Sunday, December 25, 2016

2017 ATP Predictions

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

Happy Christmas, Happy New year, and we here at BACKSPIN hope you aren't too saddened by the tennis break. Here we'll be having a little look at next year.S o an alphabetical look into this BACKSPINNER'S ATP predictions for next year, rankings rise, then some more names to think about. And then some out there predictions, too.

First, though, massive call out to Petra Kvitova to get well soon, and to come back stronger than ever. We're just grateful it was not a premeditated attack on the tennis star and that she will be back. It is unfortunate that it would be on the left hand. She and Madison Keys (wrist surgery) will both miss time. Juan Martin del Potro will be out in Australia, as well, to name just one more of many.

So raise a glass to absent friends!

I have long said Petra will retire with five Wimbledon titles. At this time I do not recant that prediction. But this saddens me. A genuinely lovely player and person, her cries of "Podj!" Will be missed greatly.

Right, let's check out the Top Ten.

...Cilic is really not that good. He is a top twenty player at best. He made his usual quarterfinal at Wimbledon but did not pass the third round at any other slam. He won just two titles, though they were big ones. He was pretty poor for large swathes of the year. He is not the sixth best player in the world. But he has so few points to defend and he really doesn't have to do much. He'll stick around, have four decent results, lose a shocking amount of matches and choke in a Wimbledon quarterfinal.

His ceiling is five. His floor is 15.
...Djokovic won another slam, again in Melbourne, finally got his French Open title and then made the final in New York. It was the first of Wawrinka's slam wins one saw coming. It was also during that U.S. Open that all of his opponents mysteriously withdrew injured. Expect another slam, but also expect him to go downhill. He has so many points to defend and his body, and also the motivation, isn't there as much as it has been in the past. Still, look for him to take back control of the Murray rivalry. If he can get healthy that's half the battle. Although the losses to the likes of Agut and Querrey will become more common. Worst of all was his lack of interest in that Querrey match. If he does hit his floor it is hard to see which three men rise above him.

His ceiling is one. His floor is four.
...This one is hard to call. Really hard. We all know how good he can be and he made two semi-finals last year at slam level. He has zero points to defend through most of the year and, if he was minded to, he could make a run at the top spot. It is easy to compare him to Andre Agassi. He will win three or four titles and climb back into the top ten. And it is strange that he has outlasted Rafa's career. Isn't tennis a funny thing? If he can keep his serve good he should be fine. If it starts to drop he could be in trouble.

His ceiling is one. His floor is eight.
...Now, this is not a commentary on his personality, which needs work. This is about his talent, which is the most exciting in the top fifty. And you can't deny it. He makes Kvitova look like a documentary on watching people watch paint dry. And she can do this.

Petra Kvitova's 222 Winners (Wimbledon 2011) by ShiftyFella

A solid year, going 3-0 in finals and doing well at Miami, Kyrgios looked really good and unnaturally calm for being just 21 years old. He does need a big slam result, like a final. He has room to make up points in the slams and at the Masters level. If he can keep the crazy reigned in he will do well.

His ceiling is four. His floor is 16.
...Why not a hunch, a gamble? He has been a consistent presence, a consistent member of the top ten the last year and he could be building up into a huge year. He managed to make the finals of Monte Carlo. He improved to 15-10 in finals, going 2-1 in 2016, and had career best results at two slams. He made his second ever slam semi-final and first for eight years. He showed tactical nous and it will continue. He has lost none of his charm but gained a bucket load of experience and confidence. Still, predicting Monfils is notoriously difficult. Repeating last year's effort of 1-1 in slam quarterfinals is more than achievable.

His ceiling is five. His floor is twelve.
...Three slam finals, a defense of his Gold medal and a losing record to Djokovic. That was Murray's year. Oh, and a massive win streak. He has it all going on. And he does deserve to be the world number one. But he has to prove it by going out and winning the Australian Open. If he loses a sixth final that might break his career. Either way, expect him to slowly fade from the end of 2017. He will win another slam but won't make three finals. Still, can you see him falling to three, let alone four? Only if both Fed and the Djoker turn it on.

His ceiling is one. His floor is three.
...He finished at five but was utterly invisibly for most of the year. He won't collapse, but he does not look likely to move up, either. A Bronze, a slam semi-final and two hardcourt Masters finals were great building blocks, but he can do better. Going 1-4 in finals is not an enviable mark at all. A quarterfinal in Australia followed by two fourth round runs is fine. The health has to improve and so does the firepower. He is not a future number one, but a solid top three mainstay is achievable.

His ceiling is two. His floor is seven.
...How is he world number three? He has been brilliant when he could actually, you know, get on the court. That serve and forehand, combined with his ice-cool demeanor, make him a great outside bet to rise to the pedestal. A slam semi and final were fantastic, particularly his run in Australia. But to go 1-3 in finals is poor. He reached the quarters or better at every Masters but two. He will find it hard to increase his points. But if he can find his health, this BACKSPINNER could see his rise to the top. Isn't it about time someone new properly announced themselves?

