Early 2014 Grades for the ATP Top 30

Abbey Chase@@Abbey_ChaseContributor IIIMarch 19, 2014

Early 2014 Grades for the ATP Top 30

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    Sunday’s thrilling final at the BNP Paribas Open punctuated an exciting, upset-filled week in Indian Wells that saw the ATP and WTA back together for the first time since Melbourne. And things have only just gotten started. 

    With the Sony Open now under way, the pace will continue to pick up for the men and women heading into the spring clay-and-grass swing that will only take a sustained break following the conclusion of Wimbledon in early July.

    The ATP has seen a slightly unusual start to its season, with a surprise winner in Australia and the ever-so-slight faltering of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal during the first few months, but overall, the high-quality tennis at the top of the men’s game has continued.

    Last week in Indian Wells saw a topsy-turvy tournament unfold, with Nadal and Andy Murray both bowing out early. But when the dust settled, the stalwarts were left standing. Off to one of his better starts in a few years, Roger Federer has once again proved that any conversation about the demise of his game is premature.

    Until proven otherwise, the ATP is still (mostly) the Big Four’s territory, but the first few months of this season have showed increasing promise from the rest of the field. Here’s how the top 30 men have fared so far.

1. Rafael Nadal

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 1 

    Nadal began 2014 on the right foot, although he had to fight through several close matches to take the title in Doha, Qatar. Up until the final in Melbourne, the tournament looked to be Nadal’s to lose, with the Spaniard playing some of his best tennis to get through a particularly tough draw.

    Since he suffered a back injury in Australia, he has produced an odd combination of results. He handily won the title in Rio in February, surrendering only one set the entire tournament but lost in the third round in Indian Wells to Alexandr Dolgopolov after barely surviving his first-round match against Radek Stepanek.

    This is not the start to the season that Nadal was hoping for after such a tremendous 2013, but one bad result is not cause for concern. What is worrying is the way that both Stepanek and Dolgopolov controlled the court last week against Nadal, robbing the Spaniard of his trademark assertiveness.

    Nadal didn’t show his best tennis last week, but it also wasn’t his worst. The impending clay season should help boost his game, but the rest of the field should take notice of Stepanek’s ability to control the ball against him.

    Grade: B

2. Novak Djokovic

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 2

    On paper, Djokovic has had a phenomenal run since the start of 2013, winning eight titles and amassing an 86-11 record. But the Serb has lacked that X-factor in his game for several months now, rarely losing matches he should win but not quite demonstrating the level of dominance we’ve seen from him in the past.

    This season so far has produced a similar conundrum. He reached the quarterfinals in Australia, where he was defeated by the eventual champion Stanislas Wawrinka. Djokovic also lost to a resurgent Roger Federer in Dubai last month—great results on paper but slightly disappointing for the world No. 2.

    But the title in Indian Wells over the weekend was a big result from Djokovic and upped the intimidation factor from the Serb heading into the spring slog.

    The tournament in Miami will further reveal where his game is at this point in the season, but the win at the BNP Paribas Open did a lot to help improve Djokovic’s 2014.

    Grade: A-

3. Stanislas Wawrinka

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 8 

    No one has produced a career-highlight moment in 2014 so far like Wawrinka has. Having now passed his illustrious compatriot in the rankings, he sits at a career-high No. 3 ranking after an amazing run in Australia.

    Since then, however, Wawrinka hasn’t done much. Aside from one Davis Cup match at the end of January, he made his return to the court last week in Indian Wells after a month-long break to lose in the round of 16 to Kevin Anderson.

    Anderson is a player who has made huge strides in 2014, so his No. 18 ranking is deceptive, but the match still left something to be desired from Wawrinka.

    Still, the Swiss won his first career Grand Slam this season and made himself a part of the conversation in a way he never had been in the past. Mediocre play after such a big win is common on both the men's and women’s tours, and on the back of a great 2013 season, the rest of 2014 bodes well for Wawrinka.

    Grade: A-

4. David Ferrer

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 3

    Ferrer seemingly never goes away, and the Spaniard’s relentless presence at the top of the game is admirable: He’s been ranked in the Top 10 since October of 2010. 

    The Spaniard has played a lot of tennis this year, entering six events in two months, but has only had one big result, a title in Buenos Aires. With the exception of his quarterfinal loss to Tomas Berdych in Australia, Ferrer has been defeated every time this year by a player outside the Top 20.

