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Predicting the ATP top 10 rankings at the end of 2019

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 21 Nov 2018
  • How will the ATP top 10 look like at the end of 2019?
  • I have a go at predicting the year-end top 10 for next season
Novak Djokovic (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s the end of the season and you know what that means: questionable predictions from journalists! Read on below as I dust off the crystal ball and have a go at picking the year-end top 10 for 2019….

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1. Novak Djokovic

I predicted Novak Djokovic to finish No. 1 this season when I did this at the end of 2017, and I don’t see any way (barring injury of course) that the Serbian doesn’t finish 2019 as the World No. 1. Despite two defeats in finals to young guns Alexander Zverev and Karen Khachanov to end 2018, Djokovic was the clear undisputed best player on tour since July, and it’s another challenge altogether to beat him in a Grand Slam over best-of-five sets. If he maintains his current level and even builds on it, I’m backing Djokovic to claim at least another two majors and continue his dominance at the top of the tennis mountain.

2. Alexander Zverev

It’s time for the ‘Big Four’ stranglehold on the top two ranking positions to be broken, and Alexander Zverev is the man to do it. I’ve been very critical of Zverev’s inability to master the slams so far in his young career, but the fact remains that he’s still only 21 years of age, and with men’s tennis as physical as it is these days, it was always going to take some time. Winning the ATP Finals doesn’t automatically guarantee success the next season (just ask Grigor Dimitrov), but Zverev has all the tools to achieve major glory - it’s just a matter of him putting it all together, and with Ivan Lendl in his camp, he’s well-positioned to take the next step in his career in 2019.

3. Rafael Nadal

It’s always hard to pin-point exactly where Rafael Nadal will end up given he’s always dealing with injuries, especially on hardcourts. The Spaniard retired or withdrew from all but one of his hardcourt events in 2018, but he still managed to hold on to the No. 1 ranking until the last couple of weeks of the season thanks to his exploits on clay. Nadal is set to be challenged more in the dirt next year with Djokovic back and Dominic Thiem’s continued rise, but he should still win enough to keep himself in the top four.

4. Juan Martin del Potro

It’s so unfortunate that Juan Martin del Potro suffered a fractured kneecap in Shanghai, because the Argentine was set to finish his best season since 2009 at No. 3 in the world. Del Potro, up until that point, was able to play an injury-free season, and he proved that when his body allows him, he’s a consistent top four player and one of the few men that can challenge the hierarchy of the ‘Big Four’ at Grand Slams. Again, it’s impossible to predict injuries, but if del Potro can remain healthy, I think he can hover around the top of the rankings and put himself into positions to contend for all of the big trophies.

5. Dominic Thiem

The question with Dominic Thiem is whether he will be able to translate his pristine clay-court form over to other surfaces. Despite another tough end to the season, there were signs Thiem was ready to do that at stages in 2018, including reaching the U.S. Open quarter-finals and winning the indoor title in St. Petersburg. Thiem will definitely sweep some ATP 250 and 500 clay-court titles and will most likely again challenge for Masters 1000s and the French Open, so if he can improve his results slightly on hardcourts and grass, the Austrian should be able to accumulate enough points to knock on the door of the top four.

6. Roger Federer

The legendary Roger Federer will be 38 next year, and no matter how great you are, it’s only natural that you decline with time. Federer did an excellent job in 2018 of maintaining a top three ranking, winning his 20th major and even returning to No. 1 for a brief period. It would be an extraordinary achievement if Federer managed to win another slam in 2019, and with Djokovic, Zverev and other young stars starting to take their game to the next level, it’s only going to get harder. With Federer also likely to skip the clay season again, he will struggle to win enough points to stay in the top four.

7. Borna Coric

For me, Borna Coric is the closest player we’ve got to a young Novak Djokovic. He’s equipped with incredible defence and has improved his offensive game significantly throughout 2018, adding another layer of aggression to his compact style. The 22-year-old was one of the big movers of 2018 and I think Coric is ready for another jump into the top 10 in 2019. The Croatian can also play well on all surfaces and has beaten all of the ‘Big Four’ apart from Djokovic.

8. Andy Murray

I was very skeptical of Andy Murray’s ability to return in 2018, and unfortunately I was proven right at the very start of the year. Hip problems just don’t go away, and eventually Murray bit the bullet and underwent surgery. It also takes a long time to rehabilitate your body after hip surgery, so an immediate bounce back for Murray was always going to be unlikely this year. But, after ending his season in September and putting himself through a vigorous training regime in a bid to regain full fitness, I think we could see Murray make an impact in 2019. We might have to wait until midway through the year, but if the Scot is healthy, he’s far too good a player not to make a late dash back towards the top 10.

9. Kei Nishikori

If Kei Nishikori remains injury-free, he is consistent enough to remain in the top 10. The main issue with the Japanese is that he seems to have stagnated when it comes to his ability to beat the best players in the biggest tournaments, while his sub-par serve means he is always fighting harder to hold than the rest of his top 10 contemporaries. Without a title for almost three years now, Nishikori seems destined to stay around the lower echelons of the top 10.

10. Daniil Medvedev

I’ll throw in Daniil Medvedev as a pick from left field to round out my top 10. I’ve always thought the Russian was one of the more underrated members of the young brigade coming through, and if Medvedev can build on his tremendous finish to 2018, it’s not out of the question that he can push towards the top 10 in 2019. However, my main concern with Medvedev is that he still struggles significantly on clay with his predominantly flat game, so he will have work around that if he wants to break into the game’s elite.

Next in line:

Karen Khachanov
Stan Wawrinka
Denis Shapovalov
Stefanos Tsitsipas

Notable omissions:

Kevin Anderson
Marin Cilic
John Isner
Grigor Dimitrov

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Predicting the ATP top 10 rankings at the end of 2019

It’s the end of the season and you know what that means: questionable predictions from journalists! Read on below as I dust off the crystal ball and have a go at picking the year-end top 10 for 2019….

Read more »

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