2021 has drawn to a close and the ATP top ten looks almost entirely different to a year ago, almost everyone in it has improved their rank since last year. So much promise and potential is on display from everyone. The average age of the top ten is 25.6 now, compared to 27.8 of last year, which can only bode well for the future. Here’s how the best players did in the 2021 ATP Tour.

ATP Rankings and Titles (2020 rank)

  1. Novak Djokovic (1)
Novak Djokovic after winning the Australian Open – Tennis Australia/ NATASHA MORELLO

Australian Open 2000

Roland Garros 2000

Wimbledon 2000

Paris Masters 1000

Belgrade 250

Novak Djokovic led the rankings from start to finish for the second time in his career, and in the process became the player with the most weeks at world number one ever. He was dominant in three of the slams, with a modest second place at the fourth. 

Aside from the slams, Djokovic also made the ATP finals semifinal, the final in the Rome Masters and the Davis Cup semifinal. As well as fourth place at the Olympics.

It’s been pointed out that while Djokovic’s 2021 is one of the most successful of all time, he failed to get olympic gold, davis cup success or a calendar slam. 

Still, even his worst detractors would struggle to say Djokovic isn’t the best in the world. He is now best poised to take the all time grand slam record for himself in 2022.

  1. Daniil Medvedev (4)
Daniil Medvedev after winning the US Open

US Open 2000

Canada Masters 1000

Mallorca 250

Marseilles 250

ATP Cup Champion

Laver Cup victory team EU

Davis Cup champion

This year was the year that Daniil Medvedev created his own tier of player, just below Djokovic and above his former place with Zverev, Tsitsipas and Thiem. He has firmly distinguished himself as the second best player in the world… but this isn’t enough for the Russian. 

His world number two finish was foreshadowed early, when he made the finals of the Australian Open. Medvedev has been consistently near the top of the major events, if not actually at the top. A quarterfinal in Roland Garros concluded his clay swing that he despised so much. A semifinal in the olympics, proved it was the grass, not his form that brought him a comparatively poor fourth round in Wimbledon. The victories in the US Open and the Canada Masters made this the strongest year of his career. He capped of his solo season, with a final in the Paris Masters and the final in the ATP Finals.

Aside from his solo success this year, Medvedev now holds the distinction of being the winner of three team competitions in one season, the ATP Cup, Laver Cup, and Davis Cup. He shares this with teammate Andrey Rublev, but is the only person to do it undefeated, and is actually the only person to win the Davis Cup finals undefeated in history.

Medvedev seemed more focused this year, particularly as it went on, without losing his sense of humour, he’s now not going to throw his toys out of the pram every time something doesn’t go his way. 

Finally a grand slam champion, more than capable of beating anyone, especially on hardcourts, 2022 is his lunge for world number one, will Djokovic hold him off? Or will another player surge and snatch the spot away from him.

  1. Alexander Zverev (7)
Alexander Zverev after winning the ATP Finals

Tokyo Olympic Gold

ATP Finals 1300

Cincinnati Masters 1000

Madrid Masters 1000

Vienna 500

Acapulco 500

Laver Cup victory team EU

Not a grand slam final to his name, but there was plenty to be proud of for Zverev in 2021. Olympic gold, ATP finals, Laver Cup, and two masters 1000s all won, Zverev seems to be winning the biggest tournaments you can win that aren’t slams. And two semifinals and a quarterfinal aren’t too bad. He never lost a final this year and beat the world number one twice. 

Zverev is one of the three players most likely to finish world number one next year. If Djokovic does not attend the Australian Open, Zverev might well be the favourite to win that, and climb the rankings. He’s done nothing but improve over the last few years, the natural progression is a grand slam victory and maybe a number one spot.

  1. Stefanos Tsitsipas (6)
Tsitsipas after winning the Monte-Carlo masters

Monte Carlo 1000

Lyon 250

Laver Cup victory team EU

Stefanos Tsitsipas did the worst out of the second tier of players, not counting Thiem, but he did seem to carve a clay niche for himself. He won his first masters 1000 and made his first grand slam final at the French Open. Tsitsipas made headlines for his repeated pushing of the rules, which made him very unpopular with Andy Murray, Alexander Zverev, and various crowds. Numerous accusations of receiving illegal coaching while abusing the bathroom break rules have hit the greek.

