2017 top players: men’s 11-15

TennisReporters.net will review 2017’s top 30 women and men, our annual feature.

No. 11: Juan Martin Del Potro
The Argentine actually thinks that he can win his second major soon. He did it at the the 2010 US Open, and before he began to get hurt all the time — heavy surgeries— it looked like he would win many Grand Slams. He almost retired, twice, but he kept battlingon. Now, he could actually play the entire year.  It is amazing that three years ago, he could only chip his one-handed backhand. This season, his favorte two-hander is back. Not all the time, but some of the time. As long as he progresses, then yes, he can win a Grand Slam again. However, he could improve his return.   

No. 12: Novak Djokovic
The Serbian was dominated for a solid three years. Then, in 2017, he started to slip. Not immediately, but you could tell  that something inside his body was painful. So, in the summer, he had to stop for the rest of the year. It happens to almost all of them at some point. When he was winning Slam after Slam, he was almost impossible to beat. His backhand and forehand were so strong and very deep, his serves was huge and it was so hard for the opponents to find out where to go.  Plus, he was efficient at the net. But now in 2018, who knows? Will he play as well as he could when he’s 100 percent? Will he become aggressive again? Confident? Happy? We will find in the first six months in 2018. It will be fascinating.

No. 13: Sam Querrey
Who would have thought that the American would finally rise up? His backhand was going deep, he returned more consistently, and he was actually focused. Just like with Kevin Anderson, he just isn’t very fast, which drags down any player’s game. But, he can chip-and-charge on occasion, and he can be steady at times. He is very calm, a happy-go-lucky. Can he reach the final at a Slam, or win an ATP 1000? Possible, but tough.    

No. 14: Kevin Anderson
The South African had a very good year, reaching the US Open final, for the first time ever. Yes, over the past decade, he has been pretty solid, but not spectacular. Now, though, he is more patient, and he has improved his attack at the net, too. He might be too tall, though; so it is hard to get down on the ground. However, he is now more efficient, so maybe he will crack the top 10, again. But top 5? I cannot see it.

No. 15: Jo-Wilfred Tsonga
The thoughtful Frenchman always changes tactics. Over the years, he has come close to win a Grand Slam , but he has fallen short. This is because he is frequently injured, and he also panics when he goes deep in the majors. Yes, he has a great first serve, a gigantic forehand, and he returns fairly well, but he isn’t incredable fast. Plus, his backhand is so-so. Still. You have to give him another shot to grab a Grand Slam. Maybe at the Aussie Open, or Roland Garros.

2017 top players: women’s 11-15

 

TennisReporters.net will review 2017’s top 30 women and men, our annual feature.

No. 11: Kristina Mladenovic
As the Frenchwoman said, she was great from January through June, and then, she totally collapsed. She says that the pressure came on and she couldn’t shake it. She couldn’t think anymore, and she became very frustrated. In the first five months, she was unbelievably good, on hard courts and on clay. She is super strong, plays with a lot of variety, either way back on the baseline and putting away at the net. If Kiki gets her head on straight, she could actually reach the Grand Slam final. If not, she can disappear once again.

No. 12: Svetlana Kuznetsova
The Russian has been playing for eons, having won the US Open in 2004 when she was very young, confident and she believed in herself. That was 13 years ago and now, she plays tournament after tournament, playing fantastic, and the next week, she gets mentally down and then she plays flat. That is Sveta, who loves to talk —which is a very good thing — but she got hurt towards the end of the year and now, she cannot go to Australia in 2018. Hopefully, she will returns in February, and she will be fresh. And maybe next year, she will win her third Grand Slam [she also won Roland Garros, on clay, in 2010] and then, she will be thrilled and continuing on forever. There is no doubt that she will become a coach someday.

