Season Review of ATP Players Ranked #31- 40: Including Evans, Hurkacz, and Sinner

After previously reviewing the ATP players who finished the year ranked in the 41-50 ranking spots, we now take a look at those who achieved a ranking between 31-40 to end the shortened tennis season.

#31 – Filip Krajinovic

Win/loss record (tour-level matches): 16-12                                                                                                                                       2019 rank: #40 (+9)

Level-wise it was a pretty good season for the Serbian, especially in the February European indoor swing and right after the restart. He scored the second top 10 win of his career by demolishing Dominic Thiem in Cincinnati and made two tour-level semifinals (Montpellier and Rotterdam). Despite a shortened season, he upped his ranking by nine places and further solidified his position in the top 40.

What brings it down a lot is a very weak finish and once again, underperforming in the big matches and pressure situations. Krajinovic ended the season with a losing streak of five matches, and while two were to Novak Djokovic, all of Steve Johnson, Feliciano Lopez, and Nikola Milojevic came into these matches as huge underdogs. In Vienna, he was the better player in the first set against the world no.1 but checked out mentally on wasn’t able to convert his chances. Not serving out the match against Milos Raonic in Cincinnati quarterfinals is an opportunity that will haunt him. When many expected him to upset David Goffin at the US Open, he pulled pretty much a no-show. Not a spectacular season by any means but another solid one that proves he is one of the best players who haven’t won an ATP title yet.

#32 – Daniel Evans

Win/loss record: 19-14                                                                                                                                                                      2019 rank: #42 (+10)

Another one of these who deserves to win a tour-level title is Dan Evans. His ranking would really benefit if it was only 2020 points in the equation. It was arguably the Brit’s most consistent season thus far, making good results in all the parts of the season. Highlights? Semifinal appearances in Dubai, Vienna, and Antwerp. The best chance came in the latter against Ugo Humbert but Evans was unable to convert four match points in the second set tie-break. Making his third final (and potentially winning one) could have really taken his 2020 performance to another level.

As it stands, the big flaw is his performance in Grand Slams. Kei Nishikori at Roland Garros could be excused but Yoshihito Nishioka and Corentin Moutet, in this form on hard court, should definitely be beatable for the Brit. Without reading much into it and making claims that his tricky all-court game may be easier to face with more time to adjust in a best-of-five, this is just something that Evans will have to work on in 2021 if he is to advance further up the rankings.

#33 – Lorenzo Sonego

Win/loss record – 12-14                                                                                                                                                                   2019 rank: #52 (+19)

How did Lorenzo Sonego make such a jump while losing more matches than he won this season? It’s all about the timing – big runs at Roland Garros and Vienna saw him earn enough, plus he also got to keep his last year’s Antalya points (he was a champion there in 2019). Something to work on? A total of eight first-round losses in fourteen events is way too many, although five of them were actually in January/February. Sonego did well to overcome the initial disappointments though and made sure he would be recognized as a serious threat.

At Roland Garros it was more about taking the opportunity that presented itself as Sonego defeated Alexander Bublik and Taylor Fritz on the way to the fourth round. Neither of these excel on clay and he was no match to the eventual semifinalist, Diego Schwartzman. Vienna was an entirely different case though. As a lucky loser, Sonego took down Lajovic, Hurkacz, Djokovic, and Evans to make the finals. The blowout 6-2 6-1 win over the world no.1 was his first top 10 victory and perhaps the best moment of his professional career. There’s definitely some momentum there to kick off the new season well this time.

#34 – Hubert Hurkacz

Win/loss record – 15-13                                                                                                                                                                    2019 rank – 37 (+3)

Some really mixed feelings here. After the ATP Cup, where he defeated Thiem, Coric, and Schwartzman, it was hard to keep oneself from getting overly excited about the young Pole’s upcoming season. Nothing wrong with a semifinal appearance in Auckland either, although there surely was appetite for more. These runs seemed to have taken a lot out of him though as Hurkacz arrived in Melbourne looking gassed. It was all downhill from there and up until the end of the season it was just a glimpse of his talent here or there.

Hurkacz made just one more quarterfinal in Cologne, getting worn out by Roberto Bautista Agut in three sets. The Pole remains a huge threat on his day but it rarely happened for him, especially in the latter part of the season. Another huge stain on his record is his performance in Grand Slams. Second-round exits to Millman and Davidovich Fokina plus a first-round defeat to Sandgren at the French Open. Performing at the biggest events has been a struggle for Hurkacz and he needs to reverse that trend if he is to show that he’s of quite the calibre that some consider it to be. At least his season ended on a very positive note, with a miraculous run to the doubles title in Paris alongside Felix Auger-Aliassime.

#35 – Adrian Mannarino

Win/loss record – 13-17                                                                                                                                                                    2019 rank – 43 (+8)

It was a rather quiet season for the Frenchman, who seems to be a player that really knows his place in the scheme of things by now. Since 2013, Adrian Mannarino has finished each season ranked between 28 and 60 and it looks like he’s there to stay. The big highlight of the season has to be a runner-up appearance in Nur-Sultan. While Mannarino finally got that pressure off him last year and won his first ATP title (after losing the previous six championship matches), the Frenchman keeps underperforming in the finals. In March, Mannarino went back to the ATP Challenger Tour circuit, absolutely dominating the week in Monterrey and proving his superior quality over the players from men’s tennis’ second-tier.