Out of all in the top ten, Tsitsipas sits most precariously. Everyone above him seems to have more potential, unless one of them has a disaster season it’s hard to imagine him climbing the ranks. There are a few below him with eager potential, Ruud and Sinner seem most likely to ascend next year, but Hurkacz and Berrettini are also hungry. Rafael Nadal is also likely to sink or swim next year, perhaps a master versus upstart narrative will form between these two during the clay season. So Tsitsipas will either have to defy the odds and start playing better than the top three, or spend the 2022 season clinging to fourth.

  1. Andrey Rublev (8)
Andrey Rublev after winning Rotterdam

Rotterdam 500

ATP Cup Champion

Laver Cup victory team EU

Davis Cup champion

Olympic mixed doubles gold

Laver Cup victory team EU

Andrey Rublev was consistent throughout the year in a range of events, as a big part of team Russia’s success in the ATP Cup and Davis Cup. Rublev was also unofficially called the MVP in the Laver Cup. He made his first two masters 1000 finals this year and qualified for the ATP finals for the second time in his career. In the summer he won Olympic gold in the mixed doubles with Pavlyuchenkova.

In 2020 Rublev rose from the top 25 to the top ten, in 2021 he seems to have adjusted to that place well, the only thing missing is grand slam consistency. He started strongly at the Australian Open, making the quarterfinals, but never got further than round four at any of the other slams.

Rublev is another player who sits precariously in his top five spot, below him is a lot of potential. Rublev’s 2021 results are good, but not showing future greatness. He needs to start winning Masters 1000s or getting deep grand slam runs soon, or face being overtaken by those below him.

  1. Rafael Nadal (2)
Nadal in the Rome masters semifinal on his way to win

Rome Masters 1000

Barcelona 500

Rafael Nadal is the first person on these rankings to have dropped from last year, and there’s good reason for that; he missed half the season. The half of the season he did attend went fairly well. He made a quarterfinal run at the Australian Open, but lost to Tsitsipas. Then in the clay season it always took a strong player to beat him, he lost to Rublev in the Monte Carlo quarters, he won in Barcelona, lost to Zverev in the Madrid quarterfinals, and beat Djokovic in the Rome Masters finals. 

A foot injury hampered the rest of Nadal’s season, he lost to Novak Djokovic in the French Open semifinals. Nadal missed Wimbledon and the Olympics and briefly returned in Washington for a thrilling match against Jack Sock, but ultimately called an early end to his season after the second round.

His early season was enough to qualify him for the ATP Finals, which he did not attend, but it also meant that Nadal finished in the top ten for the 17th time in his career. 

We’ll see a glimpse of Nadal’s recovery at the Mubadala Tennis World Championships, but his next year is a mystery. He is a great champion, but an older one now, returning from injury. The question of a 21st slam is still up for debate.

  1. Matteo Berrettini (10)
Matteo Berrettini after winning queens

Queens 500

Belgrade 250

Laver Cup victory team EU

Matteo Berrettini captured the biggest win of his career at queens club this year, and with his final at Wimbledon, seems to have announced himself as one of the best grass-courters in the top ten. He also made the quarterfinal at the French Open and US Open, along with a fourth round run at the Australian Open, this makes 2021 his best grand slam season. 

Berrettini’s year has been a series of big spikes of performance, leaving some weaker patches, particularly in the masters 1000 events. With the exception to this rule being Madrid, in which he made the final.

He made the ATP Finals, but had to pull out of a tense round robin match with Alexander Zverev after suffering an injury, which may end up being chronic.

Berrettini has shown strong potential in the slams, but needs to translate that into consistency if he wants to join the group of big players he sits just behind. In 2022, if his injury doesn’t worsen, he’ll be looking to prove he belongs amidst Tsitsipas, Zverev and Medvedev.

  1. Casper Ruud (27)
Ruud after winning Geneva

San Diego 250

Kitzbuhel 250

Gstaad 250

Bastad 250

Geneva 250

ATP Finals semifinal

Laver Cup victory team EU

Casper Ruud employed a strange strategy to leap up the rankings this year, perhaps it should be called small ball tennis. Winning several 250 tournaments to reach world number eight. 

He also made three quarterfinal runs and two semifinal runs in the masters 1000s. Ruud’s grand slam results aren’t great, a respectable fourth round in the Australian Open is as good as it gets.

But Ruud proved he belongs in the top ten, when he qualified for the ATP Finals and made it out of the round robin phase into the semifinals.

Ruud is still young, at only 22, he’s the second youngest in the top ten and has plenty of work to do. The next step is to make the quarterfinals of a slam, as his rankings, and therefore seeding will predict.

