Grigor Dimitrov will be closer to his 2014 form: In 2014 Dimitrov looked like the next big thing in men's tennis He had his much awaited breakthrough year, spending time in the top 10 in the world and reached the semifinals at
Wimbledon. For a
guy who improved every year since turning pro, the natural progression seemed
to be that Dimitrov would start competing for grand slam titles in 2015. Instead, for the first time in his career
Dimitrov had a serious regression, and finished in the low-twenties in the
rankings. He was a
non-factor at most big tournaments, and his backhand remained a weakness. Some thought experimenting with a new racquet
was the problem, others thought his focus was away from tennis, or that he
wasn't ready to deal with the bigger spotlight 2014 brought. But whatever the cause, 2014 was clearly a
wasted year for the Bulgarian. Most of
the issues Dimitrov dealt with last season should be behind him, and he should
be extremely motivated to prove 2015 was a fluke. He's still remarkably talented, and can play
with less pressure and attention in 2016.
Expect Dimitrov to finish the year a lot closer to 10 in the world than
Jack Sock will end the year as the top ranked American: John Isner has been carrying the torch for American men's tennis over the last several years, and generally maintains a ranking between 11-20 in the world. While Isner had a strong 2015 (finishing at 11), 2016 may be the year Isner relinquishes his spot as the top ranked American. Don't expect for Isner to have a big drop in the rankings, but it looks like Jack Sock is ready to take the next step. Sock ended 2015 on a tear, and has fixed many of the deficiencies in his game that held him back early on. Sock looks like he belongs on court with the top ATP players, and his game should be ready to compete with the world's best. If he can stay healthy for the whole year (which has been a problem in the past), Sock should be able to finish just outside the top 10 in the world rankings.
Marin Cilic will be back: 2015 was a tough year for the 2014 US Open Champion, as late 2014 wrist problems hampered his preparations for the year. Cilic never really got on track, though he still managed to reach the semis of the US Open and quarters of
Now that he's had a full off-season to rest and train, Cilic should be
ready to return to form in 2016. He
won't have the Big Four's consistency week in and week out, but a healthy Cilic
could easily steal a Masters title or make a couple of deep runs in grand
slams. After a year in which he finished
at 13 in the rankings, a final ranking in the 6-8 range is a reasonable
expectation for the upcoming season.
Ernests Gulbis will return to the top 25: There's no denying that 2015 was a disaster of a season for Gulbis. He finished 2014 in the top 15 in the world, and at one point dropped outside of the top 100 in 2015. There were times where it looked like he couldn't beat a club pro, and his bizarre forehand form (which appeared to help in 2014) began to look like a cheap gimmick. While there's not much evidence to suggest Gulbis will return to form in 2016 (except a couple of decent results toward the end of the season), Gulbis generally does the opposite of what everyone expects. If we have high expectations going in for Gulbis he generally disappoints, and when we write him off he tends to become relevant. Now that no one is taking Gulbis seriously, things seem to be lining up exactly how Gulbis likes them.