TennisReporters.net top 32 men: No. 15-11

Casper Ruud

15 Karen Khachanov
The big Russian started very strong, reaching the semis at the Aussie Open, smashing the ball, and finally losing against Stefanos Tsitsipas. He has a huge forehand, and his first serve is massive, but he isn’t that fast when he is running, and he doesn’t like to come into the net, often. At Miami, he did upset Stefanos Tsitsipas in the round of 16, which means that he can lock in, at times, but in the semis, the other Russian,  Daniil Medvedev, wore him down. He had a up and down year, winning a few more terrific wins, but in the fall, he did very little. He did win the ATP 1000 Paris, five years ago, so if he wants to do it again, he must slice it more, and attack when he is returning.

14 Grigor Dimitrov
In 2017, the Bulgarian won four events, especially at the ATP Finals in London, beating a variety of players, against David Goffin. He has a tremendous variety, especially with his cool one-handed backhand. He is peach  good at in the net, and his forehand can a lot of spin. However, he is 32- years-old, which is OK, but he has to change something that is new. He knows that, he lost against Alexander Zverev beat him three times in a row, at the end of the summer.  The positive thing is that while he can get dejected, during the matches, but he will continue on, and decide to whither to go. In November, he refreshed, and he reached the final in Paris, indoors. He beat two prime players, with Daniil Medvedev and Tsitsipas. He looked uncanny, but in the final, Djokovic once again banged him. He could win another title,a big one, but he must capital the moment.

13 Tommy Paul
The American improved a lot, this year, as when he started in 2021, he was OK, but his forehand and his backhand wasn’t rugged enough. However, last year and this year, he began to change, with his first serve, when he found the corners, and his return was more efficient. He reached the semis at the Aussie Open, beating Ben Shelton, but then Djokovic pounded him. Each week, he was really trying, being core, but also,  he would forget which way to go. The positive is that he reached the final in Acapulco, beating Taylor Fritz, and the in the semis in Toronto, when he almost shocked against Carlos Alcaraz in the quarters.  Yet after that, he started to miss some cheap shots, and he lost against Shelton twice, especially at the U.S. Open. Paul is more satisfied, but he knows that if he wants to get into the top 5 next year, he has to shove himself closer to the net, and also, to hit it, early. As he said going into at the 2024 Aussie Open: “I’m really excited,” said Paul. “It’s like every person’s dream when they start playing tennis to play the big matches at the Slams.It’s important to me. Since I was young, that’s all we’ve been hearing, since like 14 years old. The coaches have been telling us, ‘We need new Americans. It’s kind of engraved in my head.” Then go do it.

12 Alex de Minaur
The Aussie had some terrific matches, as he plays a lot, taking down against some ultrafine players, but also, he did lost when he tripped it up, when Djokovic bullied him at the Aussie Open. Yet in Acapulco, in March, he won it, beating Holger Rune and Paul. That was a immense jump. He did very little on the clay, but on the grass, his backhand returned, and his forehand was merciless. He reached the final in London/Queen’s, and belief it or not, he beat Rune again. Then in the final, against Carlos Alcaraz, the Spaniard served into the corners, and also, he has more multifariousness. With de Minaur, you don’t really know if he can be so intense, but he did for some weeks in the summer, when he looked fantastic in Los Cabos, and Toronto, reaching both finals, upsetting with Taylor Fritz and Daniil Medvedev.  And then, in the U.S. Open, there,  Medvedev turned the tables and beat the Aussie in four, easy sets. De Minaur is pretty young, and he educated  a lot this year, but in the  fall, he did not do that much. Next year,  he wants to get into the top 5, then he has to clean it up, each month.

11 Casper Ruud
Another 24-year-old had an sole year, as the Norway was ranked No. 3, and in the first three months, he won very few matches. Finally, he started to be much more proper, and thoughtful, when he won Estoril, Portugal. That is not a huge event, but he had to beat anyone, so he did. He was finally satisfied, and to watch him, he can meld it into the corners, or in the middle, eye-full. He reached the final at Roland Garros, and he was much more suitable, beating Rune and Zverev. In the final, he hit some daydreamer shots, and it was somewhat close, but once again, the No. 1 Djokovic  has a better backhand, and returning, too.  After that, he began to bust, and clearly, in the final, his legs must been tired.  He really is a first-rate player, and if you recall it, in 2022, he reached four grand events in Miami, Roland Garros, the U.S. Open, and the ATP Finals. He is right again, so in January, he will be refreshed, and then he has to be a couple new shots, with his athletic first serve, and at the top of the net.

