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Best-Case Scenarios for Top Stars of Men's Tennis in 2014

Jeffrey RuthFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2014

Best-Case Scenarios for Top Stars of Men's Tennis in 2014

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    Rafael Nadal was crowned year-end No. 1 in 2013.
    Rafael Nadal was crowned year-end No. 1 in 2013.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    The top men's tennis players often tip their hands when it comes to best-case scenarios. Consider the coaching carousel that took place just before the beginning of the 2014 season.

    Roger Federer called on former world No. 1 Stefan Edberg.

    Novak Djokovic pulled Edberg's old nemesis Boris Becker into his team.

    Their contemporary, Ivan Lendl, still is in Andy Murray's fold.

    It's easy to see just how this plays into the mindsets of the Swiss and Serbian stars. Certainly it says a lot about what they would say constitutes success for them in the year-to-come. For the other top players such as David Ferrer and Juan Martin Del Potro, it is a pretty safe bet that they want what their fans want: the big win.

    How about Rafael Nadal? His version of the dream year apparently knows no bounds.

    Here's a brief analysis of what one can imagine will make for the best 2014 for each of these top men's tennis players.

Roger Federer

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    Roger Federer looks to improve upon his 2013 Wimbledon performance.
    Roger Federer looks to improve upon his 2013 Wimbledon performance.Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Roger Federer announced the addition of Stefan Edberg to his coaching staff with typical understated fashion. Per the ATP World Tour website, he announced, "Stefan was my childhood hero, and I am really looking forward to spending time and learning from him."

    Sure.

    What he is really saying with this pick is that he wants to win Wimbledon 2014. It is pretty clear. A player of Federer's caliber could, and did, hand pick nearly any coach in the world. He chose the Swedish two-time champion of the All England Club.

    It seems certain that the all-time Grand Slam championships leader is going to leave the game fairly soon. Cedric Pioline, who once held the No. 5 spot in the ATP rankings thinks it is imminent.

    Per Tennis News Brazil, via tennistonic.com, Pioline hedged his bets a bit, but said, "I do not know when he will stop, and surely he will play at least another year, but don't be surprised if he retires at the end of 2014." So what would be the best-case scenario for Federer this year? One more chance to hold the trophy in London.

    That seems simple enough, and with Edberg by his side, it just may be.

Juan Martin Del Potro

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    Juan Martin Del Potro looks to taste more Grand Slam trophies.
    Juan Martin Del Potro looks to taste more Grand Slam trophies.telegraph.co.uk

    Juan Martin Del Potro must be sick of hearing about the past.

    In 2011 he was voted Comeback Player of the Year by his peers on the ATP tour. Reports that year focused on the wrist injury he suffered and the subsequent surgery he underwent. After a particularly successful match against Robin Soderling in Miami, he noted that, "It's a long road to come back and be in the top again, but I am trying to be calm."

    Then in 2012 USAToday.com ran an article headlining Del Potro as the "Comeback Kid."

    As late as summer 2013, the press remained merciless.  The New York Times' tennis blog still stated the Argentine "Looks to Return to Form."

    It's time to say it once and for all: Del Potro is in the top five of the tennis world. He is no longer on the comeback trail. He is in the midst of a successful career. At this point Del Potro's best-case scenario would be to win a Grand Slam, any Grand Slam, and be done with it.

    That would put the past to rest, at least until the ATP World Tour Finals.

Andy Murray

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    One Wimbledon trophy will not be enough for Andy Murray.
    One Wimbledon trophy will not be enough for Andy Murray.Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

    Andy Murray needs to win Wimbledon again.

    That would be the ideal best-case scenario for the Scot in 2014. If he thought the pressure of winning Wimbledon for the first time was extreme, he hasn't seen anything yet. Consider the fact that a leading British news outlet reminded the world when he won Wimbledon that his U.S. Open win wasn't a fluke.

    Really? That needed to be said?

    Apparently it did. Kevin Mitchell of The Guardian, via BBC Sport, wrote that when Murray won his second major it proved that the first wasn't a fluke. Sadly, one can imagine the British press continuing in that vein and second-guessing his victory at SW19.

