Top 20 in 2019: Men, 15-11

Denis Shapovalov

No. 15: Denis Shapovalov
The 20-year-old from Canada had a terrific year.. He can be steady, focused and very powerful. Both his forehand and his backhand are lights out, as is his first serve. But he is not great at the net, as well as returning. Plus, he can become frustrated when he is losing. He is like many youngsters who want to play constantly. They all do, but they have to practice more, instead of just going from the tournament to tournament. That way, the coaches can give them advice, rather than just thinking about when he will win a Slam ASAP. Shapovalov has to learn, and when he does, he will go into the top 10 in 2020. For sure, he will upset a number of the top players. Then he will smile. On court, he is darn good player already.

No. 14: Diego Schwartzman
The Argentine decided that he would be more bold, he would move forward and on occasion, he would rip at the lines. He has been around for a solid decade, and in 2019, he knew that if he didn’t re-think his attitude, then he would never have a real chance to become in the top 10. He hasn’t yet, but he is close. During January, February and March, he knows he can catch up, and win a big title. He is a grinder, and will continue with that style. But if he wants to add his game, he has to take risks. Why not do it? 

No. 13: Kei Nishikori
Many years ago, the Japanese reached the final at the 2014 US Open. He did not win it, but at least he looked very, very good. However, he is injured all the time, month after month. No matter what he tries, he is still frequently hobbled. When Nishikori is healthy, he can leap up high and punch the ball. He is very quick, and he can concentrate. He has upset a few great players, but not often enoguh. In the 2020 Slams, he can reach the second week anytime. But winning it all, when he has to play for so many hours? That would be surprising.

No. 12: Fabio Fognini
The Italian finally played consistently, perhaps for the first time. The 29-year-old always liked playing on clay, but it took him for a number of years to become very respectable on the hard courts. He mixes it up — a heck of a lot — and he runs fast and can play some amazing drop shots. He has played so many tournaments, year after year, and somedays he looks terrific, but there are other days when he is bored. However, now, after he married the former US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, he started to calm down. His backhand has improved, along with his deep return. He wants to go even higher in 2020 on the hard courts, because he is just fine on the clay. Fognini has to attack and change it around. Last year, he won an ATP 1000 at Monte Carlo. Can he do it again, somewhere? Sure he can, as long as he continues to be sharp.

No. 11: David Goffin
He is almost 30-years-old, and the Belgium had a first-rate year in singles. Of course, he has never won a major — and maybe he never will —but at least he was more hopeful. He reached the No. 7 in 2017, but he could not beat the big boys. He was a little bit nervous. Finally, he calmed down, and he pushed hard, especially with his wonderful one-handed backhand.  His forehand is powerful, too, but his serves and net play, is pretty mediocre. Goffin has a solid five more years left to get better, to improve, and be thoughtful. Obviously, he will go back into the top 10. But can he reach the top 5 in 2020? Close, but he has to prove it.