No. 13: Sloane Stephens
A couple years after she started on the WTA Tour in 2010, the American looked like she would win a major pretty soon. She was so fast, so steady, and pretty smart overall. But then when she was close to winning the Slams, at the Aussie and Wimbledon, she backed off. Then she fell down mentally. Hello, 2016! She underwent surgery and could not play for nine months. When she returned, and for the first time, she went for it. She had an amazing summer, and eventually, she won the US Open. After that, she was exhausted and failed to win a match in Asia, and even at the Fed Cup final. In 2018, she can certainly win another Grand Slam. She is that good. 

No. 14: Julia Goerges
What a great year by the German, who did very little against the big guns before this year. In 2017, she raised her head and rarely backed off. Another veteran, she realized that if she can actually push forward, be aggressive, and be patient, then she would have a legitimate chance to go deep. And she did. Can she crack the top 10 for the first time? Sure she can. She wants it badly.

No. 15 Anastasia Pavlyuchekova
The “other” Russian is another veteran, who plays great at times, and then she gets down on herself and she checks out. However, in 2017, she finally became more consistent, which is why now, at four different Grand Slams, she has reached the quarters. In 2018, perhaps she will reach the semis for the first time? Hmmm

 

2017 top players: men’s 16-20

TennisReporters.net will review 2017’s top 30 women and men, our annual feature.

No. 16: Andy Murray
The Brit was on fire during the second half of 2016. He was winning everything, he was confident, and he never tired. But in 2017, his body began to betray him. Murray played way too much, and finally, he had to come home. He stopped playing for the rest of the year. Obviously, he loves tennis, watching it, paying attention to it, talking and learning. But it 2018, Andy has to stop going from tournament to tournament. This time, he has to rest and be concise. And then if he does, he can win another Grand Slam, probably a few.

No. 17: John Isner
The American had a so-so year, winning a couple small titles. At the Slams, he was mentally out of it. He really improved his backhand, and he has gotten better when he is at the net. But still, it is so hard for him to break serve, while obviously, he wins his own huge serve very frequently. Tiebreaker coming — again. However, if Isner wants to reach the semis at a Slam, he has to change something, or the 32-year-old will never be able to win a Slam. That would be sad. 

No. 18: Lucas Pouille
This was a good year by the 23-year-old Frenchmen. After all, the so-called youngsters are good, but they have yet to win a Slam yet. In order to do so, they have to push themselves hard. Pouille recently won Vienna over Jo Tsonga and Stuttgart over Feliciano Lopez. Pretty good. However, he played too much and lost in the early rounds too many, many times. He needs to be more patient and efficient. He can reach the top 10 next year, if he continues to grow. 

No. 19: Tomas Berdych
The Czech has been very consistent over the past 10 years. He is tall, strong, and he crushes his forehand and his backhand. But the reason why he hasn’t won a major yet is because he is a little slow when he is running and he can get pretty nervous at the end of the match. He did manage to reach the final at Wimbledon, and he has beaten a number of the top competitors — once in a while. But, in 2018, he has re-tool his game or he will drop even further.

No. 20: Roberto Bautista Agut
The Spanish veteran has finally woke up, smelled the roses, and now, he isn’t just playing on the clay courts. He is moving forward, and when he has an opportunity, he can crack the ball on the lines. Still, he is consistent, but the lack of a big weapon has kept him from winning a big event. Can he win a Slam or the ATP Masters 1000? I doubt it.

2017 top players: women’s 16-20

TennisReporters.net will review 2017’s top 30 women and men, our annual feature.

No. 16: Anastasija Sevastova
I was pretty surprised that the Latvian finally broke into the top 20. After all, she is 27 years old. Four years ago, she quit because she was depressed and her body was very sore all the time. But she returned and at the US Open, she hung in there, stunned Maria Sharapova, and she nearly upended Sloane Stephens. Could she crack the top 10 for the first time? Sure, why not; she loves tennis once again.

No. 17: Ashleigh Barty
The Aussie has improved so much this season. In 2016, she just returned after taking off almost two years, quitting because she was emotionally exhausted and tired of tennis. But she wanted to come back. Now, not only is Ash so strong, but she added consistency to her strokes and she is no longer being shaky. Without a doubt, she can reach  the top 10, and possibly, go very deep at the Grand Slams.

