The 2017 tennis season has come to a close and it is safe to say that it has been one of the most unpredictable tennis seasons ever. Firstly, none of the 2016 top-5 managed to stay inside this years top-5 for the first time in tennis history. We have seen the resurgence of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer after they seemed to be on the decline. Unexpected Masters titles were also won by Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov and Jack Sock. Who could have predicted this twelve months ago?
Predicting the future in sport is an extremely difficult task and this was demonstrated beautifully by L’Equipe in 2013. They were brave enough to say who they thought would end 2018 in the top 10. Their list has not quite gone to plan so far:
- Grigor Dimitrov
- Benoit Paire
- Andy Murray
- Milos Raonic
- Novak Djokovic
- Kei Nishikori
- Bernard Tomic
- Ernests Gulbis
- Jerzy Janowicz
- Jack Sock
Six of those players are not even in the top 20 of the world now, whereas three are not even inside the top 100. Luckily, these predictions are for the end of 2018 so they just need Janowicz, Tomic, and Gulbis to make tremendous strides in their respective careers.
We are going through a transitions stage at the moment on the ATP World Tour and big changes have occurred in the rankings already. What will the top-10 look like at the end of the 2022 tennis season? It is an impossible job, but I am going to take it on. Here is my predicted top-10 in five years time.
1. Denis Shapovalov (18)
This year has been a breakthrough for the young Canadian. He became the youngest player in history to feature in a Masters semifinal after securing wins over Juan Martin del Potro and Nadal in front of his home crowd. The 18-year-old also set the US Open alight by making it through to the fourth round in only his second main draw appearance at a Grand Slam.
Denis Shapovalov ended this season ranked #51 which, coincidentally, is the exact same year-end ranking that Rafael Nadal held when he was the same age. In five years time, Shapovalov will have learned to manage his explosive game which can be deadly on all surfaces. He has already shown champion qualities at his young age and this makes me think he will be #1 in five years time.
2. Alexander Zverev (20)
In 2017, Alexander Zverev cemented his place at the top of the game. By winning Masters titles in Rome and Montreal, the German ended this year at #4 in the world – the youngest player since Novak Djokovic in 2007 to finish in the top-4. Zverev has shown he is a big match player as he has defeated seven top-10 players this year including wins over Djokovic and Federer.
It is even more remarkable to think that the majority of his points have been earned on the tour and not in the Grand Slams, where he has under performed. In five years time his body will be much stronger and able to last two weeks of best-of-five tennis. Alexander Zverev’s game works fantastically on all surfaces so he will be a major threat wherever he goes in 2022.
3. Dominic Thiem (24)
Dominic Thiem is arguably the second best clay court player in the world right now behind Rafael Nadal. This was evident in his stellar form on the clay where he reached the semifinals of Roland Garros and Rome as well as the final in Madrid. He was also the only man to defeat Nadal on the dirt this year so he has some serious pedigree on this surface.
The Austrian’s form on other surfaces is what has let him down this year yet he is still at #5 in the world currently. Thiem will always be a phenomenal clay court player and by the time he is 29-years-old, his level on hard and grass will have improved for sure. Maybe a French Open title awaits for Dominic Thiem.
4. Milos Raonic (26)
Many will be surprised to see the big serving Canadian so high up on this list after our recent memories of him. 2017 has been a year littered with injuries for Milos Raonic and that is why his current ranking is down at #24, but let us not forget what he is capable of. He is a Wimbledon finalist as well as a former world #3 and he has come back from injury before. 2015 was another year full of injuries but then he enjoyed his best season the very next year.
Milos Raonic’s attacking game is not the most taxing on the body so this will be beneficial for him in the long term. When the season ends in 2022, Raonic will only be 31-years-old which is young in tennis nowadays. The Canadian is lethal on fast surfaces and he will still be at the top of the game in five years time.
5. Nick Kyrgios (22)
Nick Kyrgios is one of the hottest talents in tennis right now and he is amazing to watch. This year saw him reach a first Masters final in Cincinnati and he notched up some big wins over Djokovic and Nadal – proving to us that he is a big match player.
