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2013 BTB Awards: ATP Report Card

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Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal’s banner year featured 10 titles, including the French Open and U.S. Open. (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The Beyond The Baseline awards are our look back at the best — and worst — of the tennis season. Today we offer our final “grades” for the ATP Tour singles players. Rafael Nadal headlines the list after a monstrous comeback season in which he regained the No. 1 ranking. Click here for our complete archive of year-end awards.

Head of the class

Rafael Nadal: He’s the player of the year by any metric. The Spaniard won 10 titles, including his eighth French Open and second U.S. Open, upping his Grand Slam haul to 13 titles. His season was shocking simply because he was able to bounce back from a seven-month injury layoff to dominate the tour so quickly and so consistently. Beating everyone on his beloved clay was one thing, but through the U.S. Open he also transformed into the best hard-court player, outpacing the likes of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and an admittedly subpar Roger Federer. For eight months, the Big Four was reduced to the Big One, and in this era of greatness, that’s one heck of a feat.

Andy Murray: Seventy-seven. It’s a figure that will live forever in tennis history, signifying the number of years that Great Britain had to wait for another male champion at Wimbledon. Murray ended that hand-wringing drought, and that will forever define his career.

Stanislas Wawrinka: His 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 12-10 loss to Djokovic in the fourth round of the Australian Open was the most electrifying match of the season and a harbinger of the type of quality tennis that Wawrinka would play in 2013. For the first time in his career, he looked like a man who truly believed he belonged among the elite. And by season’s end he was in that class, qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals for the first time and advancing to the semifinals.

Tommy Haas: The 35-year-old bested his fantastic 2012 season to finish at No. 12, winning the Erste Bank Open and BMW Open. His 6-2, 6-4 win over Djokovic in the fourth round of the Sony Open set up a run to the semifinals, his first at an outdoor hard-court ATP Masters 1000 event in more than 10 years. Haas kept it up and knocked off another major career milestone in May, reaching the quarterfinals of the French Open for the first time.

Honor roll

Richard Gasquet

Richard Gasquet battled to make the semifinals of the U.S. Open. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

Richard Gasquet: He jumped only one spot in the rankings, from No. 10 to No. 9, but the Frenchman made huge strides this season. He reached his first major semifinal in six years, at the U.S. Open, where Gasquet — who had been 1-15 in the fourth round of Slams — displayed surprising mettle by outlasting Milos Raonic 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (9), 7-5 in four hours and 40 minutes in the round of 16 before turning around and holding off David Ferrer 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals. It wouldn’t have been surprising if Gasquet had wilted after squandering a two-set lead against Ferrer, but the 27-year-old shot maker showed that he could grind, too. Gasquet won three titles and qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals for the first time since 2007.

Ernests Gulbis: The charismatic Latvian had a slow start; he didn’t play the Australian Open because his No. 136 ranking in January kept him out of the main draw, and he lost to the 234th-ranked player at an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy. Then, after his mom told him to quit the sport, he went on a 17-2 tear before losing to Nadal at Indian Wells. He still struggled with his consistency, and lost to No. 88 Andreas Haider-Maurer in the first round of the U.S. Open, but Gulbis finished the year with two titles and a No. 24 ranking and earned a seed for Melbourne in 2014. And he did it all while remaining eminently quotable. A win-win for everyone.

Tommy Robredo: Coming off a leg injury that shortened his 2012 season, the 31-year-old Spaniard went from being ranked out of the top 100 in January to winning two titles and putting together memorable runs at the French Open and U.S. Open. At Roland Garros, he became the first player to rally from two-set deficits in three consecutive matches, resulting in his first major quarterfinal since 2009. In New York, he stunned Federer to make another Slam quarterfinal. He finished the season at No. 18, his highest year-end ranking since 2009.

