12/14/12 7:01 AM | Ricky Dimon
There is no doubt that Milos Raonic's future is a ranking well inside the Top 10. It may happen in 2013, just as it could for several players ready to take their talents to the next level.
The Top 10 welcomed several newcomers throughout the 2012 ATP season, but none (unless Richard Gasquet is considered a newcomer in the midst of his career resurrection) sustained enough success to finish among the 10 best players in the world. Nicolas Almagro, John Isner, and Juan Monaco all flirted with the top of the charts only to wear down just a bit down the stretch.
While the real prize is a year-end Top 8 ranking for entry into the World Tour Finals, not as many spots in that elite group are up for grabs. But seeing a considerable amount of fluctuation at the tail-end of the Top 10 would not come as a big surprise.
A look at five Top 10 contenders--some who have been there before, others who have not:
Milos Raonic - Raonic's case is somewhat curious. On one hand, he loves the big stage in terms of facing marquee opponents (he compiled a 2-1 record vs. Andy Murray in 2012 and all three of his losses to Roger Federer went to at least 6-4 in the third, including two in third-set tiebreakers). But in terms of big tournaments, he doesn't love those as much. The Canadian has never made it past the fourth round of a major and he posted a modest 8-4 record at slams in 2012. Raonic is coming off a 45-win season (10th most on tour) and he is only getting better at 21 years old.
Kei Nishikori - Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. Almost five full years later, he is not yet even 23 (he will turn 23 two days before the start of the upcoming season). The Japanese sensation reached a career-high of No. 15 in the world and he currently registers at 19th. Nishikori has Aussie Open quarterfinal points to defend, but he should still be playing with confidence following the biggest triumph of his career this fall in Tokyo. The key, of course, is for the oft-injured Nishikori to stay healthy.
Marin Cilic - Cilic has gone through so many peaks and valleys (although none that have been particularly extreme) in his career that it feels like he's been around forever. Actually, he is just 24 years old and not turning 25 anytime soon. In the prime of his career, Cilic could be on the fast track to the Top 10. He has almost zero to defend until May and he missed the 2012 Australian Open altogether. There is no doubt the 15th-ranked Croat will get hot several times in 2013; the question is for how long can he sustain such hot streaks.
Juan Monaco - Monaco has a ton of points to defend from the end of March (Miami) until mid-July (Hamburg). But he has opportunities to gain ground at the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Monte-Carlo, and later at the U.S. Open. Because the 12th-ranked Argentine is such a capable and consistent performer on all surfaces (including indoor hard courts), he he may get back to the Top 10 and stay a lot longer than he did in 2012.
Tommy Haas - Haas has basically nothing to defend until May. Case in point: this March he was playing in a Challenger event...and he withdrew from said Challenger event due to injury. The German, ranked 21st, is 34 years old and although he cannot play forever, he is younger in tennis years than his true age suggests. This 2013 campaign is likely the last hurrah for Haas, but it could be a memorable one.
Find the latest tennis odds at Unibet.com
|1. Djokovic||12 500 pts|
|2. Murray||8 750 pts|
|3. Federer||8 670 pts|
|4. Ferrer||6 970 pts|
|5. Nadal||6 385 pts|
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