The 2013 tennis season has been thrilling up to this point.
The men's field has seen a slight power-shift in the last couple months, with Andy Murray withdrawing from the French Open, Rafael Nadal dominating the sport and Roger Federer winning just one title (an ATP250 at that) all year.
Some other lesser-ranked players have also shown signs of brilliance or have faded completely.
As the Wimbledon Championships approach, it is imperative that we form a power ranking list of the top players at the moment.
This list is largely based on recent performance but also occasionally considers how players competed in events this year compared to last year.
Since the competition is so tough and close in some areas, there are three ties on the list.
ATP Ranking: 38
Why He's Here: After a few years of bowing out early in tournaments, he has begun to find his focus and some momentum on the tour. He uses his brute strength effectively and is concentrating more of his life on practice and having better performances.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: It is tough to say that a man who has never done too well at any particular Major will go far (meaning to the second week), but there is much hope for Gulbis. I predict he will reach the third or fourth round, assuming his first-round matchup is not against the likes of a Top-10 player.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: He should look to being consistent all year, even if he is only winning a match or two in each tournament. His main goal should be to get his ranking high enough to be seeded for the U.S. Open.
ATP Ranking: 29
Why He's Here: He is here because he demonstrated at the French Open that his age and previous lack of success do not count him out. He reached the quarterfinals there and came back from two-sets-to-love down a multitude of times. Robredo still has the quickness and scrappy play that can keep him in the topic of conversation—though not likely for Wimbledon.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: His Wimbledon performance will probably be quite poor. He should be happy to reach the third round, as grass is definitely not his best surface.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: The Spaniard could try to stay in the Top 32 so that his U.S. Open chances could be potentially improved. Other than that, it does seem that his career is sadly coming to a close in the next couple of years.
ATP Ranking: 15
Why He's Here: It's hard to tell whether being listed as the 18th best player in the world is a good or bad thing for Milos Raonic. His performance in 2013 has been sub-par, but much of his failures should be attributed to his lack of familiarity with clay (or slow hard) courts. So, he is still good enough to beat any top player, but he needs to find a rhythm going forward.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: Well, I personally think he will turn out to be a true grass-court player as his career progresses. He unfortunately lost in the second round for the past two years at SW19 and he has not been in form. Still, I am going to say that he will reach the fourth round just based on the fact that his serve may prove to be tricky to return on grass.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: He needs to go deeper in Majors in order to feel some sense of accomplishment and a stream of confidence. Raonic is representing Canada single-handedly at the moment, but he needs to achieve some results in the next two Slams or else his ranking will prove to be undeserved.
ATP Ranking: 28
Why He's Here: The Russian has been playing sublime tennis in the latter stages of his career. He has proven to be a threat on red clay and on grass (at least so far in Halle). He has continually challenged the top players and has shown that his style of play has stood the test of time.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: This may be a bold prediction, but I'm going to put Youzhny through to the third or fourth round. A result like this is easy enough for some of the top players, but this man has been fighting hard to get a few good wins. His adept backhand slice and court sense will help him at the All England Club.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: Youzhny should try to get into the Top 20 briefly because he has a great chance to do so. He should not feel discouraged with a few early exits, though, since he has done better than expected this season.
ATP Ranking: 23 and 21 (respectively)
Why They're Here: Kevin Anderson and John Isner, who are actually pretty similar players in styles of play, have been all over the place this year. They are very inconsistent and are not beating top players frequently by any means. They are also losing to many players who they should be beating with ease due to the nature of their serves and forehands.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: One of these men will lose in the third round while the other will lose before that stage. These are two sub-par performances, but they haven't done anything to prove that they will be a force next week.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: The best they can do is to go far in the summer and fall ATP1000 tournaments. Something tells me Isner will perform well at the U.S. Open as well, but only time will tell.
ATP Ranking: 14 and 8 (respectively)
Why They're Here: While these two do not have very similar game plans on court, they have both had lackluster success as of late. The Serb has lost to players of all different natures while the Argentine, besides his wonderful run to the Indian Wells final, has been losing to "unknown" players left and right (such as in the Australian Open).
Early Wimbledon Outlook: This is a very tough call, but again, I only think one of these guys will do okay at Wimbledon. It is very possible that neither player makes any impact, but let's hope that they can at least be able to prove their rankings and abilities.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: Tipsarevic and Del Potro should zone in on the U.S. Open and other ATP1000 events, where they usually have a greater chance of earning ranking points. There is not much that Delpo will be able to achieve in the near future, but 2014 may just be his year. Tipsarevic may not have been a great clay-court player his whole life, but he needs to become more efficient on grass or fast hard courts if he wants to regain a spot in the Top 10.