    A left abductor strain kept him out of action in Indian Wells last week, but the Spaniard is slated to return in Miami.

    Ferrer’s game hinges on his ability to be consistent and win the matches he’s supposed to win, but he’s failed to do either in 2014. The Spaniard has continued to improve from year to year for the last decade, but at 31, he likely doesn’t have many years left.

    Based on his game, it’s hard to see him rising any further in the ranks. He’ll need to rediscover his form to stay where he is.

    Grade: B-

5. Roger Federer

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 6 

    While seeing Federer listed alongside the No. 5 spot is still a little shocking, the Swiss has been playing some of his best tennis in months to start 2014.

    A single title and a 45-17 record marred Federer’s 2013 season, prompting the inevitable questions about retirement, but the 32-year-old has discovered his vintage form so far this season.

    He opened 2014 with a loss in the final in Brisbane—which was an ominous start for someone who has had trouble reaching and winning finals the last few seasonsbut a semifinal showing in Australia set up a great two-tournament run.

    He looked very sharp in Dubai in February, rallying to defeat both Djokovic and Berdych after dropping the first set to take the title.

    His form carried over to Indian Wells, where he defeated Tommy Haas, Anderson and Dolgopolov (all tougher opponents than their rankings would indicate) with ease. The final, however, saw a Federer more characteristic of 2013.

    Though he won the first set with strong serving and consistency of the ground, the wheels came off in the second. After mounting a comeback late in the final set, Federer’s forehand abandoned him yet again in the crucial match tiebreaker.

    It’s no secret that Federer is in the twilight of his career, and his 2014 campaign has shown so far that he is still capable of playing some great tennis (something that didn’t seem entirely certain at the end of last season).

    The lapses in concentration that plagued him last year have appeared to be fewer this season (though Sunday’s final was one such instance), and most importantly, Federer believes in his game again.

    Grade: A-

6. Andy Murray

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 4 

    Since winning Wimbledon last year, Murray hasn’t produced any noteworthy results, with a back injury ending his season prematurely in September.

    Now on the mend, he has played an unusually high number of tournaments this year, entering six events compared to three at this time last year. He's undoubtedly looking for matches to toughen up, both physically and mentally.

    So far, his tactic doesn’t seem to be working. Murray’s best showing was a quarterfinal berth in Australia, where he bowed out to Federer, and a semifinal appearance in Acapulco, where he was defeated by Grigor Dimitrov.

    All of his five losses this season have come against lower-ranked players, and while the back doesn’t seem to be giving him any trouble, the fire seems to have gone out of his game. With a subpar performance to open 2014, Murray saw his ranking drop to No. 7 in February—his lowest ranking since 2008.

    Playing to defend his title in Miami this week, the Brit still has plenty of time to find his form and have a solid 2014 season, but with a mountain of points to defend in the coming months, he’ll have to do it fast.

    Grade: C

7. Tomas Berdych

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 7 

    Berdych has gained more and more attention over the last few years, as the Czech has established himself as a consistent presence in the Top Eight. While the spotlight has not been on Berdych much this season, he’s quietly been putting together a decent 2014 campaign.

    The beneficiary of a relatively easy draw, Berdych played some highly inspired tennis to earn a semifinal appearance in Australia, and he backed it up with a title in Rotterdam and a final berth in Dubai.

    His first misstep of the season came in Indian Wells, where he was upset by Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round, 6-4, 2-6, 4-6.

    Still, he has proved himself to be a top-tier competitor and someone most players are hoping to avoid in their section of the draw. One loss doesn’t take away from an otherwise highly impressive season for Berdych, who has demonstrated sustained improvement over the last few years.

    Grade: A-

8. Juan Martin Del Potro

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    Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press

    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 5 

    2014 has been a thoroughly underwhelming season for Del Potro, who started off with a win in Sydney and has recorded a 3-3 record since.

    He was upset by Bautista Agut in Australia, who has proved to be the giant slayer of 2014 so far, and fell to Ernests Gulbis in the quarterfinals in Rotterdam.

    More worrying, the Argentine retired in his first match in Dubai and withdrew from the event in Indian Wells due to a left wrist injury (though he is slated to play in Miami this week).

    Assuming the bad wrist has been hampering Del Potro for the better part of this season, his poor results are less shocking, but the 25-year-old’s numerous injuries do not bode well for the rest of the season or the longevity of his career.

