Last week, I posted my WTA predictions for 2014 and it’s now time to focus on the men. My womens predictions were lovingly posted on the Women’s Tennis Forums where they were predictably ripped to shreds. I just want to point out that these predictions are a bit of fun. Unlike the women, I do not see many big changes in the top 10 with just one new name, a bold pick that I realise is a bit out there!
Note – You can view my previous predictions for the ATP using the links below:
Moo’s 2013 ATP Predictions HERE
Moo’s 2012 ATP Predictions HERE
Moo’s predictions for 2014 ATP year-ending rankings
1. Novak Djokovic
For the third consecutive year, I am going for Novak Djokovic to top the ATP rankings at the end of 2014. Djokovic was nowhere near his best for much of 2013 in comparison to the insane standards he has set himself in recent years. Like 2012, he bookended the year with the Australian Open and World Tour Finals titles. The crucial tournament for Djokovic in 2013 was Roland Garros where he was aiming to complete the career Slam. He endured a heartbreaking semi-final loss to Rafael Nadal that seemed to throw him off his A-game until the fall as he went on to lose a series of big matches including both the Wimbledon and US Open final. Djokovic went five months without a title between Monte-Carlo and Beijing. It was after beating Nadal in the Beijing final, a tournament where he surrendered his world number one position to the Spaniard, that he went on a tear winning 24 straight matches. It was almost as if he now had something to fight for. I think Djokovic will win two Grand Slams next year and reclaim his spot at the top of the tree.
2. Rafael Nadal
2013 was all about Rafael Nadal. As a new year comes around, the task now turns to defending those mammoth points which came from winning 10 titles and posting a 75-7 W-L record. I had Nadal at number seven in my 2013 list because I thought he would really struggle to get back into the swing of things after taking such a long break because of his troublesome knees. I was proved wrong as he won two clay court titles on his comeback and then remarkably won Indian Wells on the hard courts. Nadal’s performances dipped after the US Open although this was understandable for the amount of tennis he played. I am still slightly sceptical how he hit the ground running after seven months out from the tour and managed to play so many tournaments with his knees. There is no doubt that Rafa is an extraordinary athlete and I see another top notch year, not as good as 2013, but at least another Grand Slam to add to his current tally of 13.
3. Juan Martin del Potro
There were some great highlights this year for Juan Martin del Potro, who defeated all current members of the top four at least once in 2013. A semi-final appearance at Wimbledon and final showings at both Indian Wells and Shanghai were his most significant achievements of the year. The disappointment was the Grand Slams where Wimbledon aside, he failed to make any other quarter-finals and skipped Roland Garros altogether. Injuries have played a key role in Del Potro’s career and his wrist looked like becoming troublesome again. He managed to dispel those theories with a solid end to the season with titles in Tokyo and Basel. I am a big fan of DelPo so I admit this is a slightly biast view but I think he is going to be the talk of the town next year. Consistency is the key and he will need to convert some of these tight losses against the top guys into wins. I believe he is going to very dangerous at Wimbledon next year and will have a shot at winning it. Am I deluded?
4. Andy Murray
Winning Wimbledon was the crowning moment of Andy Murray’s 2013 season and career. It was his second Grand Slam title and a truly awesome achievement having been on a downer missing Roland Garros after a poor clay court season. The year ended on a low note though with a lacklustre loss to Stanislas Wawrinka in the US Open quarter-finals and he was then forced to pull out of the final tournaments of the season to have minor surgery on his back. For that reason, 2014 will be a difficult one to begin with as the Brit fights off some rust. The clay court season remains an area where he can make up significant ground, but it has been the one surface that appears to hurt him most physically. I think 2014 is going to be a year of rebuilding for Murray. I think Grand Slam wise, he could remain at two by the end of the year. If he could start to conquer the clay though and go deep in the draws of Rome, Madrid and Paris then 2014 will be a very good one.
5. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
A rather forgotten man of 2013, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has a point to prove next year. Tsonga did extremely well through the first six months of the season; a quarter-final appearance at the Australian Open and a semi-final appearance at Roland Garros were his highlights, which were solidly backed up with quarter-finals at Indian Wells, semi-finals at Monte-Carlo and a title in Marseille. If it hadn’t been for an unfortunate knee injury picked up at Wimbledon, a tournament which he could have gone really deep in a depleted draw, then Tsonga would have had a lot more to smile about this year. When Tsonga did make his comeback, the results were distinctly average and he admitted that he was still not 100% fully fit with his knee. I think he will come back fully rested and fully fit in 2014, and become a relevant threat to the top four posting solid results on all surfaces and making another Grand Slam final.
6. Roger Federer
After visiting the World Tour Finals this year, it made me realise how crucial Roger Federer is to the ATP tour. 2013 was a difficult year for the Fed as he struggled with a persistent back injury and began to lose that razor sharp edge in the key moments of big matches. A semi-final showing at the Australian Open and the World Tour Finals were his best tournaments of the year to compliment just one title on the grass in Halle. His majestic play was not necessarily missing in 2013, but the consistency of it was as he started to show an inability to produce solid performances from match to match. If Twitter updates are anything to go by then he is working extremely hard to make sure 2014 is going to be a good year. I cannot see any Grand Slam wins, but I think he’s going to do better next year and will qualify once more for the World Tour Finals.
7. Stanislas Wawrinka
As Federer had an indifferent year by his standards, it was Stanislas Wawrinka who made a surprise saunter up the rankings with a series of fantastic performances that saw him crack the top ten and make a first ever Grand Slam semi-final. In my opinion, the highlight of the year came at the Australian Open when he played the match of his life in the best match of 2013, losing out, barely, to Novak Djokovic in their 4th round clash. Stanley has often lacked belief against the top players but showed a new found determination in 2013 and despite losing a number of tight matches, he showed tremendous heart and fight earning a whole new legion of fans. From the Australian Open to the World Tour Finals, there were peaks and troughs in his form, but he remained relatively consistent over the whole year. Now comes the tricky part in trying to back that up… I think he can do it though starting with a final four showing in Melbourne next month.
8. David Ferrer
Although you wouldn’t believe it from some of the media coverage surrounding David Ferrer, 2013 was a landmark year as the Spaniard rose to number three in the world rankings and made a first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros. Ferrer has received some very negative media from tennis pundits. I admit myself to never being one of his biggest fans, but you have to tip your cap and credit him for his work ethic and how much he has achieved in his career. The negativity has stemmed from an inability to challenge the players around him in the rankings; Ferrer’s record in 2013 against the current top five was one win out of ten matches. I was also surprised how he essentially killed his chances of doing well at the World Tour Finals by playing seven straight weeks. He admitted afterwards that it was just too much. I found it difficult to fathom how he could not see beforehand this was ludicrous. I believe that 2014 will mark the beginning of the slippery slope and despite a top 10 placing and a couple of Grand Slam quarter-finals, in my opinion, these will be the highlights of 2014 for Daveed.
9. Tomas Berdych
When I looked at all of Tomas Berdych’s results throughout the whole of 2013, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. The huge Czech, who became a star on Twitter this year, failed to match those heights on the court. Despite a promising start which included a quarter-final at the Australian Open, a semi-final at Indian Wells and back-to-back semi-finals in Madrid and Rome, there wasn’t a great deal to get excited about for the Berd. He qualified for the World Tour Finals, but was the only player of the eight not to have won a title in 2013 and that spoke volumes. Berdych has always struggled mentally and although he has made significant improvements in that field, he still over thinks things against the likes of Djokovic and Nadal. He has beaten every member of the current top ten at least once in his career, but has never been able to string those kind of wins together. He will always be a solid top 10 player; however I am starting to believe that his chances of being anything more than that are slim at best.
10. Jerzy Janowicz
As the WTA has seen a number of talented players start to make their mark on the rankings, the same cannot be said for the ATP. In my only new entry to the list, I have gone for Jerzy Janowicz to break into the top ten. It is perhaps a surprising choice to most, but from what I have seen from the towering Pole, there is a lot to get excited about with his game. 2013 was all about backing up that wonder run to the final of Bercy and although consistency wise he was lacking, a first Grand Slam semi-final appearance at Wimbledon was impressive. Granted, he had a favourable draw, but he took his chances and grew in confidence match-by-match on the grass. I like his fearless attitude on court and his passion to succeed. Janowicz struggled in the second half of 2013 with a worrying back injury. I remain confident though that he’s one to watch out for. In 2014, I predict he will make another Grand Slam quarter-final and post a more consistent set of results.
