OK, I’m exaggerating but it got your attention! That said, while I don’t think anyone expected Novak to ever have a year like 2011 again (few players have), it seems that he’s even a step behind 2012, at least to date.
First of all, it should be noted that Nadal is now #1 in the Race to London rankings – despite missing the Australian Open. But let’s take a look at Novak’s performances in the last three years through Rome:
ATP 1000: W, W, A, W, W
ATP 1000: SF, W, F, QF, F
ATP 1000: SF, 4R, W, 2R, QF
So as you can see, his ATP 1000 record is quite diminished; as in 2012, he had a W, SF, and QF, but in 2012 he had two Final losses to a 4R and 2R loss in 2013. That’s the difference.
A cause for concern? I don’t think so. But A) I do think that Rafa needs to be taken seriously for the #1 ranking this year, and B) The gap between Novak and everyone else might not be as large as previously thought. In 2011 he was the clear #1, last year he and Federer were about even, and this year it seems that he and Rafa are going to duke it out for best in the game.
If Rafa wins Roland Garros it should be a very interesting dog-fight to the finish. Rafa would really need to win Wimbledon as well, which he has a better chance at than the US Open. If Novak wins one of the French Open or Wimbledon I think he’s got it.