9: Stan Wawrinka
The 32 year old Swiss Grand Slam champion went 26-11 in a respectable season on the ATP Tour. His season was cut short when he announced in August that he had a knee injury, and after surgery, he was able to return to practice this Winter and looks set to start fit and roaring to go in 2018. Wawrinka’s season was short but effective as he reached the semis in Melbourne, where he was foiled by Roger Federer, he then reached the final in Indian Wells also losing to Federer. Wawrinka’s best success came on clay, he won Geneva on home soil and then reached the French Open final where he was decimated by Rafael Nadal. Since 2015 Wawrinka has reached the semis or better in Paris, prior to that, his best result was the quarterfinals.
The biggest question for Wawrinka is going to be fitness, at 32 he’s not near as spry as he once was, but he continues to be lethal with his groundstrokes. Can he maintain top 10 results in 2018?
8: Jack Sock
Jack Sock had a career year in 2017, he went 38-21, his best season ever on tour, and captured three ATP titles, including his best ever championship, the Paris Masters at the end of the season. At 25 Sock has not only cemented himself as the best American man on the ATP Tour, he also has a credible shot at establishing himself at the top 5 if he can get more consistent and win more matches against elite competition.
Sock opened 2017 with a title in Auckland, he added to his trophy case with another 250 in Delray Beach, reached the semis in Indian Wells, where he beat Nishikori and Dimitrov en route, and the quarters in Miami. Sock lost a big opportunity to pick up points in Paris and London, losing early at both RG and Wimbledon, he also had a terrible North American summer, disappointing supporters with an opening round US Open loss, and just a lone win in the 2 hard court summer Masters tournaments. Sock went on to redeem himself at the Paris Masters, and the World Tour Finals, where he reached the semis. Marin Cilic and Alexander Zverev both fell at his hands at the end of the season. Now Sock hopes to carry that momentum into 2018.
7: David Goffin
A valiant effort for his country wasn’t enough, as Goffin’s Belgium lost in the Davis Cup final to France despite his strong results. Despite that bitter defeat it was a great 2017 for the undersized Belgian ballstriker, Goffin won more than 55 matches at age 27, reaching 3 ATP finals, and winning a pair of ATP titles in Asia (Tokyo and Shenzhen). Goffin missed the grass court season but was good on all surfaces, he reached the second week in both Melbourne and New York, and made solid runs on clay in Monte Carlo and Madrid among other highlights. Goffin’s game probably has a certain limit, but he could sneak into the top 5 for at least part of 2018. Goffin beat Djokovic, Federer, Thiem, and Nadal in 2017, showing he can truly hang with the best.
6: Marin Cilic
Marin Cilic post another solid season in 2017 and benefited from the injuries and decline of some other big names who are also Grand Slam champions, his 42-22 record included a single title in Istanbul, 2 finals on grass, including the Wimbledon final, and the quarterfinals at Roland Garros. Cilic probably should have won more titles in 2017, but his run at Wimbledon shows he remains a dangerous lurker who can make a run when he’s in form. I don’t see Cilic making a big leap in 2018 but maintaining a place in the top 10 would be a good result for him.