No. 18: Elena Vesnina
The Russian has been around for a long time, and she also loves playing the doubles and, with Ekaterina Makarova is one of the best. In singles, she finally understood that she needs to be aggressive to win. Obviously, she is fast, and at the net, she can bend down and she softly puts it just over the baseline. She rarely gives up winners. Can she win a major? I would be very surprised.   

No. 19: Madison Keys
This American had some excellent matches, but overall, she gets bruised, frequently. Yes, she has a huge first serve, and she can crush her forehand and her backhand. Downsides are: she isn’t incredibly fast, she doesn’t love the net, and she can get very angry emotionally when she isn’t playing well. Look, she has reached the Grand Slam semis and clearly, she is still young and very talented. However, in 2018, she has to stay healthy and be soothing — on court, that is.

No. 20: Magdalena Rybarikova
The Slovakian is 29 years old. Over time, she found out that she has to be more patient. She is a big hitter, especially with her forehand. She did reach the semis at Wimbledon, which is fantastic, but after that, she slid. In 2018, maybe she should stop playing almost every week? I would say, yes.

2017 top players: men’s 21-25

TennisReporters.net will review 2017’s top 30 women and men, our annual feature.

No. 21: Nick Kyrgios
When the Aussie is into it, he is about as good as he gets. Nick has a tremendous first serve, huge forehand, good slice on the backhand and is pretty good when he is at the net. The big downsides are he doesn’t want to play hard all the time and he gets hurt frequently. Then, he disappears. Look, it’s all about him. Nick is very young, but he needs decide if he really wants to be a tennis player.

No. 22: Kei Nishikori
I have no idea what Nishikori is going to do in 2018. Just like Raonic, I really though that the now 27-year-old Kei would get better and better and eventually will win a major. Or even win an ATP 1000. But, he gets hurt constantly. Sure, he is a fantastic player when he is into it, but every time deep in a tournaments, we start thinking, “Is he going to retire tonight, because his body is about to collapse?” I hope not, but he has to figure out how he can adjust his frame to the hard rigors of pro tennis.

No. 23: Albert Ramos-Vinolas
The 29-year-old Spaniard had a fine year. Sure, it has taken a long time to figure out the hard courts, but still, now he is willing to move forward and he can mix it up whenever he can. He needs to push himself even more, with his backhand, especially.   

No. 24: Milos Raonic
A few years ago, I was pretty sure that he was about to win Grand Slam. He came close, reaching the final at Wimbledon, bu,t as he says, he gets hurt all the time. I mean, almost every second. That’s why in 2018, he has to stay healthy for the entire year. On court, when he’s 100 percent, he has become so much better, especially with his backhand and at the net. If he keep focused and not overthink, the 26-years-old Raonic can actually win a major for the first time. Imagine that.

No. 25: Gilles Muller
The 34-year-old had a very good year. It has taken, what, 15 years before he realized that, in order to win a tournament, he had to stick with a strategy and not panic. In 2017 he won his first ATP title – ever – in Sydney. He is very tall, he loves to come into the net and while he isn’t that fast running, he focuses. Maybe he can reach the semi at a major in 2018. He would be thrilled.

2017 top players: women’s 21-25

TennisReporters.net will review 2017’s top 30 women and men, our annual feature.

No. 21: Angie Kerber
This was not a good year for the German. In 2016, she grabbed two Grand Slams. This season, she won absolutely nothing. Still, she is a fantastic player. Next season she has to shake it off. When she is running around on court with her great speed, she cannot overthink. She has to lock in and stay there.

No. 22: Serena Williams
Strange to see that ranking for the best woman in tennis history. The now-famous mom won the Aussie Open but didn’t play much in 2017. The 36-year-old is extremely happy where she is right now, practicing while on her honeymoon. The question is: Will Serena actually return and play again? I would think so that she will, but it will take her months to get into shape. And then …another major?

