Big things were expected from the emerging trifecta of Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov heading into 2015. They all made great strides in 2014, and seemed poised to take the next step this year. While they all had decent Australian Opens, it looks like 2015 might be more of the same for this threesome, as opposed to another big step forward.
Kei Nishikori: There's nothing wrong per se with Nishikori merely making the quarterfinals of a grand slam. It's certainly a big step back from making the finals (as he did during the US Open) but it's not realistic to expect him to reach the finals of every grand slam he plays with such a deep field. More concerning is how easily Wawrinka took him out in the quarters. Nishikori simply got outclassed by Wawrinka, who consistently hit a harder and heavier ball than Nishikori. After a straight set win over Ferrer it appeared Nishikori was finding his form in time for the latter stages of the tournament. Instead, there are now some doubts as to whether Nishikori can consistently compete with the best few players in the world.
Grigor Dimitrov: Dimitrov never seemed at his best at this Australian Open, but the loss to
now seems better than it did at the time.
Regardless, if Dimitrov is ever going to live up to the hype he'll have
to start beating the Murrays and Federers of the world at some point. He is several years younger, but the Big Four
isn't going away anytime soon. Dimitrov
does appear to be closing the gap, but it's clear there is still a gap between
him and the very best players in the world.
Dimitrov's start to 2015 hasn't been a disaster by any means, but it has
been fairly mediocre. He's too talented
(and now a hard enough worker) not to post plenty of big results during the
rest of the season, but still doesn't seem ready to win the biggest matches
when it matters most.