As the tennis season nears its close, fans are sitting back and taking stock of another fascinating year of the ATP Tour. With the men’s game focus now switching to the Melbourne and the first grand slam of 2015, let’s have a look at how the ATP Tour’s top players and how they’ve performed this season.
While this might not have been Novak Djokovic best season, the world number-one has continued his reign at the top of the rankings after racking up another six titles, including his second Wimbledon crown. After linking up with Boris Becker at the start of the year, things didn’t get off to the best start for the Serbian star at the Australian Open, only managing to reach the quarter-finals of a tournament he has won on four previous occasions. Making the final at the French Open will have been classed as a relative success considering he was facing serial-winner Rafael Nadal in the final, but the Serb was still disappointed to not have beaten the Spaniard at a time when he was far from his best. After losing to Andy Murray in the 2013 Wimbledon final, Djokovic looked a determined beast on his way to his second title at the All England Club, seeing off seven-time winner Roger Federer. A surprise semi-final defeat to Kei Nishikori at the US Open saw Djokovic end the grand slam season on something of a low-point, and the Serbian star will be looking to get back to winning ways at the start of 2015.
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Despite not adding to his 17 grand slam titles, 2014 has been one of Roger Federer’s most successful in a number of years. The Swiss star won five ATP Tour titles throughout the year, his best return of titles since 2012, and Federer proved a lot of people wrong who had claimed the 33-year-old was over the hill. After reaching the semi-final of the Australian Open for the fourth time in the row, Federer was disappointed to only make it to the fourth round of the French Open. A sensational run at Wimbledon had some betfair fans tipping Federer to win an eighth title at the All England Club, only for Novak Djokovic to end the veteran’s hopes in the final. Federer wrapped up his grand slam season by reaching the semi-final of the US Open before suffering a surprise defeat to eventual-winner Marin Cilic. But after his form in 2014, there won’t be as many people writing him off as they have done at times this year despite Federer’s advancing years.
As has been the case in recent years, injuries played a part in Rafael Nadal. While it’s been knee problems that have plagued Nadal for much of the past couple of years, it’s been a worrying back issue that has bothered the 28-year-old throughout 2014 and forced him to miss the end-of-season run-in, including withdrawing from his second US Open in two years. The season had started well for Nadal, reaching the final of the Australian Open before going on to win his ninth French Open title in ten years. After only making it to the second round and the first round in his previous two visits to Wimbledon, Nadal suffered another surprise early-exit at the All England club when he lost to Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round. With his back problems clearly bothering him, Nadal is set to undergo treatment ahead of the new season, and fans of the Spanish star will be desperate to see their hero back on the court injury-free as soon as possible.
Having spent much of his career in the shadow of compatriot Roger Federer, 2014 has been something of a stand-out year for Stanislas Wawrinka. On the back of making the semi-finals of the 2013 US Open, Wawrinka opened up this season with his biggest win to date by beating Rafael Nadal in the final of the Australian Open to clinch his first grand slam title. While the world number four was dumped out in the first round of the French Open, quarter-final appearances at Wimbledon and the US Open ensured this will always go down as the 29-year-old’s best ever season. The question will now be whether Wawrinka can follow this year up next season and continue to climb up the rankings, all the while establishing himself in the world’s top-three.
The surprise package of 2014 has undoubtedly been Kei Nishikori. The Japanese star has established himself as an exciting prospect last year but not many would have expected the 24-year-old to have achieved what he has this season. After opening the year with two impressive tournament victories, Nishikori shocked the world to reach the final of the US Open, beating Stanislas Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic on his way to the final at Flushing Meadows. While Nishikori lost out to Marin Cilic in the final, coming so close to winning his first grand slam was a huge confidence boost for the Japanese sensation, and he eventually went on to add another two titles to his collection soon after the US Open, to further cement his place in the world’s top-10. At just 24-years-old, Nishikori is just coming into his prime, and the likes of Djokovic, Nadal and Murray will be well aware that there is a new star in the sport and someone who will be definitely challenging for grand slams in 2015.
While it was always going to be tough for Andy Murray to replicate his incredible 2013 campaign this year, the Scotsman will have been rightly disappointed with how this season has gone by his extremely high standards. After reaching the quarter-final of the Australian Open, Murray had a decent run in the French Open on his way to the semi-finals only to lose out to yet again to eventual-winner Rafael Nadal. On the back of his memorable Wimbledon victory in 2013, Murray had started the tournament as one of the stand-out favourites only to exit at the quarter-final stage at the hands of Grigor Dimitrov in one of the surprises of the competition. The 2012 US Open champion failed to add a second title to his collection at Flushing Meadows in September, suffering his third grand slam quarter-final loss of the season to end a disappointing year of majors.