For ATP players ranked 16-20 including Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic, following is the year end review. You can check out the 21-29 ranking spots here.
20: Marco Cecchinato
For Cecchinato, 2018 was the year to remember. The Italian won both of his career titles during this year. He made a run to the semifinals of French Open. As a result, he saw a tremendous jump in his ranking, from #109 to #20.
He won his first title as a lucky loser at Hungarian Open in April. After that he played the French Open. It was arguably the best tournament of his career to date. He made an inspiring run to the semifinals by beating back-to-back seeds #10 Pablo Carreño Busta and #7 David Goffin in third and fourth round respectively. In the quarterfinals, he put up a sensational performance as he stunned former champion, Novak Djokovic. Cecchinato was in his zone throughout that match. And that arguably was the highest point of his season. After that, he fell against Dominic Thiem in the semifinals (who was having an inspiring run of his own).
As a result of making it to the second week of a major, he had the reward in his bag. His ranking rose from #72 to #27 in matter of just two weeks. In July, he won second title of his career at the Croatia Open.
Later, in October he reached his highest ranking of #19, owing to the round of 16 run at the Shanghai Masters. Cecchinato eventually finished the season as #20.
In this stellar season, there were barely any low points for him. The only disappointment came by losing in the first round of Wimbledon, where he received seeding for the first time ever. He also lost in the first round of US Open.
19: Grigor Dimitrov
After finishing his 2017 season by winning the year end championships, it looked like that “Baby Fed” might pose a huge threat in the 2018 season. It seemed like he would produce somewhat Federer-like results. But it was a below par season for the Bulgarian. He struggled throughout and seemingly could not execute his plans the way he could have.
Surprisingly, there is not a lot to mention here. This was one of his most disappointing seasons ever. The only high points of his season came when he reached the finals of Rotterdam Open in February. There he lost to eventual champion Roger Federer. And in April, he reached the semi-finals of Monte Carlo Masters by beating 10th seed David Goffin. But in the next match, he lost to Rafael Nadal. He somehow managed to stay in top-10 until the end of October, despite a poor season.
For Dimitrov, the season was filled with comparatively poorer results as he failed to defend his titles in Brisbane, Sofia and Cincinnati. At majority of the tournaments, he got eliminated at very early stages.
He faced first round exit at Wimbledon. The struggle continued at majors. He also lost in the first round of US Open. Both these losses came by the hands of Stan Wawrinka. And due to poor performances, he failed to qualify for the year ending championships. As a result, he failed to defend his title and his ranking fell by 9 spots within a week.
Represented Team Europe at the Laver Cup in September.
18: Milos Raonic
Raonic had a rather moderate 2018 season. Once deemed as a huge threat to the top order, he failed to win a title this year. He made only one final. But somehow, he managed to put a disappointing end to 2017 behind him and produced satisfactory results at big stages.
The former World #3 fell to #24 at the end of last year. This year he managed to produce some good tennis. As a result, he gained a few spots and ended the year as #18.
Raonic made it to the semi-final of the Indian Wells Open and quarter-final of the Miami Open in March. He lost to Juan Martin Del Potro on both occasions. But he showed great resilience in the Miami match. He did not make it easy for Del Potro. In two out of three Clay Court Masters tournaments, he made to the Round of 16. In June he played a fantastic tournament and made it to the finals of Stuttgart Open without dropping a set. But he was beaten by Federer in straight sets.
Carrying that inspiration, at Wimbledon he made it to the quarter-final. He was defeated by John Isner in four sets in a close encounter. Post the grass court season, Raonic had a moderate North American Hard Court swing. He made it to the quarter-finals of Cincinnati Open and Round of 16 at US Open.
Losing in the first round of Australian Open and withdrawing from French Open were the two biggest disappointments for the Canadian. Also, unexpected losses at early stages of tournaments like Brisbane Open, Toronto Open and Shanghai Open were a setback. He ended his season by withdrawing from the Paris Masters.
17: Diego Schwartzman
The first half of the season was extremely successful for Schwartzman. He won the biggest title of his career, saw a rapid rise in his rankings. He made it to the quarter-finals at the French Open. Thanks to that, the Argentine reached a career high ranking of #11.
Schwartzman began the season on a high by reaching the Round of 16 at the Australian Open. He lost to Nadal in four sets. Following month he played some exceptional tennis to win the Rio Open, without dropping a set. He beat Fernando Verdasco in the final. As a result, the Argentine, on his best surface, earned the biggest title of his career.
Few months later came a monumental achievement for him. At the French Open, he beat Kevin Anderson in five sets in the Round of 16. In the match, he came back from two-sets-to-love down. In the quarter-final, he played against Nadal. And to everyone’s surprise, he took the first set off Rafa. For a brief period, it appeared like Schwartzman could do the impossible. But he lost the next three sets. This sensational run shot his ranking up. He almost broke into the top-10 as he reached at a career high of #11. This meant that he gained 15 ranking spots from January.
Post his feat at the French Open, the season was somewhat average. He lost during at the early stages of most tournaments. As a result, his ranking dipped. He finished the season at the Paris Masters (l. to Alexander Zverev in Round of 16) at #17.
He represented Argentina at the Davis Cup World Group Playoffs. Also represented Team World at the Laver Cup.
16: Daniil Medvedev
This was the best season for the 22-year old. He won 3 titles and 43 matches overall, including qualifying rounds at the tournaments. He was ranked at #84 in the second week of January. But a good form throughout the season, especially during the second half, saw him finish at #16.
He won the first tournament of the year at the Sydney Open in January. He beat fellow young gun Alex de Minaur in the final. His next best performance came in August. He won his second title at Winston Salem Open. Three tournaments later, Medvedev played the best tournament of his career at the Tokyo Open.
He won that tournament, without dropping a set in the main draw matches. En route the final, he beat Diego Schwartzman, Milos Raonic and Denis Shapovalov. In the final, he registered the biggest win of his career. It came against local hero Kei Nishikori. After that he reached back-to-back semifinals at Kremlin Cup and Swiss Indoors Basel. His runs were ended by Karen Khachanov and Roger Federer respectively.
There isn’t a lot to mention here for the Russian except for a couple of matches. At the Miami Open, he was up a set against Alexander Zverev but lost the match. And, at St. Petersburg Open, he was a up a set against Dominic Thiem, but lost that match too. The already fantastic season would’ve been more decorated if those matches would’ve gone his way.