Top 20s in 2019: Men, No. 5-1

Daniil Medevdev

No. 5: Daniil Medvedev
The Russian rose gradually, and by the summer, he flew up. He won a lot, also winning some big titles such as Cincinnati and Shanghai. The 23-year-old was very close to downing Rafa Nadal in the US Open final. He was down two sets and it looked like he was ready to give up, but he did not, and he grabbed the third and the fourth sets. In the fifth set, though, at the very end, Nadal out-thought him, and the Spaniard won 6-4 in the fifth. Medvedev was really down because he really fought for hours, but he could not raise the trophy.By the time he reached the final, many people knew Medvedev, as he is incredibly powerful and hustles. He is very tall, he can sprint and get it back, even charging towards the net. When he is happy, he can do almost everything, such as crush his huge first serve and massive forehand. He is the youngest player in the Top 5. Assuming that he can go deep again, if he continues to believe in himself, then in 2020 in the major finals, he will be right there, knocking at the door. 

No. 4: Dominic Thiem

The stylish Austrian had a striking year. Yes, he hasn’t won a major yet, but the 26-year-old has improved a lot, not only with his heavy forehand and his backhand. Now, instead of spinning his shots he can slap them in the corners. For sure, he can become frustrated when he is missing inside the lines, and then he will yell or shake his head. He did manage to reach the final at 2019 Roland Garros, and he played decently, but he was unable to shake Nadal. Who can make a dent in Nadal in Paris on clay? Nadal has dominated on clay for many years, while Thiem has won more than a few titles on clay, but the Spaniard is better that he is. Hands down. However, if Thiem gets even a little bit better, then perhaps he can stun Nadal in Paris. But first, the one-hander has to improve his second serve and play at the net. He is not called a ‘young man’ anymore, as he has been playing on the ATP Tour for eight years. It is time to Seize the Day.

No. 3: Roger Federer
The 38-years-old Swiss keeps playing each year, hoping at the Slams the he will reach the final. In 2020, he will play almost perfectly and raise a major trophy. But the older you get, you will slow down, even slightly. Obviously Federer still runs fast, but when you have to run, side-to-side, he has slowed some in 20 years. He cannot control this. The same goes with the former No. 1 Jimmy Connors, who continued to play into his 40s. While reached the semis at the 1991 US Open, when he was 39-years-old, he couldn’t go any further. Next year, Federer will be 39, too. However, ‘Rog’ is a better player than Connors. On court, both of them loved hitting the ball, during matches or just practicing. Federer has won 20 Grand Slams. This year, he won Miami on the hard courts. A few months later, at the beloved Wimbledon in the semifinals, he overcame Nadal. Yet in the final, Federer couldn’t find a way to put down Novak Djokovic,and he lost, 13-12 in the fifth set. The Swiss was respectable, but he was very sad. In 2020, he will have another chance — maybe his last one — to win Wimbledon again. Maybe the Gods will pat him on the back and celebrate. 

No. 2: Novak Djokovic
The Serbian started fast, winning the Australian Open, by crushing Nadal in straight sets. He has won it so many times, nailing his famous two-handed backhand crosscourt, never missing. His forehand has improved a lot over the last 10 years, as have his steady return and his huge serve. The 32-years-old thought that he would stay No. 1 for a very long time, so focused, and at Wimbledon, in the final, he edged Federer. He could have lost, but he did not, he kept chugging. After that, though, he started losing here and there. But, he was resentful when he couldn’t win the title. He won the ATP Paris, but in the ATP Finals, the errors came in, and he couldn’t return like he normally does. Djokovic has all the shots, and at the 2020 Australian Open, he will be the favorite, as he has won it seven times. For him, it is all about breathing.

No. 1: Rafael Nadal
The Spaniard had an incredible year, starting the year when he was O.K., but not fantastic. During the first four months, he was little bit shaky, not winning the tournaments and he would hit the balls short, here and there. But in May, he began to leap on the ball, hitting deeper, harder and consistently. He was ready to take them down. And the 33-year-old did, winning Rome, Roland Garros, Montreal, the US Open and Davis Cup. 
He has 19 Grand Slams now, which is phenomenal, given that his legs are almost broken. This year, and in 2020, he has decided to play a little bit less, because he can get hurt again, and then, he will have to start all over again. He doesn’t want to do that. In the 2019 US Open final, he knew that he would stay on court for hours versus Medvedev, win or lose. He would just continue to push until the sun goes down. Somehow, he won it in the fifth set. He looked tired — they both did — but when he had a chance to snag it, he did. At the 2020, Nadal will win more than a few titles, including at least one Grand Slam title. And then, he will have 20 Slams, one of the best players, ever. Tied with Federer in 2020? When they retire, the fans will talk for many years about who was better. We just have to wait about the discussion, until they wave goodbye and retire. Then, there will be some fine new books written and proclaiming the GOAT.