Grigor Dimitrov over Andrey Rublev in Shanghai semifinal

Grigor Dimitrov

Ten years ago in Brisbane, Australia, Grigor Dimitrov won the tournament, and he said that soon, not only can he beat anyone, but he can win a Grand Slam. He hasn’t yet, but the 32-year-old still has a chance, a small one, but something.

In Shanghai, he has reached into the semis, after beating Carlos Alcaraz  and Nicolas Jarry with some powerful strokes.

In 2017,  Dimitrov was locked in, at times, and he won Cincinnati 1000, as well as the ATP Finals in London. His confidence is rising, at least this week.

“I don’t think I did anything crazy in those moments, I just kept on believing in my game, kept going after my shots. I was trying to apply pressure with the hope that [Jarry]  might make a few mistakes, and he did,” Dimitrov said.

However, the Bulgarian will face against Andrey Rublev on Saturday. He could win, and he travels a lot, country to country, yet when he is on, he can move it around, all over the place, but also, his return is so-so. Plus his one harder with his backhand can be terrific, but Dimitrov will miss it, and to short. But he really likes to talk, off-court, which is good.

“[Beating Alcaraz] helps confidence-wise, but also it was just another match, if you think about it,” said Dimitrov. “I didn’t have much time to overthink it, I just had a little bit of a chat with the team and tried to see what I did pretty good, what worked, what didn’t, and what I could do better in the next round.  We didn’t have much time to think about that but of course I take all the positives out of it because you need to feed off this every single round.”  

If he beats Rublev and he reaches the final in the ATP 1000, it will be six years since his last final appearance at that level. That is a very long time.

Dimitrov over Rublev
Rublev looks terrific when he is playing very well, with his potent forehand and his backhand, But he can also blow it. However, in April on the clay, he won Monte-Carlo. Yes, just like everyone, he wants to win a Grand Slam, but how about this, win another at the ATP 1000, and then most people would think that in 2024, he can win a major. Dimitrov will grab it 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 over Rublev.

That was an incredible match when Seb Korda beat the other American Ben Shelton 6-7(10), 6-2, 7-6(6) to reach the semis. In the breaker, in the third set, it was a toss-up, but he hit some solid, deep, shots, and he won it. The two young players will face each other for a longish  time. Or not, as it depends who will go deep a lot. Sort of like Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal.

Korda will play versus Hubert Hurkacz, who has had a solid year, especially on the hard courts. At the Australian Open, in the fourth round, he lost against Korda 7-6(6) in the fifth set. What a crazy game. Now they will play each other again, on Saturday, and without a doubt, Hurkacz will hit so many aces. He can crack the ball, but the tall Polish person is is not running that fast. But two and a half years ago, he won Miami, and he did everything. However, in Shanghai, China, he will over-hit, and Korda will win it 5-7, 7-6 (3), 7-5.

US Open picks: Saturday, Sept. 2

Elina Svitolina
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Jessica Pegula  over Elina Svitolina
Talk about dozens of rallies, and which which way to go, as both of them know each other very well. They can be steady, and changed it up. Svitolina can try to hit it hard, early, and Pegula will be patient. They are both veterans, and they have beaten a number of the other top five players, as they can know which way to do. However, neither has won a Grand Slam yet, so at the U.S. Open, they really think that if they play well, they can actually grab it the second week.

Svitolina has had a very good season, when she added some interesting shot, but so has Pegula, who has really pushed herself, and she can accept that. As she said: “I just worked really hard at it. I think I became a lot more confident in who I was around 24 years old. If I mess up it’s on me, but this is my decision.”

