Season Review of ATP Players Ranked 41-50: Including Kyrgios, Cilic and Nishikori

Kei Nishkori 2020 French Open

While the 2020 tennis season was heavily disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, the year-end rankings still contain some surprises. The 10 spots from 41-50 in the ATP rankings feature a diverse variety of players – including Grand Slam champions and finalists.

Here is a review of the 2020 season for each ATP player ranked from 41 to 50:

41. Kei Nishikori

Little can be taken from Kei Nishikori’s 2020 campaign, given he played just six matches (2-4 record) due to being plagued by injuries and illness. Having had elbow surgery, the Japanese former world #4 was set to return at the 2020 US Open, but he was forced to withdraw after testing positive for Covid-19. Nishikori finally played his first event since the 2019 US Open – after which he was still ranked #8 – at the ATP 250 in Kitzbuhel in September. He fell in the opening round.

The 30-year-old then reached the second round at the Rome Masters, before losing in the first round at the Hamburg ATP 500. Nishikori then played at the French Open – starting with a gruelling five-set win against Dan Evans in the first round. He then fell in another five-setter to Stefano Travaglia in Round 2 – during which he injured his right shoulder, ending his torrid season. With better injury luck, Nishikori can work back towards the top 10 by the end of 2021. Being healthy for a home Olympic Games in Tokyo will surely be a big priority.

42. Marin Cilic

Given Marin Cilic’s stellar past achievements, this can only be viewed as a bad year for the Croatian. The 2014 US Open champion and two-time Grand Slam runner-up posted a 14-12 record. He lost in the first round at five events and did not reach a single quarterfinal. Cilic’s best results came at the Grand Slams and Masters 1000 events. The 32-year-old reached the fourth round of the Australian Open, and the third round at the US Open, the Rome Masters, and the Paris Masters.

While Cilic’s serve has been a major strength throughout his career, his second serve was a big issue this year. The Croatian won just 48.8% of points behind his second delivery (69th best out of 87 players), and averaged 4.6 double faults per match (joint-sixth worst). Cilic, who reached a career-high ranking of #3 in 2018 – is capable of so much more. The 32-year-old can return to the top 20 or higher next year, if he can rediscover the confidence he seemed to lose during 2019 – which he finished ranked #39.

43. Guido Pella

Guido Pella endured a slightly disappointing season, ending with a 7-10 record. The Argentine left-hander made a solid start by winning two of his four ATP Cup matches, and reaching the third round of the Australian Open. His best result of the year then came in February – where he reached the quarter-finals of the Buenos Aires ATP 250.

The 30-year-old, however, only made it past the first round at two of the other six events he entered – the French Open and Kitzbuhel. While Pella played just nine matches on his preferred clay – he won only three. The Argentine reached a career-high spot of #20 in August 2019 and finished the year at #25. Pella’s ranking would have likely stayed closer to that number given a fuller quota of clay-court tournaments, which there may be next year.

44. Miomir Kecmanovic

Miomir Kecmanovic had a very positive 2020 campaign, finishing with an impressive 17-12 record. The 21-year-old won his first tour-level title in Kitzbuhel – beating Yannick Hanfmann in the final. He peaked at a career-high ranking of #39 after that victory in September and ended with a steady improvement on his 2019 year-end spot of #59. The Serbian also made the semi-finals at the ATP 250 events in Doha and New York at the start of the year.

Kecmanovic’s results at the Grand Slams and Masters 1000 events – where he had a combined 2-5 record – is one area for improvement. A significant number of his defeats at all tournaments, though, came against quality and higher-ranked opposition. The talented 21-year-old – who possesses a well balanced game – will surely continue his progress in 2021. At his current trajectory, the top 30 is a realistic destination for Kecmanovic in the near future.

45. Nick Kyrgios

Not too much can be concluded from Nick Krygios’s season given how little he played. He posted a 6-3 record across the three events he featured in – all prior to the tour suspension. The Aussie won three of his four singles matches at the ATP Cup, before reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open. In Melbourne, Kyrgios beat Karen Khachanov in an epic four-hour-and-24-minute five-setter in the third round. The 25-year-old then pushed Rafael Nadal in a four-set fourth round loss.

