TennisReporters.net 2020 year-end review: top 5-1, men

novak djokovic

5. Roger Federer
The Mr. Style has changed the game. Although he is getting older (turning 40 in 2021), he is still brilliant. Maybe he won’t win another Grand Slam, but he will come to close. Even though the 20-Grand-Slam champ hasn’t won a major since he grabbed the 2018 Wimbledon, he still has enough variety to beat most players. This year, a few days ago, the Swiss pulled of the 2021 Australian Open. When he returns, he may play at Indian Wells in March. He hopes, as do we, that he returns. In 2020, he played only one tournament, the Aussie Open. He did win two five setters, over John Millman and Tennys Sandgren, but against the No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semis, he was a little bit tired, and he lost in just three sets. Federer was won 103 titles – way up there – but when you get a little slower, it wears on you. Look at 2019, he was good, but not fantastic, losing to very good players such as Stefano Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem, Rafa Nadal, Andrey Rublev, Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev. Federer is still flabbergasting great at times. But to survive in best-of-five matches, he should shorten the points. With a problem knee adding to the physical demands of a 23-year career – and a staggering brilliant 1,242-271 won-loss record – he will continue to lose speed on court. That is life.

4. Daniil Medvedev
In 2019, the Medvedev was notably good, taking four titles, two of which were ATP Masters 1000s (Cincinnati and Shanghai). In the summer and throughout the fall, helooked very robust and steady. He won Paris and then conquered Thiem 4-6 7-6(2) 6-4 in in the ATP Finals. That was one of his best matches ever. In 2021, can he win a Grand Slam, which will be the first time? He sure can, as long as he upgrades his return and net play. Now is his time to dominate.

3. Dominic Thiem
A few weeks ago, Patrick McEnroe said. “Thiem will get to No. 1 in the world in 2021.” That’s a bold statement, but he has been getting better each year, which is why he won the 2020 US Open, and his one-handed backhand is incredible. The Austrian is ranked No. 3, right behind Djokovic and Nadal. Guess what? He does think that in 2021, he will be No. 1. He likes to change his form, and his is wise. He said, “I want to climb up the rankings.” He is going for it, with 2021 a year where his youth – six years younger than Djokovic and seven years younger than Nadal – can help him jump to the top.

2. Rafa Nadal
The Spaniard has a lefty slice serve, which allows him to dictate in most every match he plays. Years ago, he played Andy Murray at Wimbledon. His forehand was much bigger and his passing shots tore apart the Scot’s hair. Nadal had an answer for everything, and crushed the former Wimbledon champion. “His forehand was ridiculous. He’s hitting the ball so close to the line, so hard, that it was difficult for me to get into a rhythm,” Murray said. “I felt rushed on every point.” Nadal has won 20 Grand Slams, and next year, he can win the Aussie Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the US Open. As long as he is healthy, he will win another major on any surface. In 2021, he will continue to work with his backhand, which is better than 15 years ago. At 34, he is still a force and one of the greatest players of all time.

1. Novak Djokovic
The 33-year-old Djokovic continues to be the head of the class. “Being No.1 once again attracts me. I would lie if I said that it’s not a goal, besides a Grand Slam title, that’s the pinnacle of the sport,” Djokovic said. “What makes me emotional the most is the new game level. Obviously, major wins are the priority but it does not decrease the importance of other tournaments: I give the maximum when I come to a tournament to win.” In 2020, he won the Australian Open again, beating Federer in straight sets and Thiem in the five-set final. He also won Dubai, Rome and Cincy. His chance at another Slam fell at the US Open (stupidly hitting a lines person with a ball) and dropping the Roland Garros final to Nadal. After that, in the fall, he was decent, but not spectacular. He can hit almost anything, his wicked serve, his smart return and his non-stopped, deep backhand. Of course, he will win another Slam in the 2021, as long he continues to work on evening out his odd forehand. Regardless, he is so sharp that he will figure out how to beat everyone. He defines secure.

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