And then there is Roger Federer, who returned after a short post-Wimbledon break in Montreal. Federer tweaked his back in the final, in addition to general aches and pains. The next day, he pulled out of Cincinnati.
Nadal last man standing
There’s more than a little irony that Rafael Nadal is the last man from the class of 2014 still standing tall Thought to be much closer to his physical demise than any of the above-mentioned players (and absent from that class of 2014 after missing three months with a wrist injury, then the season-ending championship as he underwent an appendectomy), Nadal will be the new No. 1 on Monday.
Currently ranked No. 9, Nishikori not only will miss the US Open, but the entire Asian swing. For the biggest tennis player out of Asia, that always has been a core part of his season.
He was a semi-finalist at the US Open last year.
Nadal is the only one of the top six players in the world to even be playing Cincinnati. That’s an even more dire situation than in Montreal, which at least had a straggly Federer reach the final, and was buoyed by the excitement of Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov reaching the semifinals on a career-making run.
After Wimbledon, Federer urged the young up-and-comers to be better.
In Montreal, after losing the final to the best of them, 20-year-old Alexander Zverev, he lamented the fact that there weren’t more of them.
“I’m sure there’s going to be up-and-coming players. Still wish there was going to be a bigger group of 18- or 20-year-olds, 22-year-olds. But we have some good guys, which is great for the game. They’re going to carry the sport to a better place in the future,” Federer said.
The future is now. Who knew they’d be needed to step up so soon?