The season has come to a close with the Australian summer on our doorstep and a Grand Slam approximately 7 weeks away.
We have our year ending top 10’s on the ATP and WTA tour, and those rankings are always a good reflection of reality but at the same time it’s hard for them to be definitive.
Rankings measure points, volume of victories and defence of previous good runs, with injuries, one poor slam or in the case of Novak Djokovic, a mandate led absence contributing factors in players sliding.
Matteo Berrettini is another case in point, having missed one major with illness before coming back under prepared for the next.
Alexander Zverev is another, with his injury at a critical stage of the French Open ruining his season.
The top 10 on the ATP Tour to end the season is as follows.
Rune, Zverev, Sinner, Kyrgios, Carreno-Busta, Norrie, Berrettini, Cilic, Shapovalov and Tiafoe sit just outside of that group.
But what if we ranked a “live” top 10 based on who are the best players in the world? If you lined them up against the wall in the school yard, in what order would you pick them?
This is our top 10 on the ATP Tour:
1.DJOKOVIC- Won Wimbledon and received no points, only stopped by Rafa in Paris, won the ATP Finals and missed both hard court slams yet stayed in the top 5. Still clearly the player to beat when he enters any event.
Went 26-2 after his French Open quarter-final loss to Nadal.
2.ALCARAZ- Maiden Grand Slam title as a teenager, beat Nadal and Djokovic in the same event. 5 titles for the year, destined to be the next megastar of the sport.
3. NADAL- Back end of the year not as strong due to injury and form, but 2 slams and his extraordinary mental strength in big matches and big moments still sits him ahead of some of the younger brigade who haven’t proven that yet. Would consider him one of the players to beat anytime he enters an event.
4. FELIX AUGER ALIASSIME- Maybe controversial but 17 wins in a row to finish the year, including 3 straight titles (first player in a decade), wins over Nadal and Djokovic and guided Canada to victory in the Davis Cup. Serving machine (Held serve in 92 straight games Oct-Nov). Wasn’t super in the Slams but confident that will change.
5. RUNE- Coming with a bullet. Great run at the French Open and a terrific Paris Masters win over Djokovic. In Paris he beat Hurkacz, Rublev, Wawrinka, Alcaraz, Felix and Djokovic in consecutive matches, 4 in a row v top 10. Made 4 straight finals to finish the year.
6. MEDEVEDEV- Had a strange season, losing a lot of big matches and big moments in the wake of his devastating Australian Open final defeat. The edge came off him just a fraction, but he still seems very capable of hitting back. When in a good serving rhythm, he can be nearly impossible to beat.
7.RUUD – 4 major finals in one year, 2 of them in Slams and another in the ATP Finals. Picked up just 1 set in those 4 finals but was getting beaten only by the very best (Alcaraz, Nadal, Djokovic). Had a season every bit as consistent as the superstars above, but can he squeeze out another 5% and lift a big crown?
8.SINNER- Had a really solid year across the majors and missed a big chance to defeat Djokovic at Wimbledon after claiming the first 2 sets. Didn’t play much after the US Open but had a consistent season and has the weapons to do damage.
9. TSITSIPAS- Still playing and winning a lot of matches as one of the tour’s busiest players but feel his level in majors and big tournaments isn’t quite where he’d like it to be. Still a fine player but hasn’t perhaps matched the heights of those above him just yet.
10. RUBLEV- Has hit a Grand Slam quarter-final roadblock but is only losing to very good players. Appears to have overcome a brief period where he stagnated as a player and wins over Medvedev and Tsitsipas in the ATP finals were very encouraging.
Kyrgios had the best year of his career so far, Fritz teased with breaking through at Wimbledon, Tiafoe had a good second half of the near, Carreno-Busta kept winning matches and Norrie had a solid campaign.
Berrettini and Zverev were cruelled by injuries and would figure more prominently in this list if we saw more of them, however both, and in particular Zverev have some queries deep in slams and in big match ups.
On the Women’s side we again have a very even spread behind the clear front runner in Swiatek, who picked up in the Barty wake.
WTA (ACTUAL TOP 10)
This is a look at our live top 10.
1.SWIATEK - Clearly. French Open and US Open champion, 8 WTA Titles including 4 masters 1000 events. The best winning streak this century, and a bakery full of Bagels and Breadsticks. Absolute superstar who seems destined to rule the roost.
2.GARCIA - Steadily improved as the year went on and came home like a steam train. Became the most effective server on tour and grew in confidence with a bold US Open run to the semi-finals. Won titles in Warsaw and Cincinnati before claiming the Tour Finals in outstanding fashion. Andy Murray was right!
3.SABALENKA - In 2021 she was the player who caused Barty the most problems, and in 2022 she started to do the same with Swiatek. Kept getting closer to Iga with each match before toppling her in the WTA finals. Serve was all over the shop early in the year with double faults galore but when she gets into a rhythm she is an incredible ball striker.
4.JABEUR - Similar to Casper Ruud in that she kept finding 1-2 better at key moments but had a tremendous year. Made 5 finals for the year, 2 of them in slams and she reached deciders on grass, clay and hard courts. Went 2-5 against players ranked top 5 for the season.
5.KREJCIKOVA - Again controversial but loved her finish to the season after injuries had hit her. Missed 3 months in the middle of the year but steadily built her form on return. Won 10 in a row across September/October and picked up back-to-back titles. Beat Swiatek in possibly the match of the season in Ostrava.
6.PEGULA - Was the second most consistent performer at majors for the year behind Swiatek. Was 3-12 against players in the top 10 for the year and the only reason she slides a fraction is a slight query on her ceiling.
7.SAKKARI - Made 4 finals for the year but lost them all. Indian Wells was the best of them, where she went down to Swiatek.
Was tracking brilliantly at the end of 2021 but her run at majors this year was a little underwhelming. Did finish the year well with back-to-back finals leading into the tour ending event where she won all 3 round robin matches.
8.GAUFF - A lot of this is still because of potential, but the French Open run does show where she can get to.
Broke into the official top 10, made a grand slam final but would be disappointed with her WTA Finals performance where she went winless, and her reduced consistency in the second half of the year. That will likely come and when it does, she is comfortably in the top bracket of players.
9.RYBAKINA - A fascinating player. Looked unstoppable at Wimbledon, particularly on serve, but needs to make that the norm going forward.
Played well in Cincinnati, Portoroz and Ostrava to end the season but did join the unwanted club of losing in the first round of the next major you play after winning one.
10.HADDAD MAIA - Came from the clouds in the last 18 months and now needs to translate that into slams. Across May/June she won 24 of 26 matches, which included 4 titles and both Wimbledon lead up events (Birmingham and Nottingham). Also a finalist in Toronto and played very well in the BJK Cup. A late bloomer who should kick on.
Others who were close include Badosa who dropped away a fraction with injury and form, Bencic who struggled in the majors but finished the year well, Collins who has had injuries, Kasatkina, Kudermetova and Halep (who is facing suspension).