    Grade: C

9. Richard Gasquet

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 9 

    Another player who has entered six tournaments already in 2014, Gasquet hasn’t produced any particularly noteworthy results and has incurred six losses—five to players outside the Top 20.

    He lost in the third round of the Australian Open, and his best result of the season came in early February in Montpellier, where he made the final before losing to compatriot Gael Monfils. He followed that up with a round-of-16 performance in Rotterdam, a semifinal appearance in Marseille and a third-round berth in Indian Wells.

    Ranked just two spots below his career high, Gasquet has managed to stay inside the Top 10 with lackluster results, but a semifinal appearance in Miami last year means the Frenchman will have a heap of points to defend this week.

    Once touted as the next big thing, he has comfortably settled into the role of journeyman, and at 27, he doesn’t have much time left to make a push to the top. He can thank the relatively poor performances from the players below him for his high ranking and will need to step it up moving forward to maintain it.

    Grade: B-

10. John Isner

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 14

    A strong performance at the BNP Paribas Open put Isner back in the Top 10 and one spot short of his career-high ranking.

    He didn’t begin 2014 on a strong note, retiring during his opening match in Melbourne with an ankle injury, but he’s produced some solid results since, making the semifinals in Delray Beach and Indian Wells last week.

    The 28-year-old can take away a lot of positives from last week’s run, beating Gulbis in two tiebreak sets and taking a set off Djokovic in the semifinals.

    Not surprisingly, as Isner’s serve goes, so goes his game, and he delivered on that front last week. But for him to take his game to the next level, his footwork and groundstrokes have to fall into place as well.

    Unfortunately for the American, the upcoming clay season doesn’t present many opportunities to move up the ranks, but the upside is that with virtually no points to defend, he likely won’t lose much ground.

    Grade: B­+

11. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

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    Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press

    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 10

    After breaking into the Top Five a few years ago, Tsonga’s game has significantly plateaued. The Frenchman has continued to produce solid results but has yet to earn any big wins at a major since defeating Federer in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2011, coming back from two sets to love down. 

    Tsonga made it to the fourth round of the Australian Open before falling to Federer, again playing solid tennis but failing to take out the top guys.

    A run to the final in Marseille, which he lost to Gulbis, marked Tsonga’s best result of the year, and his season continued to stagnate in Indian Wells after he was upset in the second round by Julien Benneteau.

    When he’s playing at his best, he is more than capable of standing up to the best in the game, but frequent injuries and an inability to sustain momentum over the course of a season have prevented him from becoming a reliable Top Five presence.

    2014 has seen much of the same from Tsonga, who has continued to play just well enough to keep himself within reach of the Top 10.

    Grade: B-

12. Milos Raonic

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 11 

    Raonic actually dropped a spot in the rankings this week, but the Canadian should be pleased with his performance so far this season.

    Because he has only played two events, gauging his performance is limited, but two solid performances have reignited discussion about the 23-year-old’s potential.

    In Australia, Raonic lost in the round of 32 to Grigor Dimitrov (who is having a tremendous 2014) and played a highly competitive match against the Bulgarian, whom many consider to be another potential Top Five player.

    He earned his third career win over Murray in Indian Wells last week before losing to Dolgopolov in the quarterfinals.

    The key to Raonic’s success will be continued improvement, and so far, 2014 has seen him deliver a stronger serve, more consistent groundstrokes and better movement. An ankle injury has nagged the Canadian through the early part of 2014 but has yet to pose a major threat so far.

    Grade: B+

13. Tommy Haas

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 12 

    The more things change, the more Tommy Haas stays the same. At 35, he is past his prime but continues to produce highly entertaining tennis.

    The question with him always comes back to his injuries; multiple surgeries have derailed the German’s career more than anything. But Haas has always found a way to bounce back and rediscover his game.

    A shoulder injury again interfered with his 2014 campaign, as he was forced to retire during his first-round match in Australia. In the five events he has entered since, he has seen a lot of court time but has earned a 9-5 record (with one loss being another retirement).

    Haas will probably never be a Top 10 player again, but the veteran is still capable of competing at the highest level. While it will likely take a small miracle for him to upset one of the top players, the German’s consistency at such a late point in his career is admirable.

    Grade: B

14. Fabio Fognini

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 16

    Fognini’s on-court histrionics have often garnered more attention that the Italian’s results, but the 26-year-old has put together a solid 2014 campaign (without losing his dramatic flair). 