No. 23: Barbora Strycova
The Czech Strycova has a lot of variety, and when she is into it and she plays well, then dance and mix it up all over the place. However, she plays all the time, and during certain weeks, she loses her drive. But in 2018, she will push into the top 10, at least for a week or so.   
 
No. 24: Daria Kasatkina
The Russian is coming up pretty quickly, and she is only 20 years old. Cracking the top 25 is very good, considering that few of the youngsters can beat the great, older competitors. Daria already, beating two Slammers, Venus Williams and Angie Kerber. She has won on hard courts and on clay; you know she is confident, anytime, anywhere. In 2018, if she stays healthy, she can actually win a major soon.    

No. 25: Daria Gavrilova
The Aussie Gavrilova had a very good year. Yes, she hasn’t won a major yet, nor has she won a gigantic title, but she tries hard every time she walks on court. This season her goal must be to crack the lines, rather than pushing the ball and merely being steady. She could go deep at the 2018 Australian Open. The fans love her.

2017 top players: men’s 26-30

TennisReporters.net will review 2017’s top 30 women and men, our annual feature.

No. 26: Diego Schwartzman
The 25-year-old Argentine had a pretty good year, reaching the US Open quarters, and he made it to the final at the European Open in Belgium. He is fast, and quick, and agile. If he wants to reach the top 10, he has to attack the net more often.

No. 27: Fabio Fognini
The Italian had a decent year at time, taking down Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Lucas Pouille. He likes to mix it up, to chop it, and he goes for the lines. At times, he is a beautiful player, but at other times, he gets totally losing control. He’s outstripped Nick Kygrios as the current tennis bad boy. In 2018, if he can find a calm space, he could reach the final at a Grand Slam for the first time. But, but not at Wimbledon, because he can’t figure out on grass. 

No. 28 Adrian Mannarino
The 29-year-old Mannarino is up and down, playing great, and then mentally, he gets very frustrated. The Frenchman did reach the final of Tokyo, and he knocked out Gail Monfils at Wimbledon. He is very good, but he is not a fantastic player. Maybe in 2018, he will find a better form.

No. 29: Philipp Kohlschreiber
The veteran plays all the time, and he is rarely injured. He likes to spin, and slice, and crack the ball. He is a very good competitor, but to win a major? I cannot see that.

No. 30: Damir Džumhur
The Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina native Dzumhur had a breakout year, winning Petersburg and Moscow while reaching the final in Winston-Salem.He started the year ranked No. 77 and now he is in the top 30. He seems to like hard courts, but he does not love grass, or even clay. Obviously, the 25-year-old is still learning to play, and he is playing much better.

2017 top players: women’s 26-30

TennisReporters.net will review 2017’s top 30 women and men, our annual feature.

No. 26: Dominika Cibulkova
Domi entered the year and it looked like she could actually win a major. That didn’t happen. The long-time veteran can’t figure out how to mix up her shots and strategy. She has to, because if she can’t, she will never win a Grand Slam.

No. 27: Shuai Peng
Shuai has been around for a solid 15 years, and she is very steady and she can move forward. Her weakness is mental; she backs off when it is very close. At this point, it is better for her to focus on doubles.

No. 28: Aga Radwanska
That was a bad year by Aga, who has reached No. 2, and she has come pretty close at the Slams. Overall, she has improved a tremendous amount, but her forehand is still mediocre and that really hurts. Maybe she can pull out of this funk in 2018, but the clock is ticking. She may retire soon.

No. 29: Petra Kvitova
Props for Petra to come back after she was attacked at her home at the end of 2016. The Czech returned in late in May and, as she says, she has to start all over again. The two-time champion Kvitova has a tremendous amount of work ahead, but she is a darn good player, and she will come back eventually.

No. 30: Lucie Safarova
Lucie is another player who was injured and it took her a long time to get more healthy. The Czech has reached the final at Roland Garros a couple years ago, and she can be a big hitter. And she loves to rush at the net and put away the ball. Plus, she has won a number of huge events in doubles. She will rise again in 2018.