The American will win the match in the third set, with some huge forehand, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Jannik Sinner over Stan Wawrinka
The older Swiss has had some fantastic shots at the U.S. Open, with his huge spin. Wawrinka has won it three Grand Slams, so clearly, he has been thoughtful, on court. He might be aging, and he will likely retired next year, but right now,he wants to go deep one more time at the Slams.

He must be, but the Italian Sinner is more forceful, and powerful, when he is playing. He does get angry, when he is missing way out, but at least during the summer, he is more consistent. Sinner has to know that they will play at least for two hours, or more, but either way, he is faster, when he is running, and also, with his his forehand. Sinner will take it 3-6, 6-5, 6-3, 6-2.

Alexander Zverev over Grigor Dimitrov
The German reached the final at the 2021 US Open, and he almost won it, but Dominic Thiem threw in some cool, tremendous shots. But now he will have another chance to win it for the first time, but Zverev  is still slightly recovering, as at the 2022 Roland Garros in the semis, he fell down and almost crushed his body. He could not play until January, and while he has looked better and better, but he is still is not 100 percent. He does have a lot of shots, but he can also back up.

Dimitrov seems to be playing very well, knocking out Andy Murray. He does have a cool one-handed backhand, and he also can chuck it in around. However, he is not in the top 20, and years ago, he could go very deep, but now, he might be fading. There, Zverev will win it 64, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6.

Madison Keys over Liudmila Samsonova
It is early enough for the American not to become hurt, on the court, so she can control what she has to do. Keys is a big hitter, off both sides, and when she has a chance, she can try to rake it. However, Samsonova can also rally, and she can go for the winner. She had a terrific week in Montreal, reaching into the final, knocking off a bunch of fine players. However, she is unpredictable, whether when she can find it in the corners, or she can miss it, a lot.

Keys  can do the same thing, currently, but she has gone deep at the Grand Slams, so on Saturday, she will win it in three, tough, sets, 7-6, 3-6, 6-4. 

US Open picks: Thursday, August 31

Grigor Dimitrov
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Andy Murray over Grigor Dimitrov
A long time ago, Murray won the U.S. Open, before he grabbed Wimbledon, twice, which was a huge deal, in London. Yet before that, on the hardcourts, he was young, and super steady, and he also was intense, all the time. Yet eventually, his body broken down, and he almost  retired. But while he is aging, he still looks pretty good. He is not perfect, but he can read how to do it the right way.

However, after three hours, he gets a little bit tired. The same goes is that the Bulgarian, Dimitrov, who has been playing for a king-sized time, but one point, he beat a number of the great players, and he could really mix i up. His one-handed backhand can be a blast, and his forehand can also smash it deep. But while he did reach into the Grand Slams semis, he has not been able to jump into the final. He probably won’t do it, but he does have a chance to go deep  into the second week. Murray knows that he doesn’t have a real chance to win the U.S. Open, but he can certainly have a great show. As he said: “I’m at my highest ranking since I had the metal hip put in so I’m happy with that,” said Murray. “It’s not been an easy journey and obviously I’d like to be ranked higher. This is the best I’ve played consistently since probably 2017.” On Thursday, Murray will take it in five, long sets, around 6-3, one break. 

Andrey Rublev over Gael Monfils
The Frenchman has had a fine summer, winning a bunch of matches. He is older, and Monfils  can get hurt a lot, but he has improved his second serve and his backhand, which were mediocre, year after year. He has changed, slightly, and also, he is more forceful.

However, the Russian is more powerful, with his hard forehand and his first serve. He is quicker, and he does like to move the ball around. Rublev has won a number of matches this year, and while he has know to freak out, he can re-think it. His coaches will tell him to be calm, as the crowds will be cheering for the popular Monfils, but in the fourth set, Rublev  will take it 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5).

Madison Keys over Yanina Wickmayer
The American usually starts early, looking very good, swinging hard, and she will nail a number of winners. But gradually, at least the last couple years, she gets hurt, and then she looks slow on court. Keys will also miss a lot of errors, and then she will disappear. Hopefully she won’t at the U.S. Open, but there is along way to go. 

