When looking at last season’s performances of the top 5 on the ATP list there are some pretty clear conclusions to draw from it. This was definitely a year to remember for Nole and a year of misery and disappointment for Rafa. Murray’s season was a huge improvement compared to 2014, which he mostly spent recovering from injury. And the Swiss duo of Federer and Wawrinka played to the best of their capabilities, but didn’t warrant a top 2 position at the end of the year.
1. Novak Djokovic
This year there was a period of three months when Novak lost just once. The Serb had an absolutely brilliant season, which includes wins at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in which he only missed on the final played in Madrid and reached a record breaking 8 finals in the process.
This was complemented by a third win in his fourth final appearance at Wimbledon, and a win at the Australian Open. That win at the Australian Open was so comprehensive and dominant (he didn’t lose a set in the first five rounds) that many fans of Djokovic compared it to a dream-come-true performance.
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The only negative, in an otherwise stellar season for Djokovic, was the loss in the Roland Garros final, when Stan Wawrinka prevented him from finishing off one of the greatest ever runs in a tournament, and completing a career Grand Slam. In Paris Nole didn’t drop a set in the first five rounds, beat Murray in a match that lasted for two days, and beat Nadal on his favourite surface at his favourite tournament, but still couldn’t prevail when faced with ‘Stan the Man’.
2. Andy Murray
Murray entered the 2015 season by failing to win in 36 events on clay, but all that changed with his victory in Munich over home favourite Philipp Kohlschreiber. He also entered the year with the embarrassing stat of not being in the top 4 of the rankings for a full year.
That changed when the UK native managed to get to the Australia Open Final, only to be defeated by Novak Djokovic in four sets. He also got to the semi-finals at Roland Garros, but again lost to Djokovic, this time in five sets.
This was also the year in which he joined the elite company of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the only players to get to at least the semi-final round in all nine of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments.
3. Roger Federer
Numbers 3 and 4 are reserved for the Swiss duo of Federer and Wawrinka. Federer managed to win in the first edition of the Istanbul Open, and the Turkish city became the 19th place where a tournament was won by the Swiss maestro.
He also reached his forty-first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final on Rome’s clay, and by winning in Halle, he took his tally at his favourite grass court to eight titles. By doing this he became the fifth tennis player to win eight titles at a single tournament.
4. Stanislas Wawrinka
Wawrinka will probably remember this season as the year in which he managed to defeat Nadal, Federer and Djokovic on clay. This was also the second season in a row in which he reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. But when he got there he lost to Gasquet. He went one step further in the US Open where he was defeated in straight sets by Roger Federer.
However, the tournament by which Wawrinka will definitely remember this season is the French Open. On the clay courts of Paris he defeated Federer in straight sets, in what was his first win over his compatriot in a major tournament. He then outplayed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semis, earning himself a place in the final against the top seeded Djokovic. He won in four sets, and in doing so he defeated the most in-form player this season.
5. Rafael Nadal
2015 was a season to forget for Rafa. It was a year in which his confidence was shattered. He tried, but couldn’t get past his so called ‘mental injury’ and prompted many to start speculating that the best was behind the Spaniard and that his injuries have dealt the final blow.
He did recover however, and started looking like his former self. In the second part of the season by playing noticeably better he managed to take his tally of wins to 61, which when combined with the 21 losses he suffered this season, is not such a bad wins-to-games ratio.
But we are talking of a serial winner here, and that win ratio of 75%, was his worst since 2004, and was achieved by playing part in as many matches that he could. He won most of those matches, but got eliminated when the going got tough and when he had to reach the latter rounds.
Rafa will certainly hope that 2016 will be much better for him. It surely cannot get any worse than this. Or can it? We’ll all have to wait and see whether his doubters were right, and whether his career is on a downward spiral already.