Moving up the rankings:
I hate to include Grigor Dimitrov in this list because the guy has been hyped to the heavens, but of all the up-and-comers currently on tour, I expect him to make some considerable progress next year. 2013 was an up-and-down year with a promising first half that included the big upset over Novak Djokovic in Madrid. His response to that win was disappointing, but he did manage to pick himself up at the end of the year with the support of new coach, Roger Rasheed as he won his first title in Stockholm. I think Dimitrov will crack the top 15 next year along with Marin Cilic. His season was cut short after testing positive for Nikethamide. That’s a story worthy of a whole post, but now he’s back I expect him to slowly creep back up to his previous ranking.
Next to each other in the current ranking, I predict that Vasek Pospisil and Ivan Dodig will both end up in the top 20. I actually tipped Pospisil in 2011 to make the top 30, which looked incredibly stupid back then. Now it seems I was just a few years early! Dodig is another player I have admired, particularly for his work ethic. Apart from a 4th round appearance at Wimbledon and making the semi-finals of Tokyo, Dodig didn’t have a great deal of noteworthy results in 2013. He did though manage at least one top 30 win at eight tournaments this year. Dodig has also established himself as a successful doubles player, which is rare for ATP singles players. Substantial rises in both rankings this year demonstrate he is doing something right.
Two players that I think will crack the top 30 are Joao Sousa and Pablo Carreno-Busta. Sousa broke into the top 50 at the end of 2013 after good results at St Petersburg and Kuala Lumpur, the latter which he won, to become the first Portuguese player to win an ATP title. This will gain him direct entry into the big tournaments and a chance to fully test his mettle against the best players on tour. Carreno-Busta was named as the most improved player on tour after rising 649 places in the 2013 rankings. He developed a taste for winning with seven straight titles on the ITF Futures circuit, four titles on the Challenger circuit and a 39 match winning streak at one stage during the season. He had an exceptionally smooth transition to the main tour during the clay court swing where he made the semi-finals of Oeiras. He hasn’t yet proved himself on hard courts, but he is definitely a name to watch out for during the European clay court swing. No matter who you are beating, winning is winning and Carreno Busta showed a great deal of potential throughout 2013.
Moving down the rankings:
I have a lot of respect for Tommy Haas, who didn’t receive anywhere near the amount of headlines he deserved after a terrific year that saw him on the verge of breaking into top ten once more. Unfortunately, I cannot see him staying there next year and that’s mainly based around his health as injuries became more frequent in the latter half of 2013. I still think Haas will be a top 30 player and has a few years left in him to do some damage on tour. Another name I don’t see sticking around is Fabio Fognini. I’ll admit the guy narks me and I feel strongly he should have been fined for some of his efforts last year (see HERE) . The Italian player does have talent, but lacks the consistency, heart and professionalism to go any higher in the rankings. I think that like Haas, Fognini will be closer towards the 30 mark.
It looks like I am digging on some of the veterans here because Tommy Robredo is another player I do not see staying in the top 20. Robredo had a fantastic year, which included a quarter-final run at Roland Garros where he won three straight matches from two sets down. He equalled those successes at Flushing Meadows when he earnt a huge win over Roger Federer. To repeat those results would be nothing short of spectacular and I predict Robredo will be around the 40 mark.
I like Kevin Anderson’s game, but I think he will move down from his current ranking of number 20 to the limit of being seeded for the slams. The South African had some solid results during the first half of 2013, but wasn’t able to sustain them during the second half of the year. The one thing that resonates with me is Anderson’s 0-9 head-to-head record with Tomas Berdych and unfortunately, I am not sure he has what it takes to progress any higher than his current ranking. I also predict that Gilles Simon, Jeremy Chardy, Pablo Andujar and Horacio Zeballos will fall in the 2014 rankings.