The unpredictable Australian is probably the most talented player on this list and he has the capability to beat anyone if he puts his mind to it. For this reason, I think that on his day he will be unbeatable even if he is #5 in the world. However, I see him being very on and off and that is why he will be ranked at this position. Nick Kyrgios will be a very dangerous player in five years time.
6. Grigor Dimitrov (26)
The Bulgarian superstar enjoyed a career-best season this year and finished it #3 in the world. Grigor Dimitrov won four titles in 2017 including the Cincinnati Masters and the ATP Finals in London. The stylish player also made the semifinals of the Australian Open only to lose in an epic five-setter to Nadal. Dimitrov has always shown promise and he is finally making the most of his extraordinary talent.
In 2022, the Bulgarian will be 31-years-old and still very much at the peak of his powers. He is super athlete who seems to be made of elastic so I cannot see injury impacting him. I expect him to feature in the top-10 for many more years and be a major contender for the biggest prizes in the sport.
7. Borna Coric (21)
The promising Croatian has been around for years now yet he is only 21. Borna Coric first came to our attention as a 17-year-old when he defeated Rafael Nadal in Basel. Since then he has defeated Nadal once more as well as defeating Andy Murray twice. This year, Borna Coric won his very first title in Marrakesh. His hard work has seen him finish the year inside the top-50 for the second straight time.
One of Coric’s biggest strengths is his attitude on and off the court. In a match he never gives up and keeps the same intensity no matter what the score is; off the court he works so hard to make improvements that will get him closer to his goals. It is because of this mentality that I think Coric will be a top-10 player five years from now.
8. Andrey Rublev (20)
2017 has been a breakthrough year for the exciting Russian which has seen him claim his first title in Umag as a lucky loser. On top of this, he became the very first ‘Next Gen’ player to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal. Andrey Rublev impressed in New York and defeated Dimitrov and David Goffin en route to the last eight. The 20-year-old posses a powerful game which can trouble anyone.
In most encounters, the match is in Rublev’s hands because he takes so many risks. I see him capable of beating anyone on his day, nevertheless, I see him struggling to win big matches when he is not playing his best. If he keeps improving his weaknesses, Andrey Rublev is capable of doing great things in tennis.
9. David Goffin (26)
The talented Belgian is playing the best tennis of his career so far and he has many more stellar years ahead of him. A valiant run to the Australian Open quarterfinals ignited his year and he went on to win back-to-back titles in the Asian swing. He also joined a small group of players who have defeated Federer and Nadal at the same tournament on his way to the final of the ATP Finals. David Goffin has also been a rock for his nation in the Davis Cup and his two singles wins were not enough for them to defeat France in the final.
At the end of the 2022 tennis season, Goffin will be 31-years-old which is still young for the modern day tennis player. His slight frame will also help him stay injury free which will be a massive boost for him in the long term. This year, David Goffin demonstrated to us that he deserves to be in the top-10 and he will keep showing us his brilliance for years to come.
10. Pablo Carreno Busta (26)
The Spaniard made huge strides this year as he reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and the semifinals of the US Open. He ended 2017 at #10 but he could have been higher had he not been injured during Wimbledon. The clay court specialist also claimed a third career title this year in Estoril and he looks hungry to add to the trophy cabinet. Pablo Carreno Busta has shown massive improvements in his game and the scary thing is it seems he can improve a whole lot more.
At 31-years-old we will still see the Spaniard continue to make his mark on the ATP World Tour in 2022. He is always a threat on clay courts but he has arguably produced his best tennis on the hard courts due to his improvements over the past twelve months. 2017 has seen Pablo Carreno Busta make his top-10 debut, and in 2022 he should still be at the top of the game.
Predicted 2022 ATP Top-10
- Denis Shapovalov
- Alexander Zverev
- Dominic Thiem
- Milos Raonic
- Nick Kyrgios
- Grigor Dimitrov
- Borna Coric
- Andrey Rublev
- David Goffin
- Pablo Carreno Busta
It will be interesting to see how successful my predictions are in five years time. The rankings next year could be so different and it goes to show that tennis is such an unpredictable sport.