The 2011 tennis season comes to an end with three newcomers inside the top 10 rankings.
Nicolas Almagro, Janko Tipsarevic and Mardy Fish made their debut into the elite group, finishing the year as well as they ever had.
As players are mostly remembered for how many major titles they have won at the end of their careers, it is interesting to predict the chances of the top 10 men of 2011 accomplishing this feat in 2012.
However as we go through each player’s analysis in the slides to follow, you will notice their absence, since they didn’t finish the year in the top 10.
At the age of 26, Nicolas Almagro reached the top 10 in the ATP ranking for the first time.
He is the third best Spaniard in the world, behind Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer, though he is often omitted from the Spain’s Davis Cup team.
Almagro has a beautiful game and one of the best one-handed backhands in the business.
However, the high level of the competition and the supposed lack of commitment and self belief, it is hard to picture him winning a major or even holding on to the 10th spot in the ranking.
Janko Tipsarevic is another player in his late 20s who broke into the top 10 for the first time in his career.
This was greatly due to an amazing run in the second semester of 2011 that took him to London as the alternate player in the ATP World Tour Finals.
The lack of a more powerful game makes it tough for him to top the very best and is his greatest obstacle to clinching a major title.
With big shot guys like Juan Martin Del Potro and Robin Soderling coming back strong and healthy next year, 2011 could have been the pinnacle of Janko’s career in terms of ranking and results.
Mardy Fish is living the best moment of his career at 29 years old.
In 2011 he qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals for the first time and had his best year-end ranking ever, at No. 8.
He owns an interesting game that mixes solid baseline performances with the ability to come to net and serve and volley whenever he wishes.
Besides all the effort he has put in, the late stage of his career should be his worst enemy for ending it with a major title in the books.
This is the second consecutive year that Tomas Berdych finishes the year inside the top 10.
He is perfectly built for tennis and has a great game that showcases a big serve and big forehand—the two main weapons in modern tennis.
He also reached the final of a major, at Wimbledon in 2010, losing to Rafael Nadal in straight sets.
Berdych definitely has the potential to win a major title. He is his own biggest obstacle however, as he hasn’t shown mental toughness and self belief to taking that last step on one the final Sundays in 2012.
His best chances are at Wimbledon and one of the two hard court majors.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is finishing as a top 10 player for the third time in the last four years.
He had a great run in 2011, capturing two titles and making it to the finals of the ATP World Tour Finals, in London.
Tsonga is a powerful and flashy player who is also a great entertainer and crowd favorite. He has reached a major final before, at the Australian Open in 2008.
Injuries have played an unfortunate role in his career. Provided that he remains healthy, this Frenchman has all the tools necessary to become a major champion.
Like Berdych, his best chances are Wimbledon and one of the two hard court majors.
David Ferrer is one of the most respected players on the tour due to his determination, hard work and mental toughness.
He had an amazing year in 2011, winning two titles, reaching the semifinal round of the World Tour Finals, in addition to playing a major role in taking Spain to the Davis Cup final, featuring a brilliant performance in the United States against the home team in the quarterfinal.
As the modern game requires that a player posses a big weapon—preferably a big serve or a forehand—in order to go all the way in a major, David Ferrer should have gone as far as he could possibly go in his career and is not likely to capture one of the big ones in 2012.
Andy Murray has established himself as the fourth-best player in the world since 2008.
His counter-punch playing style (lacking more aggressiveness), alongside his ability to perform well on the big stage have kept him from breaking through as a major champ however.
He has reached the final round of the last two editions of the Australian Open (2010 and 2011) and the final at the '08 US Open.
As with past success, Murray's best chances will be exactly in these two majors.
Roger Federer is the all time record holder for major titles won, having captured 16.
In 2011 he went through his first season since 2003 without winning one of the four big ones.
His performance in the second semester—taking titles in Basel, Paris and in the World Tour Finals—helps alleviate some of the criticism he's received and creates healthy expectations for 2012.
Federer is not done and is still very dangerous. His best chances to winning majors in 2012 are the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open.
Rafael Nadal didn’t have his best year in 2011, although he was the only major winner other than Novak Djokovic, capturing his sixth title at Roland Garros.
A victim of the tough schedule, Rafa had a poor second semester and did nothing very significant.
Apart from the French Open title, the most noteworthy aspects of his season were his consistent losses to Novak Djokovic, even on clay, which was something new to the Spaniard.
Nevertheless, he is expected to come back strong in 2012 and is still the obvious favorite for Roland Garros, though he has proven to be strong on any surface.
Novak Djokovic had one of the best seasons ever played in the history of professional tennis in 2011.
He remarkably dominated the game, dethroning Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the kings the past 10 years or so.
He won three out of the four majors in 2011 and his only loss happened was versus Roger Federer in the French Open semifinal.
The eyes of the tennis world will be on him next year to see if he can repeat his amazing 2011.
Despite the health issues he had in the second semester, he is expected com come back strong and definitely win more majors.
His best chances are Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open.