As you sip your peppermint latte during this most wonderful time of the year, ponder that the 2024 ATP tennis season starts in just over 3 weeks. It’s time to unwrap the TennisConnected ATP Top 10 Predictions for 2024 and check the score on last year’s picks as well.
I did a passable job on the WTA Top 10 predictions for this year, even making some great calls. I did not fare as well on the men’s side. Just being honest. Nick Kyrgios, Rafael Nadal and Matteo Berrettini struggled terribly with injuries. They were all in my Top 10. Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger Aliassime, two players I still believe have amazing potential, did not reach the elite heights I had thought they might. Those were my bad calls.
On a brighter note, I did make the statement that Nadal is not done yet. That’s true. And I predicted that Alexander Zverev would make a comeback and re-enter the ATP Top 10. And the crowning achievement for my ATP Top 10 Predictions? I picked #1 and #2. Well-played, me.
Djokovic Still the Man to Beat
Sure, you could argue it’s not difficult to pick Carlos Alcaraz as the second-best player in the world, and Novak Djokovic as number one. But plenty of people walk the planet who have said Djokovic would fade. Others thought Alcaraz would take the top spot and never give it back.
Now let’s have a little drummer boy roll and examine the ATP Top Ten Predictions for 2024.
Generally, I think this is the year that the young ones break out and move up. My crystal ball says this time next year reveals a vastly different ATP Top 10 with a rosy, youthful complexion.
Projected 2024 ATP Tour Top 10
10. Arthur Fils. This exciting 19-year-old Frenchman shot up the rankings in 2023 and now stands at a career-high #36. Not bad for a teenager. His powerful serve, plus-one prowess and all-court game have earned Fils an invitation from Rafa to train in Kuwait ahead of the 2024 season.
9. Tommy Paul. When in doubt, pick the best movers. This cool-cat American has footwork for days, speed to catch up to anything, sliding ability on almost any surface and fast-twitch hands at the net. I still haven’t figured out why Tommy doesn’t have a better record on clay with his game-style, but maybe it’s just a matter of more reps on the dirt.
8. Nicolas Jarry. Watch out for this tall Chilean drink of water. Currently ranked #19, Jarry is starting to hit the sweet spot of his career. His serve is sublime. Grass might be his best surface, but his results on clay speak to the completeness of his game. I think he’s finally got the financial backing to take his game into the ATP Top 10.
7. Ben Shelton. For a kid who only left the United States for the first time this year, he certainly adapted quickly. The 21-year-old Atlanta native has a vexing left-handed serve and an even temperament, as evidenced by his ability to take good-natured ribbing from Djokovic. His U.S. Open semifinal run was proof he’s got the talent. I think Shelton will do fine at Wimbledon and clean up on hard courts, but his clay-court results will take time and patience to build. Ben should look to get some court time with fellow lefty and King of Clay Nadal before he retires.
6. Alexander Zverev. This re-emerging German seems to have taken well to the role of villain. His off-court troubles don’t seem to bother him, and in fact, he continues to defy expectations. After a serious ankle injury in 2022, Zverev’s backhand returned with as much zip as ever. If he keeps serving troubles at bay, he should hit his stride in terms of his career arc.
5. Holger Rune. The Danish spark plug should continue to grow in maturity and skill. Rune has a beautiful volley, which is becoming increasingly important at the top levels of the ATP. Now he just needs to use that weapon with precision and design. I also see Holger improving his forehand and continuing to hone his defense.
We had @holgerrune2003 on @advconnors this week and he told us he’s happy @DjokerNole is still playing because he sets such a high standard for the rest of the players to work towards. Listen here ?https://t.co/7EpqtJBBG8 pic.twitter.com/MNgDsvd3KV
— Jimmy Connors (@JimmyConnors) December 2, 2023
The Big Four
4. Daniil Medvedev. This guy will be a mainstay in the ATP Top 10 for several years. I don’t necessarily love his style, but it is a style. It works for him. His overall serve rating ticked down a little in 2023. But don’t look now– Medvedev’s return rating shot up to #1 on tour. That’s right, in the ATP’s metrics, he currently bests Sinner, Alcaraz and Djokovic in that category. And Meddy did it his way– with that way back return position. He obviously knows something everyone else doesn’t.
3. Jannik Sinner. He’s been called the best pure ball-striker on tour. That doesn’t always translate, but this year the sleek Italian proved he’s got the mental fortitude to beat the best the game has ever seen. Sinner finally notched wins over Djokovic in both the ATP Finals and the Davis Cup. Sinner is onto something with his work ethic. For all the kudos Brad Gilbert got for working with Coco Gauff, Darren Cahill deserves just as much hype for the job he’s done with Sinner.
2. Carlos Alcaraz. It’s hard to say this superstar suffered a sophomore slump when he won Wimbledon, but I think he’s still gauging exactly how much tennis to play. Everyone wants a piece of him, and his current game-style is tough on the body. Carlitos has a brilliant team around him, so it’s all just a matter of calibration. He also needs to run opponent-specific patterns so that he can more efficiently manage his energy within points and within matches. But never forget he’s got every shot in the bag. Including that devilish dropper.
1. Novak Djokovic. Novak until proven otherwise, is what I say. I don’t care about his age. Djokovic is the GOAT, and I still believe he’s got a shot to win the calendar Grand Slam. No one matches Djokovic mentally, and he’s taken care of his body in a way that others simply haven’t had the discipline to do. As his fans say, “24 and loading…”
Cheers to a sparkling, tennis-filled new year in 2024.