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Second Serve - A Tennis Now Blog

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By Nick Georgandis

As was reported yesterday following his victory at Madrid, Roger Federer has supplanted Rafael Nadal as the No. 2 player in the world, after 53 weeks ranked either third or fourth -- definitively unfamiliar territory for the man with 16 Grand Slam titles to his credit.

The move down is just as odd for Nadal, who was last ranked third in the world on May 10, 2010, and climbed to No. 1 in the world just three weeks later after winning the French Open that season.

But the die was cast when Nadal made his early and pouty exit in the third round at Madrid last week, while Federer stayed quiet and deadly in taking the title on Sunday.

The week also saw Juan Martin Del Potro fight back to ninth in the world while American Mardy Fish dropped out of the Top 10 altogether, sliding to 11th.

Fish falls out of the Top 10 after spending 52 straight weeks there, and is no longer the top-ranked American, giving up that honor, at least temporarily, to John Isner, who still resides at No. 10 in the world.

The 1,000-point clay tournament saw a multitude of changes in the men’s Second 10 as well, starting with Fernando Verdasco’s resurgence to No. 16 in the world after upsetting Nadal.

Moving up three spots gets Verdasco to his highest ranking since April of 2011.

Tumbling in the opposite direction was France’s Richard Gasquet, who dropped four spots to No. 22. Gasquet was last outside the Top 20 in March 2011.

Nothing like a 1,000-point championship to get back into the conversation for best player in the game.

By winning the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday against world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, American Serena Williams jumped three spots to No. 6 in the world in the latest WTA rankings.

Scary stuff considering she’s played in just 15 tournaments so far in 2012, the fewest of any player in the Top 40.

And considering how much time she missed last year, Williams has little place to go but up if she can stay healthy and focused through the rest of the clay season headed into Wimbledon.

Since she didn’t start her 2011 season until June 13, any points she earns up until that date will be tacked on to her already-impressive total of 5,300, just 135 behind No. 5 Samantha Stosur.

The biggest loser of Serena’s surge was former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, who slid from sixth to eighth, and is a pedestrian 20-9 (.690) to date in 2012 after going 63-17 (.788) in 2011 and 62-17 (.785)  in 2010.

Finding herself just outside the Top 10 is Germanys Angelique Kerber, who reached a career-high No. 11 on Monday following her trip to the third round at Madrid.

Kerber is 28-9 so far in 2012,  and is 45-15 since last August.