Top 30s in 2018, Men, 20-16

Milos Raonic

No. 20: Marco Cecchinato
Where did the Italian come from, so suddenly? A few years ago, he looked OK,but this season, the 26-year-old rebelled and he was much more dependable —early on. He won Umag and Budapest, which was not a Slam, or in the ATP 1000s, but still, at least he stuck in there. More than that, at Roland Garros, he stunned David Goffin and Novak Djokovic to reach the semis before he lost to Dominic Thiem. That was impressive. But, after that, he barely won a match during the next five months. He must regroup ASAP or he will begin to drop hard down the rankings. Here comes Australia.

No. 19: Grigor Dimitrov
The Bulgarian looked so good in 2017. He concentrated, focused and hitting the lines. But, not so in 2018 as he slipped, pretty badly. Of course, he is still in the top 20 in 2018. Now, when he is on court against the great players, you can tell that inside he is nervous and almost immediately frustrated. Here and there, he won a few good matches, but it was rare, and he lost to all the elite competitors, like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, etc. Healso lost to the very good players like Marin Cilic, Kevin Anderson, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori. The only real accomplishments in 2018 were reaching the quarters at the Aussie Open, beating Nick Kyrgios before losing against Kyle Edmund. In February, Dimitrov made it into the final at Rotterdam, but Federer crushed him 6-2, 6-2. After that, he did nothing. At all. However, he is an excellent player when he is on. Still, he has to believe himself again. Will he do that in January? I have no idea, but it will be intoxicating to watch him.    

No. 18: Milos Raonic
The 27-year-old Canadian was OK, here and there, but he has said that he wants to win a Grand Slam. Most people do, and two years ago, he reached the 2016 Wimbledon final, and he was ready to rock. He upset Federer in the semis — a great win — but in the final against Andy Murray, the Brit took him down.Murray was very thoughtful, and he returned well, too, on grass, while Raonic couldn’t break him. Clearly, Raonic has improved a decent amount — especially his backhand — but also, he gets hurt a tremendous amount. Plus, while he has won eight small or medium titles, he still haven’t won an ATP 1000, even though he has lost three finals. In 2019, if he wants to win a gigantic event, he has to breathe, be solid and creative, and once in a while, have some fun.

No 17: Diego Schwartzman
The Argentine plays a ton, but a few years ago, he was so-so. Yet in 2018, he became more skillful on clay. He is still trying to figure out the hard courts as well as the grass, but he will rush the net here and there. His legs are strong and he can be very steady. Just like Cecchinato and Dimitrov, after Schwartzman reached the quarters at Roland Garros and lost Nadal in four sets — a pretty good match — he went down from June through November. Of course, he works a lot, but is he changing any type of tactics in 2019? I would hope so.

No. 16: Daniil Medvedev
Finally, here, among these five players, we have a 22-year-old. Russian Medvedev is getting better all the time. He is 6-foot-6, he can smoke the ball, and this year, he won three titles: Sydney, Winston-Salem and Tokyo. Obviously, they were not huge tournaments, but in Tokyo — a good event — he upset Raonic and Nishikori to grab it. To beat the Japanese in front of everyone in the final was very important. Plus, when he started the year, he was ranked No. 65, and he has to qualify at Sydney. He went all the way, taking seven matches in a row. Medvedev is obviously very healthy and pretty lethal. Without a doubt, he will push into the top-10 pretty soon.