Believe it or not, Wickmayer was in the top 12, back in 2009, when she reached into the U.S. Open semis. She could outlast in the matches, with some fine strokes. However, she went down, and while she continues to win some good matches, at the small tournaments, she still has yet to knock down the best players. Therefore, Keys will win it in two, decent sets, 6-3, 6-3.

Daria Kasatkina

Sofia Kenin over Daria Kasatkina
Two days ago,  Kenin  looked sharp, winning a match with more than a few difficult shots, into the corners. She still is trying to get better, day after day, and the 2020  champion be confused, but she can focus. The Russian Kasatkina has had a very decent year, beating a number of people, but not against the top 10 players. She can be proper, and she does like to mix it up, but at times, her forehand can be too shorts. This is a toss-up, but Kenin will climb up, and win it 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

The Finals Picks: Saturday, May 29

Elina Svitolina

In Geneva: Grigor Dimitrov over Nicolas Jarry
The Bulgarian just said that in the next couple years, that the veteran wants to win a few more big events. Well Dimitrov can, as long as he can not only be consistent, but to crack the ball with his heavy forehand and his stylish backhand. He can lose control, and he will be upset, physically, and then he will lose, but he can recover.

In the final against Jarry, he will have to figure it out how. Last year he wasn’t doing much, but this week he upset Casper Ruud and Alexander Zverev . “I have been playing good tennis and working a lot,” Jarry said. “To be able to play like this against Casper [Ruud] and against Sascha, I am so happy with all the work.”

He must have worked all the time, and also, he added more types of new shots. On clay, Jarry is very comfortable on the dirt, but the Chilean still has to nail the ball, especially in the final. Because of that Grigor Dimitrov will win a very long match in Geneva.

In Lyon: Francisco Cerundolo over Arthur Fils
The Argentine has had a pretty good years, on the hardcourts and in the clay, with some interesting strokes. He can really mix it up, and he is also fast, when he is running. He does really like to use the crosscourt, and down the line, off both sides. His serves are so-so, and his return is good, but not great, as he has yet to go into the top 20. But close, now.

The 18-year-old Arthur Fils from France is now quickly rising, and he has beaten a number of a few good players. He can really hustle, and he can also be super patient. Yes, he can miss a number of error, but he still will continue to drive with some engaging strokes. Fils will got into the top 100 this year, or faster, but in the final, Cerundolo will grind it down in three, longish, sets.

In Strasbourg: Elina Svitolina over Anna Blinkova
The former No. 2 Elina Svitolina has recently returned after she had a child, and it is still time to reset all of her goals. She really likes to rally, and she can be intense, although the reason why she has yet to win the Grand Slam is because she gets pretty troubled, and then she would back off. But perhaps she is changing.

This week, Anna Blinkova said that she was thinking about what she should do, to either just stay back and hope the opponent will miss one, but now on clay, she decided to attack early. Apparently, she did, and it will be close, but Svitolina will win it, her 17th titles, which is very, very good.

In Rabat: Lucia Bronzetti over Julia Grabher
The Italian Lucia Bronzetti can be loyal, and she can also scramble. Last year she put together some fine wins, but she also tripped it, at the the matches. This week, it does look like that she wants to be more fitting, and to figure it out, win or lose. This week, she certainly has.
 
The Austria has had a medicore year, winning a few decent matches, but losing against to a variety with the players. Grabher can be solid, at times, but she doesn’t hit the ball with enough pace. However, this week she was very solid, and damn steady. She might do it, again, but Bronzetti will out hit her with her better forehand and she will win it in three, savage, sets.

The Picks in Rome: Friday, May 12

Grigor Dimitrov
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Stan Wawrinka over Grigor Dimitrov
Is the Swiss ready to fly, again? Wawrinka has not had a great year, but the brilliant backhand can begin to roll, even though he is 38-year-old. He can push himself, deep in the corners and put it away.

The Bulgarian Dimitrov can also throw so many interesting rallies, and the one-hander can really mix it up, as well he can flat in out. His serve is OK, and at the net, he is pretty good, but not spectacular.  Dimitrov has had some wonderful matches, at the Slams, but he will likely not come back into the top 5 again. I might be wrong, but in order to do it, then he has to beat the former Roland Garros champion, Wawrinka. He won’t on the clay right now, as the Swiss will win it in three massive sets.