At his most recent event in Acapulco, Kyrgios retired after losing the first set of his first round match against Ugo Humbert. The Aussie’s performances at the tournaments in his home country were impressive and saw him climb to a ranking of #20 in February – his highest since 2018. There is no doubt Kyrgios can reach, and surpass, that level again – if and when he resumes playing regularly.

46. Albert Ramos-Vinolas

Albert Ramos-Vinolas had a slightly sub par 2020 season – with his 9-14 (39.1%) record below his career win rate of 47.1%. The 32-year-old made a good start – reaching quarterfinals at ATP 250 tournaments in Adelaide and Cordoba. The Spaniard’s best result then followed at the ATP 250 event in Santiago – where he fell in the semifinals to Casper Ruud. He held a healthy 7-6 record before the shutdown, but posted a poor 2-8 ratio after the return.

Ramos-Vinolas’s 7-10 record on his favoured clay is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of his year. He did, though, miss out on a large portion of the European clay-court swing due to cancellations. The Spaniard reached a career-high ranking of #17 shortly after making the 2017 Monte Carlo Masters final. The 32-year-old is unlikely to scale those heights again, but he could return to the top 40 with a slight improvement in 2021.

47. Richard Gasquet

Former world #7 Richard Gasquet finished a solid but injury-hit year with a 10-10 record. The 34-year-old started his season in February after recovering from a knee injury. At his first tournament back in Montpellier, Gasquet was forced to retire during his quarterfinal against Vasek Pospisil with a groin injury. He also made the quarterfinals in Dubai later that month.

After the shutdown, the Frenchman was unable to win consecutive matches until his final tournament in Sofia. At the ATP 250 event, Gasquet achieved his best 2020 result by reaching the semifinals – where he lost to Pospisil. He went 1-2 at Grand Slams and 2-2 at Masters 1000 tournaments. Gasquet finished above his 2019 year-end spot of #61 and, given his age and injury troubles, performed pretty well in a shortened year. If the 34-year-old can stay healthy, he can still return to the top 30.

48. Kyle Edmund

Kyle Edmund had a decent 2020 season, posting a 10-9 record. The 25-year-old had a strong start to the year by winning the New York Open in February – beating Andreas Seppi in the final. Edmund also reached the quarterfinals in Auckland and Acapulco before the tour suspension. The Brit’s momentum was disrupted and he lost six of his seven matches after the resumption in August.

Edmund’s record at the four big events he played in 2020 (Australian Open, US Open, Rome, and the Western and Southern Open) was below par – as he only made it past the first round at the US Open. He did, though, produce a positive display in a four-set loss to Novak Djokovic in New York. It was ultimately a better year for Edmund than 2019, which he ended ranked #69. With what should be a fuller 2021 calendar, Edmund could be much closer to his career-high ranking of #14 this time next year if he rediscovers his early 2020 form.

49. Tennys Sandgren

Tennys Sandgren had a 2020 campaign of highs and lows, finishing with a 8-13 record. Four of his wins came in his excellent run to the Australian Open quarterfinals – where he lost to Roger Federer after having had seven match points. This – along with his run to the same stage of the 2018 Australian Open – is Sandgren’s joint best Grand Slam performance. His next best result of the year was making the third round at the Western and Southern Open in New York.

Aside from his two good showings at big events, Sandgren’s year was disappointing. The American won a four-hour-and-38-minute five-set marathon against Hubert Hurkacz in the first round of the French Open. Following that, though, he finished 2020 with five straight losses. The 29-year-old fell in the first round at nine events in total, underlining his inconsistency. Sandgren finished slightly short of his career-high ranking of #41.

50. Alexander Bublik

Alexander Bublik ended a solid but unspectacular year with a 14-16 record. The 23-year-old reached a career-high ranking of #47 in February after making the semifinals at the ATP 250 in Marseille – his best result of the season. He also made the quarterfinals in Hamburg in September.

Bublik’s results at the big tournaments were poor. He fell in the first round at both the Australian Open and the US Open, as well as in all three Masters 1000 events held. The Russian-born representative of Kazakhstan did reach the second round of the French Open after beating Gael Monfils – his first win against a top 10 opponent. Despite Bublik revealing that he “hates tennis”, the talented and entertaining 23-year-old is certainly capable of building on his top 50 finish.

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