Grigor Dimitrov: The 22-year-old Bulgarian began living up to the hype, spending the season checking off a bunch of firsts. There was his first ATP final, at the Brisbane International in January; his first Masters quarterfinal, in Monte Carlo; his first win over a world No. 1, a 7-6 (6), 6-7 (8), 6-3 victory over Djokovic in the Madrid Open; his first third round in a Slam, at the French Open; and his first ATP title, at the Stockholm Open, where he defeated Ferrer in the final. He looks primed for more after ending 2013 at No. 23, though his recent coaching change will be one to watch.

Fabio Fognini: Sure, we could knock him for seeming to give less than his best effort at times, including infamous meltdowns at the Western & Southern Open and St. Petersburg Open, but the Italian was a workhorse on clay (28-10). He won the first two titles of his career and made a third final during his run through Stuttgart, Germany; Hamburg, Germany; and Umag, Croatia, after Wimbledon. That talent has always been there (he’s a former French Open quarterfinalist), and this season he was able to focus and actually win — most of the time.

Jerzy Janowicz: Who knew what to expect from Janowicz after he burst into the top 30 via his breakout run at the Paris Masters at the end of last season? The 23-year-old took another step forward when, in his fifth major, he made the Wimbledon semifinals behind his brazen shot making and booming serve. A back injury derailed him at the U.S. Open, but the Pole inched up to No. 21 and proved to be a legitimate threat.

Novak Djokovic: Djokovic was the best runner-up for a good portion of the season. He dropped a heartbreaker to Nadal in the de facto final at the French Open, he lost to Murray in the final of Wimbledon and he fell to Nadal again in the U.S. Open final. But he also won the Australian Open for the third consecutive year and ended the season on a 24-match winning streak that included two victories against Nadal. The 26-year-old Serb may have had a couple of uncharacteristic lapses this year, but he still won seven titles (second most in his career) and went 74-9.

Meets expectations

Juan Martin del Potro

Juan Martin del Potro won four titles this season and finished at No. 5. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Juan Martin del Potro: His 6-2, 6-4 thumping of Nadal at the Shanghai Masters was a revelation, as were his back-to-back wins over Djokovic and Murray at Indian Wells. The Argentine also won four titles, but he lost early at two of the three majors he played and was hit or miss at the Masters 1000 events. His season included a number of entertaining near misses, including a five-set loss to Djokovic in the semifinals of Wimbledon.

Milos Raonic: The 22-year-old Canadian is still the youngest player in the top 15, at No. 11. After making the final of the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Raonic became the first Canadian man to crack the top 10. He didn’t complete a Slam breakthrough or register an earth-shattering victory, but the progress is there and his midseason partnership with Ivan Ljubicic is encouraging.

Raonic: “There’s so much I have to improve”

David Ferrer: The 31-year-old Spaniard made his first Slam final, at the French Open. He finished at a career-high No. 3 despite a 3-13 record against top-10 players.

John Isner: Isner, who missed the Australian Open with a knee injury and retired from his second-round match at Wimbledon with a knee injury, made consistently deep runs at the ATP’s smaller tournaments in the United States. The 28-year-old won two titles for the third year in a row, and he impressed by beating Gasquet, Raonic, Djokovic and del Potro to advance to the final of the Masters 1000 tournament in Cincinnati.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: His year might have looked different if not for a midseason knee injury that led to his second-round retirement at Wimbledon and his withdrawal from the U.S. Open. However, the Frenchman still delivered in the biggest tournaments at which he was healthy. He avenged a spirited five-set loss to Federer in the Australian Open quarterfinals by dispatching the Swiss 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 in the French Open quarterfinals, reaching the semifinals of his home Slam for the first time.

Needs Improvement

Roger Federer

Roger Federer was 45-17 with one title in 2013. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Roger Federer: There’s no way around it: This was Federer’s worst season in more than a decade. His record streak of making Slam quarterfinals ended at 36. He suffered shocking losses to No. 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round of Wimbledon and to Robredo, who had never beaten him in 10 attempts, at the U.S. Open. He won just one title, at an ATP 250 tournament in Halle, Germany, and collected four victories against top-10 players, including two at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals.

Kei Nishikori: The 23-year-old Nishikori, who last season became the first Japanese player to win the Japan Open, stalled in 2013. The jury is still out on whether his body can endure the grind of a full ATP season.

