Philadelphia, PA – Let's take a look at the ATP's top-5 stars in the form of a report card to this point in 2013. Chances are you won't be surprised by the grades.
(1) NOVAK DJOKOVIC
The 25-year-old Serb has been his typical awesome self, with his latest season already featuring a third straight and fourth overall Australian Open title, a championship in Dubai and some more Davis Cup prowess. But he has failed to reach a final in his last two events -- Masters ones at Indian Wells and Miami -- heading into this week. He enjoyed a sizzling 17-0 start to his season before finally losing to fellow former U.S. Open champ Juan Martin del Potro in a semifinal at Indian Wells. Obviously, the world No. 1 superstar will be among the short list of favorites at the upcoming French Open, where he's the reigning runner-up.
(2) ANDY MURRAY
The ATP rankings say Murray is No. 2 right now, but that will change next week when Roger Federer supplants him in that spot. Murray was an unexpected third- round loser against "The Other Swiss," Stan Wawrinka, at the Monte Carlo Masters this week, which opened the door for the Fed to overtake him in the rankings on Monday. The reigning U.S. Open champion Murray has been pretty good again this year, as evidenced by trips into finals at Brisbane, Melbourne and Miami. The Olympic gold medalist titled in Brisbane, gave way to Djokovic in the Aussie finale, and topped fellow top-5er David Ferrer in the recent dramatic finale in Miami. The 25-year-old athletic Brit is 20-3 in 2013 and has reached the final in three of his five events. He failed to reach the recent final at Indian Wells, losing to the menacing del Potro in the quarterfinals.
(3) ROGER FEDERER
The amazing Fed decided to skip this week's "mandatory" event in Monte Carlo, Monaco, as the 31-year-old Swiss legend continues to play only sparingly in 2013. The 17-time major champ has appeared in only four events to date, and has yet to reach a final. He lost to Murray in a tremendous Aussie Open semi; succumbed to Julien Benneteau in straight sets in a quarterfinal at Rotterdam; was shown the door by former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych in a tight semifinal in Dubai; and was slowed by a back injury in a straight-set spanking at the hands of his great rival Rafael Nadal in a quarter at Indian Wells. Maybe he is finally starting to slow down. Federer is a decent (for anyone else) 13-4 in '13, but the reigning Wimbledon champ doesn't look like he's ready for a title run at the French.
(4) DAVID FERRER
The scrappy 31-year-old Spaniard, who led the ATP in match wins (76) and tournament titles (seven) in 2012, also decided against playing the Monte Carlo Masters this week due to a thigh injury. The uber-active Ferrer has already performed in seven events this year, winning two and finishing as a runner-up at two others -- against the mighty Nadal at Acapulco and versus the also- mighty Murray at the Miami Masters. He soared into the semifinals at the Aussie before running into Djokovic, who carved him up 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 that day. Ferrer has opened his latest campaign to the tune of a 25-5 record. He continues to be a bona fide top-5 star, but he's also proven he's just not in the same category as the "Big Four" -- Djokovic, Murray, Federer and Rafa (pick your own order).
(5) RAFAEL NADAL
This week, Nadal has been inching closer to a staggering ninth straight Monte Carlo title. The seven-time French Open champion started the season on the sidelines while recovering from (what else) a knee injury which kept him out of action for seven months. Since his return, however, Rafa has been playing like, well, Rafa ... perhaps even better! The 26-year-old slugger has competed in four other events, reaching the final in all four, and titling in his last three. Following a shocking loss to unheralded Argentine Horacio Zeballos in the final in his first tourney back, in Chile, the Spanish strongman proceeded to rattle off three straight titles, at Sao Paulo, Acapulco and Indian Wells, where he fought back to overcome del Potro in the finale in the California desert. Nadal is a brilliant 19-1 this season, including a dazzling 16-match winning streak. Simply put, he's been the best player in the world over the last couple of months. How do you like his chances at Roland Garros in late May/early June?