Racket sports by Charlie Garfinkel: Shaking up the men’s Top 10 - The Buffalo News

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Racket sports by Charlie Garfinkel: Shaking up the men’s Top 10

Looking at the top 10 men’s tennis players, what they’ve accomplished and projecting where they’ll be ranked at season’s end:

1. Novak Djokovic: 16,950 points. Age 29. The Serbian wunderkind shows no sign of slowing down. He has won 12 Grand Slam singles titles (including the Australian, French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open championships) and is a definite threat to surpass Roger Federer’s 17 Grand Slam singles championships in the next 2-3 years. Equally impressive is Djokovic’s ranking as the world’s number 1 player for the past 202 weeks.

Prediction: Djokovic will still be the world’s No. 1 player at the end of the year.

2. Andy Murray: 8,915 points. Age 29 Murray’s overall play has skyrocketed the past few years and he is a unanimous choice for the No. 2 ranking. The Englishman has won two Grand Slams, an Olympic title and was a Davis Cup champion. Murray’s court coverage is outstanding and he makes very few unforced errors. One of his most outstanding attributes is his uncanny ability to return serves that often reach 130 miles an hour.

Prediction: Murray will still be ranked No. 2 at the end.

3. Roger Federer: 6,655 points. Age 34. The superlative Swiss player has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles and is recognized by many as the greatest male player of all time. Unfortunately, he has been hindered by lingering injuries over the past two years.

Prediction: Federer will be ranked between Nos. 5-10 at the end of this year.

4. Rafael Nadal: 5,405 points. Age 30. Nadal, the winner of nine French Open singles titles, is unanimously recognized as the greatest clay court player of all time. After a prolonged slump he rebounded the last few months and was playing extremely well in the French Open until he hurt his wrist, forcing him out of the tournament. The wrist injury has also resulted in his skipping the upcoming Wimbldeon tournament.

Prediction: Will, like Federer, be ranked 5-10 at the end of this year.

5. Stan Wawrinka: 5,035 points. Age 31. The Swiss-based Wawrinka has won two Grand Slam singles titles, the 2014 Australian and 2015 French Open. His outstanding backhand and serve are always mentioned as his strongest weapons.

Prediction: Wawrinka will be in the 4-6 grouping at year’s end.

6. Kei Nishikori: 4,290 points. Age 26 - Nishikori is the only Japanese tennis player to be ranked in the top 10 in ATP singles. He was a 2014 U.S. Open finalist, becoming the first player from an Asian country to reach a Grand Slam singles final. In March of 2015 he reached a career high of No. 4 in the ATP rankings.

Prediction: Nishikori isn’t playing at the level he did two years ago andcould drop as low as No. 8.

7. Dominic Thiem: 3,105 points. Age 22. Remember this name. In the past year and a half Austria’s Thiem,r, Wawrinka, Marin Cilic, David Ferrer and John Isner among others. He has an awesome baseline game and elongated strokes on both the forehand and backhand sides.

Prediction: His meteoric rise will continue and he will be in the top 5 at year’s end.

8. Tomas Berdych: 3,030 points. Age 30. The Czech had his best tournament ever in 2010 when he defeated Federer and Djokovic in the quarter final and semifinal rounds of Wimbledon before losing to Nadal in the finals. He has also defeated Murray and other top players in a long career.

Prediction: Although it will be difficult he should retain an 8-10 spot.

9. Milos Raonic: 2,965 points - Age 25. Raonic, a 6-foot-5 Canadian, has had his serve clocked as high as 145 mph. Coupled with extremely hard hit groundstrokes and a solid net game, he has defeated such stars as Federer, Nadal, Murray and Wawrinka. In 2015, he rose to a career-high No. 4 on the ATP tour.

Prediction: This is a tough call. Can move back into the top five if he stays health. If not, he could drop out of the top 10.

10. Richard Gasquet: 2,905 points. Age 29. The Frenchman’s backhand is considered among the best on the tour. Gasquet had a terrific French Open last month. He defeated Nishikori in four sets and was 1-1 in sets with Murray before losing the last two sets badly.

Prediction: Gasquet’s ranking is tenuous ar best. Could fall to 12-15 at the end of the year.

Players to watch the rest of the year: David Goffin (Belgium), No. 11 in ATP rankings and Nick Kyrgios (Australia), No. 19 in ATP rankings.

Futures unfolds

The USTA Pro Circuit Sargent & Collins Men’s $10,000 Futures Tournament begins Saturday at Miller Tennis Center and will continue through Sunday, June 19. Daily play starts 11 a.m.

The field includes:

Gavin Van Peperzeel (Australia), currently ATP ranked No. 329; Evan King (USA), ranked No. 393, and back to defend his title, Uchida (Japan), ranked No. 421.

Peperzeel, 24, the top seed, reached a career high ATP ranking of No. 251 this past April and has won three Pro Circuit singles titles - in Serbia and Australia in 2015 and in Serbia in 2014. He has also captured 11 career doubles titles.

Local products Winston Lin and Tony Miller are also main-draw singles entrants. Last year, Lin, currently ranked No. 774 in the world, reached the semifinal round in this event. He is the fifth seed. Miller is currently a starter on the University at Buffalo tennis team and was a member of the 2015 MAC Tournament Championship team. Lin and Miller will also be playing doubles together.

Admission is free. For further information call 632-8600.

The Sargent & Collins Women’s $10,000 Championships ended last weekend with 17-year-old American Caroline Dolehide winning the singles title and the doubles crown with partner Ingrid Neel.

email: thegreatgar@verizon.net

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