ATP Ranking: 22
Why He's Here: Here's a guy who was relatively unknown (though I noted his great Wimbledon performance in 2012) less than a year ago. He has a game that resembles that of a monster—scary, devastating blows from each and every wing. The Polish athlete has beaten many top players already this year and will look to keep up the magnificent results.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: His game is well-suited for grass. However, he will have less time to react and this may impact his chances of breaking serve (though he is a relatively good mover for a man of his stature). Let's see if he can do one match better than last year.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: Janowicz has an opportunity to reach the Top 10 by the end of the year. In fact, he could be eligible to qualify for the World Tour Finals if he has two or three more humongous results (the only points he really has to defend are the ones from Paris, where he was a finalist).
ATP Ranking: 16
Why He's Here: Almagro is normally the 11th- or 12th-best player in the world, but with recent showings from Gilles Simon and Kei Nishikori, he may be losing his power factor. Of course, he is a wonderful hard- and clay-court athlete, but his Wimbledon chances are not very high. Still, he is a Top-20 player for sure.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: He has the ability to achieve an upset in the upcoming tournament, but it is doubtful. A man with a big serve and power game should be able to dominate on grass, but maybe his upbringings and training schedule never allowed for him to learn the appropriate technique and how to use his shots most effectively.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: Well, he is still a force for the U.S. Open and could potentially make the World Tour Finals with another good performance somewhere. I'd say his chances of qualifying for the end-of-the-year event are better than Nishikori's or Cilic's, but we must wait and see.
ATP Ranking: 17
Why He's Here: 2013 may just be the second-best season of the Frenchman's career. He has been rock-solid all year round, making big runs in Melbourne and throughout the clay season.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: His lengthy baseline game may prove to be an annoyance for the power players, but it is tough to tell whether or not he will do well on grass this year. He could also be tired from his French Open run to the fourth round, where he played 19 sets in just over a week.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: Simon is definitely a better player than his ranking suggests, and I think he can make it back into the Top 10 again. Maybe it won't happen this year, but he is only getting better with time.
ATP Ranking: 11
Why He's Here: Nishikori seemed to be breaking out five years ago with early indications of success and talent. Fast forward half a decade and the man from Japan is finally earning his accolades. It is shocking that he has been able to get his ranking this high, considering he isn't beating Top-10 players much at all. Still, he is much improved and is playing with more power, consistency and court smarts.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: Look for Nishikori to cruise into the second week this time around. I think his Major performances have been getting better and better, even if he has been losing early every now and then. He has the qualities that a coach cannot teach—he just needs to put them forward in big matches.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: Nishikori will have a tough time staying in the Top 15 if he does not do well in the upcoming ATP1000s. Again, it is any man's game to be eligible for the World Tour Finals, but this may be his only chance in his career to do so.
ATP Ranking: 12
Why He's Here: Marin Cilic, the very talented player who has on-and-off consistency, has been playing exceptionally well as of late. He has a high ranking once again and is even looking to be a threat at Wimbledon.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: His style is not necessarily one of power, though his groundstrokes do pack a punch when he plays people outside the Top 20. However, he has a feel on grass and can go the distance this year, provided he does not have to face a tough man to break (such as Sam Querrey from last year).
Best Case Scenario for 2013: Marin Cilic should look to move a couple places up in the ATP rankings. He could also try to make a semifinal of an ATP1000 event to stay in the spotlight.
ATP Ranking: 13
Why He's Here: If age, consistency and resiliency were factors in the ATP rankings, this man would be among the Top 5. Haas has bounced back tremendously from an injury, recording one of his best years to date and proving that his old-school game is still just as good as anyone's in the modern game. He had a great run in Miami and the French Open, and his all-court game will help him in London next week.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: I think he'll reach the fourth round or quarterfinals. His great spot-serving and backhand slice can help him brush opponents aside. Haas should definitely consider serving and volleying often, though. That's a strong opinion of mine, and it also worked well in 2009, where he reached the semis.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: The sky is the limit for Tommy Haas, who can do Superman-esque things in back-to-back-to-back tournaments. Provided he does not attract another nagging injury, he could go so far as to replace a player like Richard Gasquet in the rankings.
ATP Ranking: 9
Why He's Here: The Frenchman has been in sublime form for the past year or two. Since coming from a suspension four years ago, Gasquet has gotten better each and every year. He performed well in hard-court and clay-court tournaments in 2013 and has the game-play to beat anybody on grass.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: I say he will make the second week of the tournament easily. I do not sense anybody upsetting this talent on grass.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: If Gasquet could keep his ranking in the Top 8, that would be a monumental stride in his quest for excellence. He would be a strong contender for the World Tour Finals if he competed in the elusive tournament.
ATP Ranking: 7
Why He's Here: Tsonga has always been around and has been a tough player for many years. He has one or two historic upsets a year now and is trying to add more to his game to keep his level high at all times. After a very strong showing in Roland Garros, it is apparent that not much will be able to stop the man who is probably a better player on fast grass surfaces.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga should be a consistent quarterfinal or semifinal player for the rest of his career. While this is not a great thing for him since he is certainly good enough to win a Major or two, it illustrates his dominance over players outside the Top 10. So, I would say he will lose in the quarterfinals, but that is nothing to be ashamed of.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: Tsonga needs to do well at the World Tour Finals again, as it is a great tournament for him historically. I can also see him doing well in Montreal or Cincinnati.