Novak Djokovic over Tomas Martin Etcheverry
Two years ago, the Serbian won Rome, beating Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas. He was playing great, when he was so steady, and he was almost perfect with his phenomenal backhand. He thinks a lot, on court, and he could miss once in a while, but he can recover.

Etcheverry is pretty young, and clearly, he is trying to improve his serves, at the net, and with more power. He did reach in the final in Houston and in Chile, this year, when he had some terrific matches. However, he has yet to beat the top 10 players, so the though that to stun Djokovic is a little bit crazy. The 21 Grand Slam winner Djokovic will win in two easy sets.

Sebastian Korda over Roman Safiullin
So many young people think that he or she believe that they are so good, on the court, and very soon, they will rise into the the top 20. Or the top 10. Or the famous No. 1. But the older they get, they realize that the other players are also very, very good, so that they will lose, which is difficult.

Korda knows all about when he started, and he would practice all the time. He knew that once he reached into the ATP Tour, he was ready to beat many players. He has done that, slowly. Unfortunately, Korda grew hurt after the 2023 Australian Open and he had to stop for a three months. He is in the top 30, and the 22-year-old can play extremely consistent, and he can also hit the ball on the lines. He grew up in Florida, so he does know what the hardcourts is, but in the clay, he still has to learn where to go. As we said about Safiullin two days ago, the Russian has had a decent year, and he did upset Marcos Giron in Rome. He must have bee thrilled when he made it to the second round, but Korda will pound him, and he will win it in three very long sets.

Matt’s yesterday picks

Correct: Marie Bouzkova over Caty McNally
Correct: Caroline Garcia over Ana Bogdan

Aryna Sabalenka over Sofia Kenin
Jessica Pegula over Taylor Townsend

Matt’s picks from Rome

3 out of 7, 42.8% correct

TennisReporters.net’s top 32 in 2022: men 32-26

Tommy Paul
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

32. Tommy Paul
The American had a fine year, not because he is not in the top 10, but last year he was laboring. On court, he would attempt to grind it, but in order to beat the very good players, he has to hit it much more harder. That he did, when this year, in Paris, he upset Roberto Bautista Agut, Rafa Nadal, and Pablo Carreno Busta. That was pretty darn good. Still, in order to reach in the top 20, he will have to improve his return and his second serve.

31. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
It is very interesting that the Spaniard, who must be thinking that just like with Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz — the Slam winners, that if he continues to be much more laid back, then he will be able to leap into the top 10. If so, he is going to hit it much more harder and really push it. If he does not, then he will not be able to go super far at the ATP 1000s, let alone at the Slams.

30. Francisco Cerundolo
There are so many Argentines who are super respectable. But can Cerundolo chop down the big boys? Well, he is trying as he started ranked No. 127 and is now top 30. On clay, he became much more confident, scoring wins with his big forehand. He was happy on court, but in the last four months, he froze. Hopefully in 2023, he can find his direction and ram it up into the top 15.

29. Miomir Kecmanovic
The Serbian began to rise up this year, reaching the quarters at Indian Wells and Miami. He is not quite ready to beat the great players, but at least he upset Felix Auger-Aliassime. His forehand and backhands are stout. Yes, he played some terrific matches. But he is not steady enough and he lost too early. He will have to change it in 2023, to hand it closer to the lines.

28. Grigor Dimitrov
Years ago, the Bulgarian was mixing it up and his one-hander backhand was effective. He reached the top 10 and also made it into a three Grand Slam semis. The veteran can be a blast when he is on, but then he would be so-so in the match and can be so erratic and frustrated. He has not improved enough, especially at the net. Before he retires, he has to add some different shots. Please do.

27. Daniel Evans
The 32-year-old Britain veteran had a decent year, winning Nottingham on grass. But at Wimbledon, he went down immediately in the first round. That was brutal. Yes, he can be very steady, and he is much more thoughtful, but the problem is that while he wants to win a huge tournament, he has not been able to do it. There will be another chance to go super deep at the Slams. At least one more time.

