We had an unpredictable, exciting and crazy year in Men’s Tennis in 2017. Full of surprises, new faces rising to the top, old faces reclaiming the pinnacle.
It was a spectacular year, but due to the small difference in between the top players and the mediocre ones.
A year plagued by injuries and inconsistency from most of the top figures.
The only constant dominant players were the great champions, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer. They split the Grand Slams and were all the time there for the title during the big ones. Both were coming from serious injuries, Rafa from a wrist surgery, Roger from the knee issue that forced him not play after Wimbledon 2016.
The Swiss Maestro started the year as a storm and continued that way, winning most of the tournaments he entered. But he struggled with severe back pain at the end of the year and this could be seen during the World Tour Finals, even if the 19-time Slam champion claims those problems are left behind after US Open.
Federer proved great improvement, making his backhand a lethal attacking weapon and his serve a crushing force. But his serve was dented when back issues occurred. That’s why it will be very hard only to defend the 2017’s points. He played a reduced schedule and most probably will continue that next year.
The World Number 1 has a hard mission for 2018. His knee, his old nemesis, made him suffer a lot at the end of the year. He had a fantastic Australian Open, but struggled for form until the clay season. Let’s not forget he failed to win a title until the red dirt.
Nadal has a huge heart and a warrior fighting spirit and that made him reclaim the top spot. He also played a full schedule, which gave him an advantage in front of Roger. But not without a cost. The Spaniard concluded the year in one leg and makes his conquest of retaining the number 1 spot a nearly impossible one. Especially that the youngsters start to rise and the big champions are returning after injuries: Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka, Nishikori and other top ones like Raonic and Berdych.
The great surprise was David Goffin. The thin Belgian proved to be a redoubtable fighter. He finally found a way to take advantage of his numerous qualities, as his lack of forced pulled him back for years.
Goffin managed to showcase his great speed and shot-making accuracy, as he is an all around player. He took charge of his game and stepped in more in the field, taking more risks. His mental grew as well.
David managed to beat World number 1 and 2, Rafa and Roger, in the same tournament and finished the year on a high note, as he overclassed two top players in the Davis Cup, Pouille (18) and Tsonga (15).
I believe he can stay in the top 10 in 2018, but there is a big question mark regarding his health, as his left knee had a strap on it in the last months of the year.
Sascha Zverev is another asset of 2017. The 20 years old managed to beat Djokovic and Federer in the Finals, to claim 2 Masters and took home 5 titles, second just to Federer (7) and Nadal (6).
He proved a big deal of maturity for his age, as his commitment in training proved to be decisive for his growth.
The end of the year was marked by disappointing performances, caused by his lack of patience or lacunes in regards the mental strength. He admitted of choking after the World Tour Finals.
Regardless, the German is incredibly young and has all the time to grow even more. He will need more body muscles and a better attacking game. He needs to improve his second serve and his mental power. He has the fighting spirit and the discipline to work hard, so I see him staying in the top 10.
Juan Martin del Potro played some inspired Tennis now and then, but was too inconsistent and played a short schedule. He finished the year in big pain, suffering from back, legs and wrist sourness.
Grigor Dimitrov showed inconsistency, as he had long periods in which was losing in the first round or so. He didn’t manage to win in front of the elite, even though he was close several times.
The same story with Dominic Thiem, as the Austrian proved that his A game is on clay, but has a lot to work on the hard courts. His game also has a lot of up and down performances. His serve is still too weak for this level.
I’m expecting Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka and Nishikori to return up there. I’m also hoping that the youngsters will be able to push harder this year and go further in the big tournaments. Only time will tell…