ATP Year in Review: Rank 26-30

Pablo Carreno Busta ATP
WINSTON SALEM, NC - AUGUST 26: John Millman of Australia Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain in the semifinals of the Winston-Salem Open at Wake Forest University on August 26, 2016 in Winston Salem, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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 26-30.

26. Bernard Tomic

A year where the troublesome Australian simply failed to build on his previous success.

High Points

Reaching his first ATP 500 final in Acapulco stands out as a particular highlight in a disappointing year. Whilst opposition in the form of Rajeev Ram, Adrian Mannarino, Illya Marchenko and Alexandr Dolgopolov may not have been of the highest standard, to reach this level of final is another milestone ticked. Despite losing it, he pushed Dominic Thiem close in a three-set defeat.

Low Points

His behaviour at times has once again brought his attitude into question. Most notably, he was once again accused of tanking after attempting to return a match point serve from Fabio Fognini with the handle rather than the head of his racket in Madrid.

On the court he followed his run to the final of Acapulco by failing to win two consecutive matches in nine tournaments, including losing five in a row. He also crashed out of the US Open in the first round in four sets against Damir Dzumhur.

Other Highlights

Two wins over Kei Nishikori emerge as particularly strong results as well as a relatively decent grass court swing which saw him pick up seven wins from ten matches.

Outlook for 2017

A lot depends on how well the Australian applies himself. Whilst other youngsters around him are showing a burning desire to reach the top, his is still under question. His game needs another gear to really take him to the highest level. It would be unsurprisingly if he is in more or less the same position in twelve months time.

27. Albert Ramos-Vinolas

After starting the year ranked outside the top #50, the Spaniard had a very respectable year.

High Points

In his first full season focused solely on ATP level events, the Spaniard made his mark. Two ATP 250 final appearances were the real high points, especially on two separate surfaces. A first ATP trophy at the Swedish Open was a landmark moment in his career as he beat Fernando Verdasco. Losing to Karen Khachanov in a tight three set match in the final of the Chengdu Open may have seemed a disappointment at the time but it was another superb run from Ramos-Vinolas.

Low Points

His relative lack of experience at this level sometimes showed and his form was patchy to say the least. Although some draws were tough he suffered plenty of first round losses. A poor stretch in August and September saw him pick up just one win in five tournaments, including a first round loss to the relatively unknown Alexandre Sidorenko.

Other Highlights

A first Grand Slam quarter-final in Roland Garros was memorable, especially given who he beat. Not only did he come through a bruising five set match against America’s Jack Sock but he followed that up by destroying Milos Raonic in impressive fashion. Eventually he came unstuck against defending champion Stan Wawrinka.

Outlook for 2017

Albert Ramos-Vinolas is still finding his feet at the upper echelons of the ATP Tour. Now that he has crept inside the top #32, a ranking at Grand Slam’s should see him become more of a presence on the tour. He could certainly move into the top #20 in the coming year.

28. Viktor Troicki

Fell away after a fast start to the year. Could not build on a promising 2015.

High Points

The Serbian came flying out of the blocks in January, picking up his third ATP title in the process. Sydney was the sight of his triumph as he defeated Grigor Dimitrov in a topsy-turvy three set match. He followed that up with another final the week after the Australian Open, this time coming up just short against Roberto Bautista Agut in Sofia.

Low Points

Aside from the French Open, he had a woeful middle part of the year. After Rotterdam in mid-February, he held a record of 8-17 until his run to the semi-finals of Winston-Salem. Perhaps his most infamous moment of the year though came on the green grass of Wimbledon. The Serb launched a volley of abuse at umpire Dimiano Torella after he overturned a decision that had gone in his favour, setting up match point for his opponent. A certain Mr McEnroe would have been proud of Troicki’s choice of words.

Other Highlights

Won at least one match at every Grand Slam for only the third time in his career. He also finally broke a six match losing duct against Rafael Nadal when he beat him in straight sets in Shanghai.

Outlook for 2017

Viktor Troicki has been around for a number of years now and you feel like his chance of truly progressing towards the top #10 may be coming to an end. He has a host of ranking points to defend at the start of the year and may find himself unseeded by the time Roland Garros comes around.

29. Feliciano Lopez

Found more success on the doubles circuit as the 35-year-old enters the twilight years of his career. Joins Jack Sock and Pablo Carreno Busta as the only three players ranked inside the top #30 of both the singles and doubles tours.

High Points

His most notable success came on the doubles circuit where, alongside Marc Lopez (of no relation) he won the French Open title. That victory, alongside some other superb doubles results, lifted him to a career high ranking of #9 and secured them a spot at the ATP Tour Finals. On the singles circuit he also picked up his fifth title after defeating Robin Haase in Gstaad.

Low Points

Failed to win consecutive ATP matches after his run to the final of Los Cabos in August. Whilst most of these defeats were dished out by players ranked around or above him, they may be a sign that his age caused end of season fatigue. Did not make the quarter-final of either a Grand Slam or Masters event for only the third time in thirteen years.

Other Highlights

Balanced his time well between the singles and doubles circuit. Two singles finals and three doubles is a superb return for a 35-year-old and the big-serving Spaniard has demonstrated his staying power throughout the year. A victory over world #1 Novak Djokovic looks particularly pretty on the scorecard, even if the Serbian was suffering from an eye injury.

Outlook for 2017

The Spaniard will undoubtedly place even more emphasis on his serve as the clock continues to tick down on his career. It would be a surprise if we didn’t see him transfer more of his time towards the less strenuous doubles circuit. That said, do not be surprised to see him sneak a possible Grand Slam singles quarter-final into the fray just for good measure.

30. Pablo Carreno-Busta

A superb breakout year for the Spaniard who may find himself as the flag-bearer for Spanish tennis in years to come.

High Points

The 25-year-old not only made his first ATP final, but he followed it up by reaching another three throughout the year. He first lost to Pablo Cuevas in Sao Paulo before suffering the same result against compatriot Nicolas Almagro in Portugal. Not content with two runner-up trophies in his first full season he swept up two hard court trophies in Winston-Salem and Moscow during the second half of the year, securing his spot in the top #30.

Low Points

Grass. He just clearly doesn’t like it. Two matches, two losses, no sets won, for the second year in a row. If you’re going to be rubbish on a surface he probably picked the most sensible one but it will need work if he is to evolve into a more globally recognised player.

Other Highlights

Not only did he cause shockwaves on the singles circuit but he also made big moves on the doubles court. A runner-up trophy at the US Open alongside Guillermo Garcia-Lopez was a huge surprise and that kind of experience can only benefit him in the long run. Perhaps most impressive was that a lot of his major success came on hard courts, rather than his more favoured clay.

Outlook for 2017

A player well worth keeping an eye on in 2017. He made a huge leap up during this year and the onus is on whether he can, firstly maintain that level, and secondly develop even further. Where he is yet to really land any blows is at the Grand Slams and that is where we will most likely see a real improvement. This challenge will be aided by the fact that he will now probably be seeded. This will also probably be the year he claims his first top #10 scalp.

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