  1. Hubert Hurkacz (34)
Hubert Hurkacz wins in Miami

Miami Masters 1000

Metz 250

Delray Beach 250

Hurkacz leapt up 25 places this year in the rankings, thanks to a Masters 1000 victory in Miami, his two 250 wins, and a semifinal at Wimbledon. He has the talent to beat the best on his day, but has had his weaker moments too.

Hurkacz seemed to fade in the later phase of the season, he qualified for the ATP finals but failed to win a single match.

Hurkacz has had his breakthrough year, and needs to keep pushing if he is to be one of the best, but there’s been good signs. 

The Pole has enough talent and the right attitude to remain in the top ten, but the question is if true greatness will evade him in his career, 2022 will begin to answer this question.

  1. Jannik Sinner (37)
Sinner after winning Sofia

Antwerp 250

Sofia 250

Washington 250

Melbourne 250

Jannik Sinner has steadily made his way to the top and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Four little titles don’t tell the full story. 

Jannik has improved year after year and is now feared as the hardest hitter on tour, the biggest results aren’t quite there, with his best being a final at Miami, but next year the results should start to come.

He was an alternate at the ATP Finals, and to the delight of the crowd, he took a set off Daniil Medvedev and managed to beat qualifier Hubert Hurkacz. The youngest player in the top ten is sure to have a strong 2022.

Other noteworthy players

Cameron Norrie wins Indian Wells – Jared Wickerham/BNP Paribas Open

11. Felix Auger Aliassime (21)

Wimbledon quarterfinal, US Open semifinal, Laver Cup selection team world.

12. Cameron Norrie (71)

Indian Wells 1000, Los Cabos 250, ATP finals alternate, career high.

13. Diego Schwartzman (9)

Buenos Aires 250, Roland Garros quarterfinal, Laver Cup selection team world.

14. Denis Shapavolov (12)

Wimbledon semifinal, Laver Cup selection team world.

15. Dominic Thiem (3)

Wrist injury struggles.

16. Roger Federer (5)

Wimbledon quarterfinal, knee injury struggles.

18. Aslan Karatsev (112)

Dubai 500, Moscow 250, Australian Open semifinal, Alternate at ATP Finals.

21. Gael Monfils (11)

Poor form.

22. Nikoloz Basilashvili (40)

Munich 250, Doha 250, Indian Wells final.

23. Taylor Fritz (29)

US number one, hit career high.

25. Dan Evans (32)

Melbourne 250, hit career high.

26. Reilly Opelka (39)

Laver Cup selection team world, Canada Masters final, hit career high.

28. Grigor Dimitrov (19)

Australian Open quarterfinal.

29. Karen Khachanov

Olympic silver, Wimbledon quarterfinal.

30. Marin Cilic (42)

St Petersburg 250, Stuttgart 250.

31. Lloyd Harris (87)

US Open quarterfinal, career high.

32. Carlos Alcaraz (141)

Umag 250, Next Gen Finals champion, US Open quarterfinal, career high.

37. Fabio Fognini (17)

Poor form.

38. Frances Tiafoe (59)

Showed potential.

39. David Goffin (15)

Montpellier 250, knee injury.

41. Sebastian Korda (118)

Parma 250, Next Gen Finals final, hit career high.

43. Tommy Paul (54)

Stockholm 250, career high.

48. Ilya Ivashka (108)

Winston-Salem 250, hit career high.

53. Kwon Soon Woo (95)

Nur-Sultan 250, hit career high.

56. Jenson Brooksby (307)

Career high.

57. Botic Van de Zandschulp (156)

US Open quarterfinal, career high.

61. Alexei Popyrin (113)

Singapore 250, hit career high.

66. Hugo Gaston (162)

Next Gen Finals Round Robin, hit career high.

67. Brandon Nakashima (166)

Next Gen Finals semifinal, hit career high.

70. Milos Raonic (14)

Poor form.

81. Stan Wawrinka (18)

Poor form.

89. Juan Manuel Cerundolo (341)

Cordoba 250, hit career high.

134. Andy Murray (122) 

Hip injury recovery, beating top ten players.

Active players career titles after 2021

  1. Roger Federer 103
  2. Rafael Nadal 88
  3. Novak Djokovic 86
  4. Andy Murray 46
  5. Juan Martin Del Potro 22
  6. Marin Cilic 20
  7. Alexander Zverev 19
  8. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 18
  9. Dominic Thiem 17
  10. Stan Wawrinka 16
  11. John Isner 16