Sam Querrey: The American started the year at No. 22 and ended at No. 46. A straight-set win over Wawrinka at the China Open was the only notable result in a 27-22 season.

Gael Monfils: Grappling with injuries, Monfils had a season of memorable losses and few notable wins. His three-set triumph over Federer at the Shanghai Masters was the highlight, but more often than not he was embroiled in unnecessarily long matches that ended in a loss. That said, he did get a U.S. crowd to cheer against Isner, so I suppose that’s a victory in and of itself.

Held back a grade

Ryan Harrison: After a string of seasons marked by improvement, the 21-year-old American went 11-21 on the tour and slipped outside the top 100.

Brian Baker: Baker sustained a knee injury at the Australian Open that knocked him out for most of the season. It was a bummer after he emerged as one of the biggest surprises in 2012.

David Goffin: What happened?

Truant

Bernard Tomic

Bernard Tomic had a difficult year both on and off the court. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

Bernard Tomic: He showed up big time in Australia, beating Djokovic at the Hopman Cup exhibition, winning Sydney for his first title and playing respectably in a third-round loss to Federer in Melbourne. But aside from those results and a solid upset of Gasquet at Wimbledon, Tomic was nowhere to be found during a year that included the distraction of his father’s conviction for assaulting his hitting partner.

Janko Tipsarevic: Injured and slumping through most of the season, the 29-year-old Serb capped it off by missing the Davis Cup final because of a heel injury. He began the year at No. 9 and finished at No. 36.

Juan Monaco: Much like Tipsarevic, Monaco couldn’t back up his 2012 season. A wrist injury slowed Monaco, who lost his opening-round match in his first five tournaments and closed at No. 42, down from No. 12.

Graduating class

David Nalbandian: We’ll miss the backhand, but not necessarily the temper of the former world No. 3. But, boy, did that backhand make up for the temper.

James Blake: The retirement announcement at the U.S. Open from the 32-year-old former world No. 4 didn’t come as a huge surprise. His final match was a five-set loss on Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Nicolas Massu: The Chilean, who peaked at No. 9 and was the gold medalist in singles and doubles at the 2004 Athens Olympics, bid farewell this summer.

  • Published On Nov 18, 2013
  • 30 comments
    NinaCanet
    NinaCanet

    Djokovic honor roll? my god... a few points here or there and he would have had the best season ever.

    MichaelC
    MichaelC

    Rafa's season was so "shocking" to media heads because his camp convinced them that Rafa's knees were deteriorating to the point of being at at retirement's door. But that was just hyperbole that the media bought into hook, line, and sink. He wasn't laid up on some gurney for months ... he was training and practicing. He was ready to come back in November 2012 but changed his mind (indoor court season wasn't the best fit for a "comeback"). He should have played in the AO but was knocked out by some weird month-long stomach virus, NOT his knees.

    Rafa is great and had an amazing year ... but quit it with the "Epic Comeback" narrative, huh?

    josie2014
    josie2014

    This article is NOT titles MOST IMPROVED PLAYERS IN 2013.

    This article is about GRADES for the 2013 year.

    Therefore Novak should be "Head of the Class"

    It's plain. It's simple.

    This writer has a bias against Novak and that's all.

    Ace2020
    Ace2020

    I love how people talk about how shocking and impossible Nadal's comeback seems. Exactly! I mean come on.... he said he wasn't pracitising for 7 months but there were pictures of him doing so in November. Either he was just exaggerrating things, or something else is going on here...

    Francisco Jose
    Francisco Jose

    Obviously Nole is better than Wawrinka and Haas.  These grades are relative to perceived abilities and performance in the recent past.  Nole won the same big titles he won last year.  I would argue that every other player would have been happy with Nole's 2013 campaign, even Rafa who has only won 1 slam a year for the 2 years prior to this one, and never won the tour finals.  But for Nole, it would be hard to argue that he improved as much as the other players in the "head of the class" section.  It would be pointless to give out grades based on players' performance relative to one another.  We have the ATP rankings for that.

    shackle52
    shackle52

    How do you grade Fed's season without mentioning his back injury?