    A 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 shellacking by Djokovic in Australia was a result that Fognini would like to forget, but in his last four events, he has made the quarterfinals or better in three of them. The Italian took home the title in Vina del Mar in early February and made it to the final in Buenos Aires the following week.

    In Indian Wells, he contributed his fair share of drama to the proceedings in his opening match against Ryan Harrison but successfully weathered the pro-Harrison crowd to win a tough contest.

    The Italian is sitting at his career-high ranking right now, and a loss in the round of 16 in Indian Wells shouldn’t derail his auspicious start to the season. Heading into the clay court swing later this month, Fognini will have more opportunities to build on his momentum.

    Grade: B+

15. Mikhail Youzhny

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 15

    Youzhny may be the most invisible player in the Top 20, and the Russian veteran has not given his fans much to be excited about so far in 2014.

    Illness forced him to withdraw from two matches this season, and the 31-year-old missed Indian Wells last week with a back injury. With a 3-4 record on the year, he has barely played enough to draw conclusions one way or another, but a retirement and a withdrawal in five tournaments don’t set a positive tone for the rest of the season.

    Youzhny has a solid game with no noticeable weaknesses, but the 31-year-old has never developed any weapons to threaten the top players. Injury, illness and age aren’t helping either. He is not competing in Miami this week.

    Grade: C-

16. Grigor Dimitrov

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 23

    A long-anticipated rising talent, Dimitrov has shown promising improvements through the early months of 2014 and has had one of the biggest rankings jumps in the Top 30.

    His best performance of the year came in Australia, where the Bulgarian pushed Nadal to four sets in a very close match in the quarterfinals. After years of being called "Baby Fed," Dimitrov is starting to deliver.

    The 22-year-old picked up the title in Acapulco heading into Indian Wells, where he was defeated by Gulbis in the third round.

    Neither Dimitrov nor Gulbis is a new name to the tennis world, but both have prompted a lot more questions in the last few seasons than they have provided answers. So far in 2014, Dimitrov has demonstrated a much more cohesive, consistent game.

    He defeated Murray for the first time in his career in Acapulco, and while last week’s early loss was not ideal, Dimitrov has started 2014 with a bang. He should feel confident heading into Miami and the rest of the season.

    Grade: A

17. Tommy Robredo

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 18 

    Robredo has put together a respectable career as the ultimate journeyman. He scored one of the biggest wins of his career over Federer in the fourth round of the U.S. Open last year.

    The Spaniard fought through three tough matches in Australia, upsetting Gasquet in the third round before falling to Wawrinka in a deceptively close three-set match in the round of 16. In his past four tournaments, he has lost to three players who were ranked lower than him, including a 6-1, 6-1 blowout against Pablo Andujar in Rio de Janeiro.

    Just past his 31st birthday, Robredo’s best days are behind him, and the Spaniard likely won’t be contending for many titles going forward. If he can tighten up his game and win the matches he should, he should still have a few seasons of good tennis left.

    Grade: B

18. Kevin Anderson

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 20

    Though his ranking hasn’t risen dramatically this year, Anderson is one of the most improved players on the tour. The South African made the second week of a major for the fourth time in his career in Australia and has since made the final in two events.

    In Delray Beach, the 27-year-old fell in three tights sets to Marin Cilic in the final and again lost in the deciding set in the final of Acapulco the following week.

    He continued his run in Indian Wells, handling veteran Lleyton Hewitt with ease in his opening match and gutting out a three-set win over Australian Open champion Wawrinka in the fourth round.

    A three-time All-American singles player at Illinois, Anderson has taken awhile to adjust to the professional tour but has made significant strides in the last year. At 6’8’’, his serve is his biggest weapon, but his continued attention to improvements in his ground game have helped him get off to a flying start in 2014.

    Grade: A

19. Nicolas Almagro

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 13

    Ranked as high as No. 9 in 2011, Almagro has struggled to find his best tennis early in the season. After missing the Australian Open due to a shoulder injury, the Spaniard made his 2014 debut in Vina del Mar, where he made it to the semifinals before losing to Fognini.

    He made the semifinals in Buenos Aires the following week but has lost back-to-back first-round matches in Rio and Sao Paulo.

    The shoulder injury forced him out of Indian Wells last week, but he is slated to return in Miami. His first opponent will be either Sam Querrey or Sergiy Stakhovsky, both tricky players to face on hard courts.

