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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