26. Borna Coric
Mr. Consistent finally played perfectly, winning Cincinnati, beating Nadal, Auger-Aliassime, Cameron Norrie and Stefanos Tsitsipas. That was a stunner, as he has been pretty good, but not spectacular. He is fast, and he runs, plus he can play a long time during the rallies. Yes, he got hurt and then he came back, and he changed it up a little bit, with his serve. He may never win a Slam, but at least he is more effective now.

Four picks on Thursday at the US Open

Grigor Dimitrov
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Grigor Dimitrov vs Brandon Nakashima
Is it possible that the Bulgarian can reach the semis at a Grand Slam once again? The cool backhander did go deep at Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the US Open. In 2017, he was ranked No. 3, winning the ATP Finals. It was clear that each year, with his terrific strokes, he did say that yes, I certainly will win a Grand Slam. Unfortunately, he hasn’t yet, and he is starting to slow down. However, can still rock the boat. Yet American Nakashima is trying to gain speed but his shots were not deep enough. He has had some good wins, but the 21-year-old is ranked No. 69, so he has continue finding new gears. It is so hard to tell how Dimitrov will play, but in this match, he will sweep the American and win it in three sets.

Iga Świątek vs Sloane Stephens
When No. 1 Świątek starts in a point she can hit it so hard, with her forehand and backhand. She will go for it almost immediately. Yes, Ash Barty retired after she won at the Australian Open, leaving the top ranking open. Then Świątek won match after match. However, when she easily won at Roland Garros (she just lost one set) but then she began to slump a little bit, losing three tournaments a row. Look, you cannot win all the time, it is impossible, even with great players such as Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. Swiatek has won two Grand Slams at RG. So, this year, she has won six titles — excellent titles — but she is not in their class yet. Stephens won the USO, but she pulled back after that. Still, she is not in the top 32. Of course, she can be super consistent, still, but she hasn’t improved enough. When she is happy, on court, then she thinks about what to do, she can snap back into form. Once again, there will be some bewitching points, but Świątek will storm early and win it in three sets.

Borna Coric vs Jenson Brooksby

The Serbian just won Winston-Salem. He said he wasn’t sure that when he came back after his surgery, he will not win a lot  all the time. But slowly, he started to be consistent and really go for it. So, in the past 10 days, he was much more dependable. The 21-year-old American Brooksby has put together a number of very good wins. However, in three months, he was very solid, but after Miami, he began to slump. Yes, here and there, he can be very good, but in the last three tournaments, he was confused, and he lost quickly. Of course, he can rip it with his forehand and backhand, but he can also miss a lot. Coric won a long five-setter in the first round and will have to find ways to break down Brooksby. Coric will win in four difficult sets.

Belinda Bencic vs Sorana Cirstea
The Swiss can look amazing, running around and mixing it up, but then she would lose control. She can be thrilling, and then she can also look lazy. She has always been a fascinating person, but Bencic still doesn’t understand who she is. The veteran Cirstea is also trying to reach into the top 20 before she retires. Ten years ago, she did reach to the No. 21, and then she fell back. Currently now, the Romanian has had some OK wins, but not a lot in 2022. Maybe she can change it up and try to something new. Perhaps she will, but Bencic will out hit her with some incredible shots to win in straight sets.

TennisReporters.net 2021 year-end review: top 30-26, the men

Reilly Opelka


30. Marin Cilic
At the 2014 US Open, the Croat won the tournament hitting so hard with his big first serve. He was steady and he was controlled. He hit No. 3 but that was three years ago. This year, he looked pretty decent at times. He won St. Petersburg and Stuttgart, which terrific, but at the Grand Slams, or the ATP 1000’s, he did not go far. He is aging and, at 33, will he find a second wind.

29. Karen Khachanov
The Russian is also pretty tall, and three years ago, he became No. 8, as he has a gigantic serve and he can blast the ball. In 2019, he went deep at Roland Garros, Montreal and Beijing. He was riding high. This year he did have a couple good tournaments at the Olympics and Tokyo. He can bash it on the lines, and also, he can be intelligent. The 25-year-old works a lot, on and off the court, and probably plays too often. Maybe he can add more spin and his improve his return.