    Luckily for Almagro, the clay season should give him more opportunities to make a dent in the draw, so long as he can remain injury free through the coming months.

    Grade: C

20. Jerzy Janowicz

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 21

    Janowicz earned a name for himself in the fall of 2012 with a surprise run to the finals in Paris and provided the tennis world with one of the greatest meltdowns of 2013 following a tirade in the second round of the Australian Open.  

    In 2014, he has yet to produce any noteworthy results but hasn’t made any major missteps either.

    He was tested at the Australian Open, barely surviving his tilt against a No. 319-ranked qualifier in the first round, but he made a run to the semifinals in Montpellier in February. Though ousted in the third round in Rotterdam by Berdych, Janowicz earned two solid wins over Benneteau and Hass at that tournament.

    The Pole has a deadly forehand when he’s on and put together a fantastic run at Wimbledon last year, losing to Murray in the semifinals. Janowicz has yet to make any noise in 2014, but a string of solid wins has positioned him well for the rest of the season.

    Grade: B

21. Kei Nishikori

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 17

    A title in Memphis has been the highlight of Nishikori’s 2014 season, but he has made little headway into the draw in any other event.

    In Melbourne, he hung tough against Nadal in the round of 16 but fell to Teymuraz Gabashvili and Haas in Delray Beach and Indian Wells, respectively.

    Since breaking into the Top 20 in 2012, Nishikori has been a consistent presence, though not an overwhelming threat to players ranked above him. The 24-year-old’s title in Memphis was a promising start to 2014, although he never faced a player ranked inside the top 75 in his four matches.

    Grade: B

22. Ernests Gulbis

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 24

    Every time Gulbis looks poised to break into the Top 10, the Latvian inevitably gets in his own way, and lapses in concentration have characterized his career as much as his killer forehand.

    After a year that saw him make headlines for his off-court comments rather than his on-court performance, 2014 has proved to be a much more productive season for the 25-year-old thus far.

    Since a disappointing loss to Querrey in the second round of the Australian Open, Gulbis has made the quarterfinals or better in the four events he’s played. This run saw him take home the title in Marseille and defeat three French players—Nicolas Mahut, Gasquet and Tsonga—en route.

    Perhaps the best thing to happen to his game this year? Dimitrov. The two are three years apart but are rough contemporaries in terms of career trajectory and have already met three times this year (Gulbis leads 2-1).

    Both men could benefit from a higher level of concentration, and their budding rivalry could prove sufficient motivation for them to increase the intensity level in their games.

    Grade: A

23. Alexandr Dolgopolov

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 57 

    Dolgopolov stormed onto the scene in 2011 when he defeated Tsonga and Robin Soderling at the Australian Open, but until this year, he had done little to back up his performance.

    With a 34-point jump in the rankings, he has quietly had the best start to a season in his career after a disastrous 24-27 2013 campaign.

    The Ukrainian lost a tough five-setter against Jeremy Chardy in Melbourne but has put together three strong showings in the last month, losing in the final in Rio to Nadal and earning semifinal appearances in Acapulco and Indian Wells.

    Though he lost to Federer in the semifinals last week, Dolgopolov had an amazing run at the BNP Paribas Open, defeating Fognini and Raonic and earning his first career win against Nadal.

    Grade: A-

24. Gael Monfils

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 31

    One of the most entertaining and infuriating players on tour, Monfils has never quite managed to strike a balance between solid tennis and overblown theatrics, but he’s started 2014 on the right foot.

    He came flying out of the gates with a run to the final in Doha to begin the season, taking a set off Nadal in the final, and won the title, his sixth, in Montpellier. At the BNP Paribas Open, he was defeated by fellow showman Fognini in a third-round encounter.

    The two played one of the most entertaining matches of the 2010 season at the French Open that stretched over two days and involved more than its fair share of theatrics.

    For fans of Monfils, his inability to focus is beyond frustrating. For fans of tennis, a Monfils match is something that cannot be missed. The Mansour Bahrami of his generation, Monfils never fails to put on a show, and early in 2014, his tactics have been relatively successful.

    Grade: B+

25. Philipp Kohlschreiber

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 22

    Kohlschreiber's 2014 season has been completely forgettable, if not totally disappointing. A hamstring injury kept the German out of competition in Melbourne, and he made his return to the tour in Rotterdam, defeating Gasquet and Stakhovsky.

