top 32 men: No. 10-6

Hubert Hurkacz
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

10 Taylor Fritz

He had an odd year,  beating some terrific players, and then, he would lose in the third sets, or even the fifth sets at the Slams. The American did win an ATP 1000 in 2022, when he won Indian Wells, but this year, he only won two at the tournament, in Delray Beach, and Atlanta. That was good, but it wasn’t among the top 20 players. Yes, he can bash his forehand and his backhand, and he can hit it down the line, and also go, crosscourt, yet the excellent players can be more consistent. Three of them beat Fritz on the hardcourts in March and April with Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz. Yes, Fritz can return pretty good, and when he is confident, he can make an attempt to hit it very deep. The think is, though, is he is not terrific at the net, and his backhand could be so-so. At the US Open, the No. 1 Novak Djokovic crushed him, in three quick, sets. He must have been seriously disappointed, and in the fall, he did very little. He is smart, and he reads during the points, but next year, if he wants to go super deep, at the Slams, he has to improve his volley, his second serve, and at the net.

9 Hubert Hurkacz

At what point do you know when eventually, he will return much better, and also at the net, and then, he will have a solid shot to win a Slam? Hmmm. He had a decent year, when he won Marseille, France,  early, and he didn’t do that much until the fall, when the tall man won an ATP 1000 in Shanghai, China, beating Andrey Rublev in the final. Then, he reached the final in Basel, Switzerland, before he lost, but that was pretty solid. He is a powerful person, and he can smash his forehand and his backhand, plus he can be very fit and, versatile. He also can defend it, but he can also  trip it up. He did win the 2021 Miami, so he could be right there to win a Slam, for the first time, but then he has to be more physical, at the net.. If he does it, it is possible that the Polish can do it for the first time. Yes for me, that will be surprising.

8 Holger Rune

He is still pretty young, and he is rising, each year. He is only 20-years- old, so he has to understand exactly what he has to do, when he returns, and mix it up. He is fast, running, and he can move forward, and trust it around. On the clay, the Danish man began to swell right there, in Monte Carlo, upsetting Daniil Medvedev  and Jannik Sinner before he lost against Andrey Rublev. That was a great move. Then he won Munich, Germany,  and then in Rome, he stunned Djokovic in three sets, and in the final,  he lost against Daniil Medvedev. After that, he was much more concordant, and at Wimbledon, when he looked more stable, he reached in the quarters when he finally lost against Alcaraz. Rune’s  forehand was powerful, his backhand was somewhat solid, and he can throw it all around the box. Many players can start to feel very tired, but he will try hard, week after week. At the ATP Finals, and while he lost both matches, he was right there. He did  lose two matches against Djokovic and Sinner, but it was darn, close. Next year, if he continues to attack, earlier, with his backhand, and also to add more different shots, then for sure, he will go into the top five, and maybe, he might win a  f Slam in 2024. He is that good.  

7 Alexander Zverev

Will the German finally win a Grand Slam, next year? He has come close, a few times, but he was unable to hit a monstrous shot, into the corners. Yes, he can sit there, rally to rally, and he can swing hard, or he can just wait until he has a genuine chance to touch it on the lines. Perhaps when he started, he was immature, and he has said some obnoxious things, but now, he is a little bit more mature, so maybe next year, he can be much smarter. This year, almost all the top five guys beat Zverev, with  Djokovic, Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev. Is that enough? The good thing is that he did knock down Sinner and also, Andrey Rublev, but the mediocre is that when he is playing against the top ruler, he doesn’t really like at the net, and with his second serve, too. He should improve it, or he will not win a Slam in 2024. As he said: “I’m not going to change and get the emotions out of my game. It’s important to have emotions in sport. If you don’t have emotions, it’s like you don’t really care. Because if you care about something, you’re always going to be emotional. Doesn’t matter if it’s sports or personal life.”

6 Stefanos Tsitsipas

He started so well in January, reaching into the final at the Aussie Open, as he was hammering the ball, with a lot of spin, especially with his dry one-handed backhand. However,  Djokovic was more steady, especially with his return and his first serve. He was pretty packed, but not enough. On the clay, he was DARN decent, yet he could not break it out, when Alcaraz beat him twice, in Barcelona and Roland Garros. After that, he did a few very good matches, but then he began to struggle. He did have some fine matches, such as in Los Cabos, Mexico, and also, right at the end, he reached the semis in the ATP 1000 Paris, when he beat  Zverev, before he lost against Grigor Dimitrov. Then he retired at the ATP Finals in Italy. He was mentally, hurt. Tsitsipas thinks that if he can remedy with his forehand, more flat, and twist his volley, then he will have another chance to win a Slam. He really wants to do it.