28. Grigor Dimitrov

The Bulgarian continues to do so many things, playing with a lot of variety. However, he can be frustrated when he is hitting the ball too short. He does like to mix it up, and he can also attack when he sees the chance. At this point, if he wants to come back into the top 10, he is going to have to shorten the points, and go for it, win or lose. If he doesn’t, then he won’t be able to go super deep at the Slams.

27. Lorenzo Sonego
The 26-year-old Italian had a pretty good year, upsetting two excellent players Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev in Rome and reaching the semis. He won Cagliari, as he seems to really like on the clay. On the hardcourts, he was mediocre at best. He has yet to go into the top 20, and he is close. But, if he really wants to improve, then he should change a few things, like with his serves, and his backhand. Just swing harder.

26. Reilly Opelka
The tall American had a very good year. He improved his foot speed, his first serve and forehand, which are huge. Mentally, on various tournaments, he finally saw that to win more matches, he had to decide and stick to his tactics. Plus, he ws hitting deeper into the court. That is why he finally broke into the top 30. Yes, towards the end, he wore down, but if he improves his return and works on attacking the net during the off season, then he has a chance to go into the top 15 in 2022. Even further? Sure, why not.

TennisReporters.net 2020 year-end review: top 16-20, men

Pablo Carreno Busta

20. Karen Khachanov
He loves to serve, and even without moving much, he can tear winners into the corners. The Russian had a classic match at the Australian Open, losing against Nick Kyrgios, 7-6(8) in the fifth set. They pounded it for many hours. Khachanov was so close, but he didn’t handle the returns, and needed to be faster when he is running around. In 2018, he won the ATP 1000 Paris, upsetting Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic en route to the title. But, he hasn’t taken a title since that year. In 2021, maybe he can some new shots with spin and trickery. He can easily stay within the top 20. The next step to the top 10 and consistently making  the second weeks at the Slams is quite possible but the 24-year-old needs to be more patient.

19. Grigor Dimitrov
He is now a veteran, as he won his first title in 2013 and captured the ATP Tour Finals in 2017. He has a lot of variety, and his a one-handed backhand can deliver a lot of twirl. However, this year he was toast. At the US Open, the Bulgarian lost in the second round, showing an incomplete game. There are times when he is on top of the world. Unfortunately, he has never won a major, even though the 29-year-old reached the Grand Slam semis three times. Yes, he can be a force, but he can become erratic. In 2021, he will have some great matches. But, I don’t see a return to the top-5.

18. Stan Wawrinka
How about this? The Swiss won three Grand Slams, beating Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic twice. He knows how to play on clay, and hardcourts. He doesn’t love Wimbledon, but he has made the effort. He has a divine backhand which he can return with depth. However, he has played for a very long time, and he looks to be slowing down. In the past two years, he was hurt a lot. Can Wawrinka return into the top-5 next year? I am sure that he will have some terrific wins. But, if he feels 100 percent, than winning another Slam is not out of the question. Bring it on.

17. Fabio Fognini
Last year, the 33-year-old won the ATP 1000 Monte Carlo, upsetting Nadal, Borna Coric, Zverev and Andre Rublev. The was his the best week ever. On clay, he can dig it and is so steady with a lot of crafty variety. However, during the rest of this year, he did almost nothing, ending tis years, with 6 wins and 10 losses. That is pretty lousy. On hardcourts, he is the not the same player and needs to be more consistent. In 2021, he must turn it around or he can lose quickly. It is his decision.

16. Pablo Carreno Busta
This was a very good year for the Spaniard, who can run all day, hit with a lot of spin, volley well and crack his returns. It is surpassing that he has four ATP Tour titles, three of which are on hardcourts. His career high was No. 10 in 2017 but injuries in 2018 and 2019 knocked him back down as low as No. 6x. His rise back into the top 20 shows the strength of his overall game and ability to plug on. Even though he is still in his prime at 29, you’ve got to wonder if younger and more talented players like Khachanov, Alex de Minaur and Felix Auger-Aliassime will pass him in the rankings.