ATP Ranking: 10 and 6 (respectively)
Why They're Here: These two men dominated the clay-court season (excluding Rafael Nadal from the conversation). Berdych is also a hot-and-cold player, but he is a very dominant one at that. Wawrinka, on the other hand, has had a resurgence of brilliance in 2013 and is in the best shape of his career. Stanislas is probably deserving of the eighth or ninth spot in the rankings, and his all-court game can support him for another few years to come.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: It is tough to predict how the Swiss player will do until the draw comes out, but I'm going to put him through to the fourth round. Berdych will be upset in the fourth round, one round shy of where he is usually seen. However, his game is definitely meant for fast courts and atmospheres.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: Both of these men should focus on doing well in Montreal and Cincinnati after Wimbledon is over. Something tells me the Swiss player's results will begin to diminish over time, but Berdych will always be in the mix.
ATP Ranking: 4
Why He's Here: It should be obvious why Ferrer is listed this high in the power rankings. He has shown that perhaps an argument should be made that there is now a Big Five. While he will probably not ever win a Major, he is still getting better and better at an old age. He is also an all-court player who could do some damage in the coming months.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: Ferrer will bow out in the semifinals, as his fourth seed will help him to do one round better than we are accustomed to seeing. He is a very tough opponent and his never-say-die attitude will give him great success against the world's best.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: There is no telling how Ferrer will do at the U.S. Open and World Tour Finals, but he can certainly go far in both tournaments. This man continues to raise the bar for himself and set a higher standard for the rest of the field.
ATP Ranking: 2
Why He's Here: I know—he may deserve to be in the third spot. But, his clay season was terrible by his standards and besides the two tournaments where he is always very solid (Australian Open and Sony Open in Miami) he hasn't been as big a force as usual.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: Based on his win at Queen's Club this week, I would say he has a chance to be in the final again. However, with Rafael Nadal competing this year, I think he will lose in the semis (or even quarters) this time.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: Murray will continue to be one of the best players in the game for a long time. Maybe he could win two more titles this year in order to keep his No. 2 (or No. 3) ranking. It is amazing how much the Big Four have accomplished already, and it's hard to tell what their goals are exactly.
ATP Ranking: 3
Why He's Here: Though the Swiss superstar has only won one title this season, his unprecedented consistency has gotten him to the last few rounds of many tournaments. He showed that he can still win tough matches when not playing at a high level, as exhibited in his run to the semifinals in Melbourne. Federer also showed that he can bounce back when it truly matters, winning the grass tune-up, the Gerry Weber Open.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: I think that Federer will be in the final yet again, but his chances of winning may be greater than usual this time (once again due to Nadal's "low" ranking and projected seed). Rafa could beat another Big-Four member in the quarterfinals and then lose in the semis, leaving Federer with only one Big-Four player to worry about in the final. Of course everything must play out in the correct way, but it is possible.Best Case Scenario for 2013: Federer should be more concerned with his performance in the upcoming Majors than anything else. If he is a finalist or champion in one of them, I doubt the critics will be on his back about lackluster performances in less important events. He truly needs to generate a rhythm for himself because he has been too hot-and-cold in the past three years.
ATP Ranking: 1
Why He's Here: Yes, it is true that even with all of his successes this year, he has "underperformed." Part of the problem for him is his more-defensive-than-aggressive mindset, and this will not bode well for his Wimbledon chances. Another part of the problem is Rafael Nadal's historic comeback. Djokovic is still the world's No. 1-ranked player by a long shot, but he surely cares more about winning Slams than his ranking.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: It's hard to count Nole out of a Major, especially when he has been making quarterfinals and semis consistently for years. I'm going to say he will lose in the semifinals, though there may be a showdown with another Big-Four member there that he will be keen on winning.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: Novak will likely back up his spot in the U.S. Open final and World Tour Finals from last year. He will also win either Montreal or Cincinnati in 2013. I don't sense he will show up in Paris, but he has done well there a couple times.
ATP Ranking: 5
Why He's Here: Since losing in the second round of Wimbledon last year and missing the next two Major tournaments, Rafa has lost just twice in his massive return to the tour. Losing only in finals of tournaments, he has also won a handful of titles. He has been the best player in the men's game, even though he has only played one tournament on a non-red-clay court.
Early Wimbledon Outlook: I do not think Rafa's style of play that worked so well all year on clay and at Indian Wells will work at SW19. If he makes a few adjustments—such as standing closer to the baseline, taking balls on the rise on the forehand side and serving bigger—he will be a finalist with no problems. I can't help but think a non-Top-20 player will take two sets off of him in the early rounds, though.
Best Case Scenario for 2013: Rafa will want to be a force on hard courts for the remainder of the season, though it may take a toll on his body if he plays in too many of them. If he sits out of all ATP250 and 500 events on hard court to rest, he will be the No. 1 player in the world come December.
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