Dimitov wins the ATP Finals, beats Goffin

Next year, Grigor Dimitov will be a serious contender to win a Grand Slam. This season, he has calmed down, he practiced a ton and, for the first time, he actually listened to his coaches. 

The Bulgarian nailed it, winning the ATP Finals, upending  David Goffin in three fun sets, 7-5 4-6 6-3.

He is very personable, and intelligent. Fine. On court, he needs to find out what his opponent is doing. Right at the end, he was nervous and tight, but he knew that if he just held on, was patient, and when he had an opportunity, then he could crack the ball off both sides. With championship points slipping away, Dimitrov didn’t break down mentally.

Just a couple years ago, Dimitov was confused, mixing his backhand. Too often, it was out, or short, but not deep in the court. The players would jump on him. Dimitov would shake his head, would put his face down and he could not recover.

But in 2017, he didn’t give up. Even after he won the ATP 1000 Masters Series in Cincy in August, he lost early at the US Open. He was so-so in Asia. Oddly, when he arrived in London, he knew that if he began to play great, then he could actually win it all.

The now No. 3 Dimitrov did, beating a tenacious Goffin early. Then he beat Dominic Theim, Pablo Carreno Busta, and Jack Sock in the semis. Ithe final, he faced the Belgian Goffin one more time.

He beat him and he was overjoyed.

“This makes me even more locked in, more excited about my work, and for what’s to come,” the two-time Grand Slam semifinal Dimitov said. “It’s a great platform for me to build on for next year.” 

ATP Finals: Calm and cool, Dimitov vs. Sock in semis


In first glance, it looks like that the two-time Grand Slam semifinalist Grigor Dimitov is favored against Jack Sock. But oh no, it’s a tossup. Whilethe Bulgarian has risen into the top 6, he and Sock have played four times, and the American has beaten Dimirov three times. 

Their last battle occurred at Indian Wells in March, with Sock edging Dimitrov 7-6(7) in the third. Sock was playing well then, by changing the tactics game after game. 
In 2015 at Roland Garros, in the first round, Sock nailed Dimitrov — on clay, mind you — in straight sets. Two months later, they faced off again, this time on the hard courts at the Canadian Masters Open, and Sock edged Dimitrov 7-5 in the third. 

The only time Dimitrov has gotten Sock was indoor in Stockholm three years ago.
This season, Dimitrov has been more consistent and calm, while Sock has been up and down.

In the last few months, Sock has lifted his game. Now both of then have been playing better, and finally, showing positive attitudes and smarts. 
American Sock hasn’t been going go for the lines early. He takes his time, especially with his two-handed backhand. When he gets to the net, he can put it away. Still he has a weakness on low volleys; he finds it difficult to get way down and put it in the right spot. 
Dimitrov is very decent at the net and could do well to attack more. No, he is just fine spinning his different shots from his hard forehand, and his complicated one-handed backhand.

For Dimitrov to win, he can’t just wait to see if Sock is playing wildly. It is a huge match, and when he gets an opportunity, Dimitrov has to go for the lines, and fast. 
Coming into here at the beginning of the ATP Finals, Sock was almost stunned that he got in, given that for six months, he was out of it mentally. Then, a few weeks ago, he stopped getting so frustrated, and realized it is OK to miss a shot or two. He began to raise his chip shots. He understood which way to hit the right ball bounces. And he did.

Both of them want to win — badly. They want to reach the final, the last tournament of the year. They will go into the third set, and this time, Sock will beat Dimitrov again, edging him 6-4 in the third. The Americans are finally rising again, and that is a good thing.

Roger Federer vs. David Goffin
Obviously, Federer is a serious favorite. Yes, Belgian Goffin is very steady and this year he became more aggressive and smart, but he has yet to beat the top guys. Goffin will push hard, and he likes to have long rallies. This hard court is not so fast, and not so slow, which helps Goffin a little. Either way, Federer will win in two sets.