    Unless he wins it again.

    Like Federer, Murray will look at Wimbledon to bring about a successful season. Murray, in fact, isn't even thinking about winning the opening Slam in Australia. ESPN.co.uk reports the reigning Wimbledon champion revealed that it would be "unrealistic" for him to win the Australian Open.

    Of his chances, he had this to say:

    I wouldn't expect to win the Australian Open. I'm just saying that I know that I've trained hard and physically I've done a lot of good work. But here was a perfect example of how you can be the fittest guy in the world but if you don't play matches it's completely different to anything we do in the gym or anything like that. It would be unrealistic to expect to win the Australian Open, but I may start to feel better if I can get through a match or two.

    He's already looking forward to the summer and defending his British crown.

David Ferrer

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    David Ferrer needs to respect himself in 2014.
    David Ferrer needs to respect himself in 2014.Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Rodney Dangerfield once quoted David Ferrer, saying he never got any respect. While that may not be a factual statement regarding who said what, it sums up Ferrer's 2014 hopes.

    He absolutely must win a Grand Slam event in order to realize his best-case scenario this season.

    It doesn't help that even Ferrer believes he is one of the worst top 100 players ever in the history of tennis, according to CNN.com. The sad truth of the matter is that Ferrer is not only in the top 100, but he is actually the No. 3-ranked tennis professional in the entire world.

    It is clear that even this grand achievement is not enough to gain him the respect he deserves. Therefore, even moving up to No. 2, if it were possible, probably wouldn't do that either.

    So the only best-case scenario available to the Spaniard is to win his first Grand Slam title. 

    But will he do it? Not if one believes Ferrer himself. His answer to Sport360.com, as reported by stevegtennis.com, about his winning a major in 2014 doesn't inspire much confidence. "No, I don't think so."

    Well, that's that.

Novak Djokovic

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    Expect Novak Djokovic to seek the French Open trophy in 2014.
    Expect Novak Djokovic to seek the French Open trophy in 2014.Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

    Novak Djokovic has had his say already. His best-case scenario in 2014 is to win Grand Slam titles.

    According to mirror.co.uk, Djokovic stated, "The Grand Slams are the tournaments where I want to win, where I want to get my hands on the title. That will be my highest priority for next year."

    That's pretty clear.

    One could easily imagine that he would instead be after the No. 1 ranking. Robert Davis, writing for atpworldtour.com in November 2009 observed that the Serb wanted to be "great" from the age of 6. He certainly has achieved tennis greatness, having gotten to the very top of the game. Seemingly, the ranking itself is not really on Djokovic's mind at this point.

    He wants the slams.

    Enter Boris Becker. The move has surprised nearly everyone in the tennis world. Lleyton Hewitt doesn't see the reason behind the change. Same with Roger Federer.

    Peter Bodo of tennis.com brought out the famous Becker quote that possibly explains the move. "In the fifth set it is not anymore about tennis. It is about nerves," the German once said. For a player that is seeking to get over the mental hump of closing out more Grand Slam tournaments, the coaching switch makes perfect sense.

    Djokovic sees 2014 as the year to win Slams and win he will.

Rafael Nadal

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    Look for more of the same fight, fight, fight from Rafael Nadal in the 2014 season.
    Look for more of the same fight, fight, fight from Rafael Nadal in the 2014 season.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    It is almost like a question asked of a little boy. "What would you like for the New Year, Rafael Nadal?" It's hard to find an answer that is as clear as the other top players around him.

    That's because Nadal has it all.

    His knees suspect, he won three straight hard-court tournaments this past summer, culminating in a U.S. Open title. Quoted by Christopher Clarey of  the The New York Times Nadal said, "I felt I did everything right to have my chance here." Then he regained No. 1 at the end of the year.

    Of that accomplishment, per atpworldtour.com, he claimed, "For most of this year, I played the best tennis of my career."

    He doesn't have anything to prove, that's for sure. His best-case scenario, therefore, must be an entirely personal one. It probably has something to do with staying No. 1.

    Look for him to keep one step ahead of the pack, beginning on the reportedly lightning-fast (via SI.com) hard courts of this year's Australian Open.

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