A total of ten opening round losses will be something Mannarino would like to forget about but there are silver linings there. Towards the end of the season, the Frenchman finally caught some consistency, winning at least two matches in four consecutive events. Mannarino has a pretty awful (5-40) win/loss record against top 10 players in his career and it continued to drag him down this year. The 32-year-old lost all five matches he played against such opponents, including three to Alexander Zverev. It seems like the Frenchman might be either at or already past his tennis peak.

#36 – Jan-Lennard Struff

Win/loss record – 15-15                                                                                                                                                                          2019 rank – 35 (-1)

Like Krajinovic and Evans, Jan-Lennard Struff is yet to win an ATP title. In fact, despite having been a top 100 mainstay for the past 6-7 years, the German hasn’t made a single ATP final yet. He didn’t come anywhere close to achieving these goals in 2020, making just two quarterfinals (Dubai and Cincinnati). The brightest moments of his season came right after the restart when he was playing some of the best tennis of his career in Cincinnati and at the US Open. The German took great wins over Shapovalov and Goffin but was unfortunate to run into Novak Djokovic both times. However, it looked like Struff could be a real threat for the indoor season.

But by the time October rolled around, all that momentum was already gone. In five indoor events, Struff managed to take just two wins, including some disappointing losses like to Oscar Otte or Yoshihito Nishioka. The German seems to keep developing but time isn’t flying by any slower, so if the 30-year-old is to really take his game to the next level then the 2021 season would be the perfect opportunity.

#37 – Jannik Sinner

Win/loss record – 19-11                                                                                                                                                                      2019 rank – 78 (+41)

And here’s a player that will most certainly be extremely satisfied with this season. Jannik Sinner grabbed three top 10 wins (Goffin, Tsitsipas, Zverev) and a first ATP title in Sofia. While some of his losses early in the year raised doubts about how quick his path to the top of the game will be, the real breakthrough came during the clay court season. A good run at the Italian Open gave him momentum to succeed at the French Open and at just 19, Sinner made his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

He even served for the first set against Rafael Nadal and who knows what would have happened had he converted it?  The indoor season saw Sinner make one more semifinal at Cologne and grab his maiden tour-level title. It would be a real surprise if Sinner found himself ranked lower than #37 this time next year. It looks like the only way from here is up for the Italian youngster.

#38 – John Millman

Win/loss record –  18-13                                                                                                                                                                           2019 rank – 48 (+10)

A third straight top 10 finish for the Australian, who remains an extremely solid competitor and a nightmare to play against. Roger Federer almost slipped on that banana skin at the first Grand Slam of the year, only coming back from 4-8 in the deciding tie-break. Millman made just three quarterfinals all season but he made the most out of one of the opportunities. Having made two ATP finals before, Millman was one of the players still seeking their first tour-level titles.

It all changed at the new ATP event in Nur-Sultan. The path to the final was no bed of roses, especially in the quarterfinal against Tommy Paul. The American led 5-2 in the third set, wasted two match points on serve and lost another lead of 5-0 in the deciding tie-break. Millman’s confidence skyrocketed after that one and he rode it all the way to the title. This one run changed his 2020 season from just another solid one to really, really memorable.

#39 – Reilly Opelka

Win/loss record – 12-7                                                                                                                                                                        2019 rank – 36 (-3)

Despite losing three spots in the rankings, for the most part it was actually a very good year for Opelka. American events in February remain his best hunting ground as he managed to take the second title of his career in Delray Beach. He was also playing great in Cincinnati after the restart, taking out Diego Schwartzman and Matteo Berrettini. Sadly, he injured himself in the quarterfinals against Stefanos Tsitsipas and never really got back to the same heights.

Aside from lacking results in the later European indoor season, one clear weakness was the slams. In his defense – the draws were quite tough (Sock, Goffin, Fognini). But you’d still expect more from the big-serving American given his performances during the rest of the season. Perhaps improving his ranking to a one that grants you seedings for the Grand Slams should be his next (and certainly achievable) goal right now.

#40 – Nikoloz Basilashvili

Win/loss record – 4-14                                                                                                                                                                    2019 rank – 26 (-14)

Oh, well. The win/loss record kinda speaks for itself there and Basilashvili would be ranked so much lower if most of this 2019 points hadn’t stuck around. In fact, the number of points that the Georgian amassed during this year would situate him around no. 280 in the ATP Rankings. It also wasn’t a great year on the personal field – his wife accused him of domestic abuse in front of a minor and while he denies the charges, the case remains unresolved and he could face prison time.

Any positives? A top 50 win over Pablo Cuevas at the ATP Cup, winning four matches before the pandemic. After the restart (and getting sued by his wife), the Georgian was able to nick just one set in nine matches. Can Basilashvili come back stronger next year? It definitely seems like a break can only do him good. He is known for being erratic and up and down but this year we’ve seen just the latter.

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