His ceiling is one. His floor is five.
...He played so much this last year he ran out of gas towards the end. He didn't expect to win so much, but never altered his schedule. It’s the mark of an inexperienced player. His run to the French semi-finals, even with Djokovic thrashing him, was magical. His one-handed backhand and vicious kick serve are both awesome weapons. His movement is superb, though, like Radwanska, the blonde hair is a mistake. In 2018 he will have a big year, but not quite yet. Only Murray and Nole won more titles. He went 4-2 in finals this year and overall is 7-3. There is room for improvement in the Masters and at the slams. The ace in his hole is that if he merely achieves his seeding at each slam and Masters he will have a big jump in the rankings. In a year and a half a top two position is feasible but, like Halep, just wait a year.

His ceiling is five. His floor is eight.
...From January 2014 to September of this year he won eleven finals in a row. Zverev snapped the streak in St. Petersburg. Stan always makes the semi-finals of a slam when he is defending champion. So pencil him in for the U.S. Open semi-finals again. He will be able to make up points in Melbourne and at Wimbledon. He also has points available to him at the Masters. Every year we expect a drop. It won't happen in 2017. His 4-1 mark in finals is superb. Look for him to win Chennai again early next year. It'll be another confusing and surprisingly good year from the Swiss.

His ceiling is two. His floor is five.

Kuznetsov was 134th ranked in 2013. #92 the next and then #79. Now he is #46 but has been as high as #39. For a journeyman to go 29-21 is pretty mind-blowing, too. Kuznetsov just won matches all over the place. He even made a run to the fourth round in the Australian Open. No reason to think he'll stop.

Djokovic in four twice, Berdych in five and Tomic at Wimbledon. Those were Roberto Bautista Agut's four slam losses. He still managed a 10-4 mark, which is pretty good. He may struggle to defend some of his points, but he can repeat the 2-2 mark in finals he had this year. Never flashy, but always there. Keep your eyes out for him.

Del Potro and Wawrinka are the only two players who have consistently challenged the top four. Fat Dave [Nalbandian] never had the fitness or longevity. Cilic and Soderling never managed it. Gonzalez, Roddick and even Ferrer have all failed to disrupt them. Forget about Davydenko and Berdman. Sure some of those players have had Murray's number, but only Delpo and Wawrinka have ever truly put fear into their hearts. So keep watching the Argentine. It may be his swansong.

Zverev is about to have the year Thiem just did. Honestly if you've watched much tennis recently this one will be obvious. The backhand belongs in an art gallery.

That belongs in a museum

It will one day be the best backhand on the tour. He can just do anything with it. It's like a fluid version of Nalbandian's. Also, his hair. It's interesting. It stands out.

1) Nadal retires. Eventually I shall be correct with this one. Other retirement candidates include fellow Spaniards Ferrer, Verdasco and Robredo. Youzhny could also go.
2) Two of the men's singles slam winners are from Switzerland. Wawrinka completes his Career Slam.
3) A player born after 1990 wins a slam. It might be the first time. How old is Del Potro? 28. So for the first time a player born in the 1990's wins a slam.
4) Under pressure from fans, players and the powers that be the ATP shortens the season. At last.
5) Zverev becomes the first German to make the top ten since Haas. Haas wins a match.
6) Watch out for the Australian Davis Cup team. At least a semi-final awaits, and more if they can get their head right.
7) France finishes the year atop the doubles rankings. Herbert/Mahut take another slam and make two finals.
8) Nobody makes it to all four semi-finals.
9) A kid born in this century wins two matches.
10) Looking at the city each slam winner was born in, none will be more than three hours flight away from any other city. All will be from Europe.

That's it, folks. Thanks all and don't forget to have a very Happy New Year.

Oh, and guess who's back...

Read more!


Blogger Diane said...

I like the floor/ceiling concept, and these seem spot-on.

I think Ferrer will retire (and not a moment too soon for me), maybe Robredo, though I wish he could have done even more with his comeback.

I also think Dimitrov will get out of his Mugu-like funk. Just a guess. No one mentions it, but everything fell apart for him when he and Maria broke up.

Mon Jan 02, 12:51:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Galileo said...

Thnaks Diane! Sorry I took a while to respond. Well I agree with Ferrer. It's really time for him to go. He suffers from the Gilles Simon complex- a bit dull. I liked Robredo's 2013 FO, maybe the run of the decade so far. Given that Dokic had her run in 09, TOdd might even agree with me :)

Youre so correct with Dimitrov. I saw him live at Wimbledon one year, in a five setter on court two. And Maria was in his box. The whole crowd stopped watching the match and decided to wave at her. Including me im a bit ashamed to admit aha.

Brisbane is just the start. Wish id made the call for him to make a slam final. Could definitely happen.

Sun Jan 08, 05:32:00 PM EST  

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