Stan Wawrinka: The Swiss said that he felt dead when he walked on the court against Novak Djokovic in the Aussie Open semis and lost in five sets, somehow disappearing in the fifth when he couldn’t run and went down 6-0. But against Tomas Berdych in the Rotterdam final, he shined, coming through 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and capturing his ninth title. He was very aggressive, fast and confident. Maybe 2 out of 3 is easier than 3 out of 5?
Tomas Berdych: The tall Czech shocked Rafa Nadal in the quarters of the Aussie Open, then falls to Andy Murray in the semis when they were arguing, but he got back right up and looked stellar until the final at Rotterdam, taking out Andreas Seppi, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon. Sure, he could have been smarter in the third set against Wawrinka, but he is very consistent this year, which is a good thing.
Kei Nishikori: Even though he is ranked No. 5 and well above the other competitors in Memphis, it is difficult to win the tournament year after year. On the court, he was very fast and the striking serves that bombed away indoors. The Japanese struggled day in and day out, as now everyone wants a piece of him. He needed three sets to best Ryan Harrison, Austin Krajicek and Sam Querrey, but in the final against Kevin Anderson, he was very clean. Nishikori has won the tournament three titles in a row. And now he wants to learn a guitar? Sweet.
Kevin Anderson: The tall and huge server has been pretty consistent over the past year or so, but he has to start beating the top 10 opponents. In the semis, he was calm and cool over Donald Young, but in the final against Nishikori, he didn’t return well at all. If the 28-year-old will ever reach a Grand Slam final, he has to get better overall.
Pablo Cuevas: The Uruguayan has improved quite a bit over the past two-years or so, winning the Sao Paolo tournament on clay over Luca Vanni in the final 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4). Cuevas is now ranked No. 23. Believe it or not, he is 29 years old, which means he had worked and worked to be competitive. But he has yet to go far at the Slams. Maybe in RG this year?
Luca Vanni: How the heck did he reach the final? He is now ranked No. 108 at 29 years old, which is not very high. It took him forever to be good enough, but the 6-foot-6 played extremely well at some Italian Challengers on clay last year and was ready to rumble Sao Paolo. He was darn close.
Andrea Petkovic: Over the past nine days, the German has been terrific overall. She came through in marathons over the Aussies in Fed Cup, and then in Antwerp, she pushed past three women in tiebreaks. Fortunately or unfortunately, Petkovic won the title because Carla Suarez couldn’t play the final due to her neck, but the German cracked the top 10. As long as she super consistent, she will never get tired.
Carla Suarez: It’s too bad that the Spaniard couldn’t walk out for the final because she was hurt, but she did take some but she did take out with Camila Giorgi, Monica Niculescu, Francesca Schiavone and Karolina Pliskova, which was excellent work.
Daniela Hantuchova: Out of nowhere, the one-time No. 5 won the Thailand Open title again, upending the young Ajla Tomljanovic. The 32-year-old Slovak isn’t what she used to, but on some days, she is feeling right, and mixes and matches to fool her opponents. She has won three titles in Thailand. Can she do it against at Indian Wells next month? Doubt it but you never know when she is on.
Ajla Tomljanovic: The 21-year-old has now reached the top 50, which is good overall. Why she is up and down? Is it because she is very powerful and is still learning to play. The new Aussie resident is working with her coach, David Taylor, who helped Sam Stosur at 2011 US Open. Tomljanovic has a long way to go, but you will see her upset some notable during the big tournaments in 2015.