    He backed that up with a semifinal berth in Dubai but crashed out in the first round of Indian Wells against Yen-Hsun Lu.

    There’s nothing particularly flashy about Kohlschreiber's game, and the 30-year-old has earned only one major upset in his career: an infamous win over then-No. 6 Andy Roddick at the 2008 Australian Open.

    Unfortunately for Kohlschreiber, he has a rather unfavorable draw in Miami and will likely face Tsonga (who holds a 6-1 record against him) in the third round.

    Grade: C

26. Marin Cilic

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 37

    Everyone in the tennis world has had their eye on Cilic for a few years now, but like so many of the other young players on the ATP, he has failed to deliver in the big moments.

    His 2013 season was completely blown after he failed a drug test last spring, and he returned to the court in Brisbane after having played only one event in six months.

    In Melbourne, he lost a heartbreaking five-set match against Gilles Simon in the second round but quickly rebounded to win the title in Zagreb without dropping a set. He picked up his second title of the year in Delray Beach and took a set off Djokovic in their fourth-round match in Indian Wells.

    Cilic has been consistent enough to keep his name in the conversation, and while 25 is hardly old, the Croat needs to make his move. Two titles to begin 2014 is the perfect start for Cilic, but he will be forced to prove his mettle early in Miami, where he would likely meet Wawrinka in the third round.

    Grade: A-

27. Gilles Simon

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 19 

    2014 so far has been a bleak season for Simon, who has racked up a 4-5 record over the last three months.

    He fought through two drawn-out, five-set matches in the opening rounds in Australia and was pushed to 16-14 in the final set of his first match against Daniel Brands. Since losing in the third round to Tsonga, Simon has only won two matches, both against players outside the top 90.

    About the only result Simon can take confidence in is his performance in Acapulco, where he made it to the third round and took a set off Murray.

    Since making the jump from Top 50 to Top 20 in 2011, he has had little trouble staying there, but a poor beginning to 2014 doesn’t bode well for the 29-year-old Frenchman.

    Grade: D

28. Vasek Pospisil

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 32

    The second Canadian in the Top 30 (and the top 100), Pospisil hasn’t quite shown the potential of his compatriot Raonic, but a berth into the Top 30 for the first time in his career means he is moving in the right direction.

    In his opening event of 2014, he retired against Wawrinka with a back injury and did so again at the Australian Open.

    He hasn’t won a match since.

    He came onto the scene last year at Rogers Cup in Montreal, putting forth a valiant effort in his three-set loss to Raonic. He made another run to the semifinals in Basel in October but has been unable to string together more than two wins in any other event since last August.

    At 23, Pospisil is still very young, and while he can play the aggressor effectively, his game is in need of some serious development, particularly on defense.

    Grade: B-

29. Fernando Verdasco

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 33

    The owner of one of the most powerful forehands in the game (the “fear-hand,” as Brad Gilbert calls it), Verdasco has slid in the rankings considerably over the last few seasons after two nearly uninterrupted years inside the Top 10.

    Early results from this season haven’t proved any better for Verdasco, who is 4-4 on the year and won two matches in a row for the first time in 2014 last week in Indian Wells.

    He had a climactic end to 2013 on the doubles court, taking the World Tour Final doubles title in London last fall with partner David Marrero. But doubles has offered him little consolation this season, as he owns a 2-4 record with Marrero.

    Another older player in the Top 30, the 30-year-old likely doesn’t have many years left, and a poor start to 2014 hasn’t helped. He’ll need to rediscover his forehand and capitalize on his physicality to move back up in the ranks.

    Grade: D

30. Dmitry Tursunov

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    2013 Year-End Ranking: No. 29

    Tursunov had a very successful 2013 season, jumping from No. 122 to end the year in the Top 30. Unfortunately, that success is largely what’s kept his ranking so high through the early part of 2014.

    With a 6-8 record, he has only made it past the second round in a tournament twice, earning a semifinal appearance in Sydney and a third-round berth in Indian Wells.

    The Russian made it to the third round in Flushing Meadows last fall (his first appearance that late in a major since 2008), so while early play in 2014 hasn’t been stellar from Tursunov, his performance has generally been improving over the last six months.

    The clay-court season will not play to his strengths, so a strong performance in Miami will be key for the Russian to keep himself in the Top 30 in the lead-up to Roland Garros, though the draw is not in his favor. He would likely face Nadal in the third round.

    Grade: C