This offseason, Last Word On Tennis will be looking back at the seasons of the top 50 players on each tour. This installment includes the ATP 2016 players ranked 21-25.
ATP Year In Review: Rank 21-25
21: David Ferrer
This was his 16th season on tour. Ferrer started out as the 7th ranked player but the struggles with form saw him slip to 21st spot. He had an average season compared to his previous ones.
Surprisingly there aren’t a lot of things to mention here. The two most notable moments of the season according were beating Stan Wawrinka at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships and John Isner in the Round of 16 of the Australian Open. He made multiple semifinals at lower level tournaments in Auckland, Buenos Aires, Bastad, and Beijing. Reaching the quarterfinals at Australian Open was also a huge moment this season.
This year he failed to win any title. He lost to younger players like Dominic Thiem, Kyle Edmund, Illya Marchenko, and Lucas Pouille (multiple times). The lowest moment of the season was a surprise loss in the round of 32 to Evgeny Donskoy at the Olympic Games.
He played six Masters 1000 tournaments and the best results were making it to the Round of 16 in the Madrid and Rome Masters. In majors he reached Round of 16, 64, and 32 at French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open respectively.
22: Pablo Cuevas
The season was one to remember for Cuevas. He preduced a handful of convincing results. His ranking shot up from #41 to #22, thanks to a good overall performance for a player like him.
The biggest moment for Cuevas undoubtedly was beating Rafael Nadal in the semis of the Rio Open. That was one of the most memorable matches of the year and the one of the best he has ever played. He went on to win that tournament. He reached a career high ranking of #19 in August. Not just that but he also registered back to back wins at the Madrid Open against big guns like Phillip Kohlschreiber and Gael Monfils.
There weren’t many low points in my opinion except a couple. He lost in the first round of Wimbledon to a lower ranked player, Andrey Kuznetsov, in five sets. He could have made farther than that. The loss to Milos Raonic in the Paris Masters could have been a different story too. He lost after winning the first set and could have registered an upset there.
He won the Brasil Open in Sao Paolo. He made finals in Nottingham and Hamburg. His best Grand Slam result came at the Australian Open where he reached the round of 64.
23: Jack Sock
Sock had a pretty decent year in my opinion. He put up sporadic resistance throughout for some of the higher ranked players. 2016 saw him become the highest-ranked American player for a time. Also he reached his career high ranking (#22) in January this season.
The colossal moment of the season for him was him beating Milos Raonic in the Round of 16 at the Shanghai Rolex Masters, which meant his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal ever. He recorded one more massive win, the upset of 2014 Champion Marin Cilic at the US Open in straight sets. Sock made it to three finals, in Auckland, Houston, and Stockholm, but failed to win a title.
He could have performed better at majors. Early losses to lower ranked players like Lukas Rosol (Australian Open, round of 64) and Albert Ramos Vinolas (French Open, round of 32) were the low points. The unexpected loss at the Olympic Games to another low-ranked player, Taro Daniel, in the first round was also a low point.
He made one more Masters 1000 quarterfinal, at the Paris Masters. At the Auckland Open, he beat David Ferrer, registering the second Top 10 won of his career. At the Madrid Masters he beat Juan Martin Del Potro and Benoit Paire.
Sock produced some incredible results in doubles. He won two Olympic medals, with John Isner (Bronze) in men’s doubles and one with Bethanie Mattek-Sands (Gold) in mixed doubles. He also won the Shanghai Masters with Isner.
24: Alexander Zverev:
The more you appreciate him, the less shocking it seems. The German teen sensation had an outstanding 2016. He finished the year as the highest-ranked teenager. He was ranked #83 in January, rose to a career high #20 in October, and finished the season at #24.
With the season he had, it is hard to decide the best moment. I’d say it probably has to be him winning his first ATP Title in St Petersburg, where he recorded mammoth victories against Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka in the semis and final, respectively. This saw him become the youngest player in about eight years to win a title. In the Halle semifinals, he recorded the biggest win of his career to date. That came against his idol, Roger Federer, who struggled with injuries all season.
For a 19-year-old, I think he barely had a low point, except for the rough American Hard Court Summer where he lost prematurely to considerably lower-ranked players in first rounds of Toronto and Cincinnati Masters and second round of the US Open.
He won back to back matches against Isner and Cilic at the Shanghai Masters. He reached finals in Nice and Halle and made his first semifinal ever in Montpelier.
25: Gilles Simon:
Simon had a below-average year for him. His ranking fell from #15 to #32, but he rose back to #25. He didn’t win any titles or make it to the final of any tournament.
The most notable moment for the Frenchman was reaching the semifinals at the Shanghai Rolex Masters. He beat Stan Wawrinka round of 16 there but lost to Andy Murray in the semis. Simon also made it to the Round fo 16 at the Australian Open where he pushed Novak Djokovic to the limit. At one point it seemed like an upset was on the cards but he lost in five sets.
He suffered too many early losses in Majors and other tournaments. He could have been better there.
He reached the quarterfinals of the Miami Masters and semifinals of the Metz Open.
Other ATP Year in Reviews: