Novak Djokovic Leads My 2016 Top 10, But Will Roger Federer Stay Ahead Of Rafael Nadal?
by Sean Randall | January 9th, 2016, 6:00 pm

Novak Djokovic is virtually unbeatable, so he’s just chasing records. Can Roger Federer really win another Slam? How will Andy Murray handle the baby and will Rafa get back to the top? Those questions and more will be answered this season.

For my year-end 2016 Top 10, it’s rinse and repeat. The same four who have dominated the last 10 years will continue to just that. With the next wave still cooking in the oven, if you will, and with few other legitimate challengers, I don’t see a lot of change this season with the Big 4 and the old guys maintaining status quo.

On to my Top 10 for 2016:

10. David Ferrer
Approaching 34, I still think he’s good enough to hang on to a Top 10 ranking. The Spaniard did have a decent 2015, but bottom line is he just can’t beat the top guys. In fact, in the last four years he has just four total wins against the Top 5.

9. Dominic Thiem
He’s got all the tools, he just needs to put it together on a big state. And I think this year is his breakthrough season behind a deep run in Paris.

8. Tomas Berdych
After a good start to 2015, the Czech faded toward the end. I know he won Stockholm but just didn’t make much noise as usual against the top guys. And I have to wonder how motivated he is anymore.

7. Kei Nishikori
He seems to have his body figured out, now he needs to get some consistency and fire.

6. Stan Wawrinka
There won’t be any Slams this year (and hopefully no more off court feuds), but he’ll remain a quiet threat.

5. Milos Raonic
He seems to be healthy now and ready to assume the title as the best server in the sport.

4. Andy Murray
Can he consistently beat Djokovic and the Big 3? There’s little to suggest he can and the big x-factor will be the arrival of his baby in February. How will the baby impact his game, his schedule? We don’t know. No one does. That said, maybe the baby is a springboard?

3. Roger Federer
Old man Fed will again to put up impressive results. But age will continue to become a bigger and bigger opponent as the injuries mount and the one-off losses increase. Still, the tour is ripe for the taking with few real threats these days. And the new words from Ivan Ljubicic should help.

2. Rafael Nadal
After an awful start of 2015, the trend has been up the Spaniard. And that’s a good sign for someone who needs his confidence. He closed 2015 beating some top names and even though he’s still a long way from challenging Djokovic, I think he’ll do just fine against everyone else, especially once he gets back on his beloved clay.

1. Novak Djokovic
He’s at the height of his powers and the next best challengers like Borna Coric, Alex Zverev, Nick Kyrgios, etc., are still a couple years away from taking his throne. Until then, he’ll continue to use the tour as his own personal playground.

Other guys to watch out for:
Nick Kyrgios – If he can keep himself together, it could be a big season for the controversial kid.
Bernard Tomic – I like that he wants to be Top 10 this season.
John Isner/Kevin Anderson – They’ll be in the mix thanks to their serves.
Marin Cilic – 2015 was a quiet year for the Croat but still managed a Top 15 finish.
Grigor Dimitrov – Was 2015 just a momentary step back or is there more to it. New coach Davin should help.
Tsonga/Gasquet/Monfils – Too many injuries?
Jack Sock – Ready to break the Top 20, maybe challenge John Isner as American #1?
Juan Martin Del Potro – Can he make it back?

And I want see the development of the younger kids like Coric, Zverev, Kokkinakis, Ymer, Rublev, Tiafoe, Chung, etc.

Overall, Djokovic is just too good at the moment and unless he gets injured, I don’t see him slowing down. But Nadal’s return will make the tour that much better and tougher. Federer will get his wins but we just don’t know how Murray will react when the baby comes.

So more of the same for another year with the Big 4 leading the way, and then maybe in mid-2017 we see the next wave start to shake things up. And then by end of 2018 it’s bye-bye Big 4, hello…???

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18 Comments for Novak Djokovic Leads My 2016 Top 10, But Will Roger Federer Stay Ahead Of Rafael Nadal?

Pauly Says:

Nadal will challenge Djokovic only on clay

Armend Kosova Says:

Agree with you on most of your predictions. Though injuries and babies, may indeed have an impact.
Most definitely agree that this is the last year with the full Top 4 on top, that is why we should sit back and enjoy the rest of the year. If today’s Nadal vs Djokovic match was any indication, it will be some more of the same old, which is a bit boring, don’t know if anyone else agrees?

Tennisfan Says:

The big 4 ended last year imo. I think Fedal are going to have an equally disappointing year. Andy hopefully add some competition to the ATP. But honestly I think we’re going to see the ATP resemble the WTA with Novak dominating like Serena.

Vicki Hensley Says:

I do not agree Milos is the best server in the game. He has a good serve, but Isner’s is more rounded. His second serve is just as lethal as his first. Milos does not have that. And if I am correct, Raonic has never beaten Isner. The players think Isner has the best serve.

