Article Written By: Nicholas Djordjevic
With the 2013 ATP season in the books as arguably one of the most biased seasons in recent times, 2014 is looking to be loaded with potential up-and-coming stand outs. For the majority of the past decade, the top 10, and more often than not top 5 rankings, heavily dominated the circuit with big hitters like Federer, Nadal and Roddick (Ret. 2013) making quick work of first rounders and taking out tournament after tournament.
But is the elitist realm of the tennis world truly an impenetrable fortress of pure talent and non-stop success?
Jerzy Janowicz, a 23 year old Polish national, is paving the way for the more lowly ranked players to make a lot of noise in 2014. Last year, Janowicz became the 1st player from his country to finish in a Top 25 since Wojtek Fibak gained the No. 22 ranking in 1982. Janowicz had reached a career-high No. 14 on August 12 of 2013 and advanced to a QF or better 5 times during the season, which may be highlighted by reaching his 1st Grand Slam SF at Wimbledon by defeating former top ten seed, Radek Stepanek, No. 16 seed Nicolas Almagro as well as Jurgen Melzer and fellow Polish countryman Lukasz Kubot but ultimately faced defeat by the eventual champion Andy Murray in 4 sets. At the 2013 Davis Cup, the “Pole-verizer” helped Poland to the World Group play-off tie against Australia.
The biggest challenge for the young generation among the tour is retaining any form of mental stability they may claim when each Grand Slam roles around. Especially in the face of adversaries including Djokovic and Nadal. One must wonder just how do you form any sort of edge over a man like Rafael Nadal, who will no doubt be out to kill this year to continue his monster run from last year (10 titles, anyone?). After conquering the ranks once again and landing himself the title of world number one after a 7 month absence from the tour due to injury recovery, Nadal’s tenacious fury on court coupled with the mental stability of a Kung-Fu monk make for a seemingly unstoppable force.
The top 2 are surely to stand on their pedestal for most of, if not all, the 2014 season. Rafa is looking as good as ever and Novak has even altered his diet to benefit his performance, as well as appointing Boris Becker as his new coach. Regardless, the top ten will undergo considerable changes this year. The exclusion of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is seeming likely to come at one point or another this year. Potentially with a replacement in the form of 6’10 John Isner? Either way, guys like Bernard Tomic and Jerzy Janowicz will find their openings this year and shake up the rankings, leaving much of the competition to reconsider their preparations and readiness.