Pauly Says:

Pat Cash is the man that can help Nadal improve his game in general … Why not listen to him Rafa ?
Your legacy is under attack … You can’t be Djokovic’s bunny rabbit in 2016

Wog Boy Says:

Pat Cash can teach Rafa how to snort white powder for sure.

Old people in the country where I am coming from have a saying ” You don’t go to bed with a woman that is offering herself to you”, more PC variation is “You don’t marry woman that is offering herself to you”.

Dave Says:

I still don’t see how people think Nole is just going to hit a wall when he is 30 after 2017 and lose number 1 and that’s it. He isn’t going to fall off a cliff at 30 like some people think and deep down inside hope. It’s seems to be wishful thinking. I do agree that the big four will be done after 2017.

FedExpress Says:

if nole doesnt win more than 1 gs this year it will be a disappointment for hin considering that he is in his prime and all others struggle

danica Says:

“it will be some more of the same old, which is a bit boring, don’t know if anyone else agrees?”

Well, we, Nole fans surely disagree. On the other side, I can’t remember people complaining when Roger was winning everything in sight or when Rafa claimed every clay tournament under the sun.

Sarah Says:

Very well said, Danica…and I am sure that true tennis fans will follow the tennis matches, even if Djokovic will dominate, like he did it in 2011 and 2015

MMT Says:

I don’t understand how you can put Dominic Thiem in the top 10 – I don’t see it. His strokes are elaborate, and he’s forced top play a long way behind the baseline to produce them. I would say Sock and Dimitrov are far more likely to have a top 10 season than Thiem.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Agree mostly, but I see Coric rising faster than Thiem.
Ferrer will probably stay higher than 10. Nishikori might fall out.

I believe it will be a very tight race for #2. The Big Four will re-establish this year, and one of the big question marks is if Stan can keep it a Big Five.

I agree with Dave that I don’t expect Novak to have a sudden drop-off. He seems to be in excellent fitness, doesn’t seem to have injury issues. He seems to have an excellent mind-set and team. His coach Becker really struggled with the mind-set to remain #1. I think it has been a problem for Rafa as well; of course I could be wrong, but I think he has always motivated himself with an underdog’s hunger.

All that said, one never knows in Sport. McEnroe and Wilander’s drop-offs were pretty unexpected. I just don’t see anyone in the wings ready to take it from Novak, as Lendl, Edberg and Becker were in the mid-80’s.

Armend Kosova Says:

Danica and Sarah, I would most definitely understand your point and agree that as a fan you never get bored of seeing your favorite player win.
To be quite honest, I always like periods in which the form and ranking of players are closer to each other, it makes the competition more enjoyable and fun to watch, and I’m not talking from the point of view of a less interested or occasional tennis fan.
I actually also did not like the period of excessive Federer or Sampras domination.
Just look at how much more interesting the clay season is without a totally clear favorite that Nadal was a couple of years ago. Which reminds me that Djokovic is going to win RG this year, and in the process end the debate on his best year ever. Now this prospect should be a crazy good one for Nole fans, as it is difficult to see him lose the AO or the US in fact. Wimbledon also seems halfway in the bag When you look at it, an unexpected injury is the biggest threat that could ruing his year right now, in which case it is another year of total utter domination, and yes being a true Tennis fan, I will still be watching every minute of it, down to the more interesting 250s :)

Gypsy Gal Says:

No fan complains when their own personal favorite is dominating,yet they certainly do when a rival is,and all cry out for more competition,or weak era etc,i think everyones guilty here of having double standards whether we care to admit it or not….

jane Says:

“but I see Coric rising faster than Thiem.”

i’m inclined to agree with tennis vagabond, here though it’s difficult to know. it’s just that coric is a gritty fighter; he fought his way to the chennai final and judging by the scoreline it looks like he was about to put up a good fight vs stan in the final in the second set. he also has wins over both andy and rafa already and he’s not even 20 yet.

thiem is higher ranked and 22 now. he’s played all the big 4 now and lost to all of them. not that this is a really big deal but i find it striking that coric has already beat two of them by contrast.

then there’s kyrgios… he’s got the game to rise right to the top methinks. he, too, has won over the top guys, and in big situations too. love, like or hate him, nick the kid is going to be a top player.

mat4 Says:


I don’t agree about 2K. His return is atrocious. In the top 50, worse are only: 1. Karlovic, 2. Isner, 3. Raonic, 4. Pospisil, 5. Muller. 2K is at 33% return points won. Even Tsonga is better.

I give more chances to Coric, but my fav for the top spot is 4K, if he remains clear of injuries (and it doesn’t bode well so far). I think that “even Tomic” will have a better career.

funches Says:

Federer will finish No. 2.

He did not lose a set at the U.S. Open last year until the final against Djokovic. He lost one set at Wimbledon until the final against Djokovic.

He definitely has a few more off days in tour events, but if the Fed of today played the Fed of 2006 in a slam, the Fed of today would win.

elina Says:

My oh my. A certain “Monfils fan” does seem all consumed with where Roger will finish with respect to Nadal (a common trait of Roger and especially by proxy Nole fans).

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