    RafalPruszyn-ski
    RafalPruszyn-ski

    Nadal is head of the class in cheating. Time to expel the ugly loser.

    topsport1
    topsport1

    I'd agree with everyone but I think it's kind of a backhanded compliment to Djokovic...obviously Wawrinka isn't a better player and didn't have a better season but a lot more is expected from Djokovic...that's the only way I could see where she's coming from

    pyro21
    pyro21

    Novak wins the AO and ATP Champs and isn't head of the class? Nadal was definitely the player of the year, but Novak was definitely the 2nd best.

    josie2014
    josie2014

    Among the most "electrifying matches of the year" - let's see now -

    Nole vs. Stan AO

    Nole vs. Rafa Roland Garros

    Nole vs. Del Potro Wimbledon

    Nole vs. Rafa Montreal

    Nole vs. Del Potro Shanghai

    Common denominator? 

    NOLE

    I repeat, you have graded him in the wrong place. 

    josie2014
    josie2014

    I would grade Nole higher. He should definitely be "Head of the Class" 

    He played ALL four slams and went 24-3 in slam play which is better than any other player. 

    He reached the finals of 3 of 4 slams (including the "de facto" final of the other slam).

    He had a longer winning streak than Nadal did on hard and beat almost twice as many top ten players during that streak (7 for Nadal's 22 matches and 13 for Nole's 24 matches). 

    He won 10 sets to Nadal's 8 sets in their 3-3 rivalry match split, and all his wins over Rafa were straight sets, whereas 2 of Nadal's wins over Nole were by the narrowest of margins (Roland Garros and Montreal)

    He won a slam for the 4th time; he won his third World tour final; he won 3 masters; he won Dubai for the 4th time and Bejing for the 4th time, maintaining his undefeated status on that court.  He won 7 titles in total.

    He held 2 charity galas.

    He spoke to the United Nations on behalf of tennis and sport. 

    I could go on. 

    THIS MAN IS HEAD OF THE CLASS.

    He does not deserve to be "graded" lower than Wawrinka or Haas. He does not deserve to be at the VERY BOTTOM of your "honour roll".

    Bias abounds.

    Shake your heads. 



    josie2014
    josie2014

    @MichaelC

    For people like this writer "For eight months, the Big Four was reduced to the Big One".

    To anyone who actually watched the full season of tennis, this is just silliness and inaccurate. 

    In the grass season Nadal did not play a warm up and he LOST ROUND ONE of Wimbledon to  Steve Darcis. How does that "reduce the tour to the Big One"?? Where was Nadal during grass season? Isn't that part of the 8 months this "writer" is talking about? 

    Nadal's season can be reduced to two surges. 

    He won everything on clay, like he always does every year - nothing new. Well actually Djokovic stopped his decade long streak at Monte Carlo and nearly took him out at Roland Garros - but these things are omitted from the "narrative" for the "amazing comeback" story.

    He had an excellent summer hard court season - that was news. He won Canada (barely beat Novak there again), Cincinnati and USO. 

    But then, as usual, he faded in the fall and could not pick up one title, including losing again in the WTF finals. 

    All these facts are omitted in the stories printed about the season. 


    Francisco Jose
    Francisco Jose

    @josie2014 I agree that the article could have had a better title.  But if it is not measuring improvement, why would Haas, ranked no. 12, be at the head of the class?  Why would Gulbis, Robredo, Dimitrov, Fognini and Janowicz make the honor roll?  If your argument is that Djokovic is graded below where he should be, why are you not even more offended at Federer's grade, who is ranked above all of the people mentioned above and received a much worse grade?  What about Ferrer moving up to the No. 3 ranking but only being graded "meets expectations"?

    Obviously you feel that the media is against your man, and I'm not discounting that possibility on the whole.  But as to this particular article, I think you are making much more out of it than is warranted by what is written.  By your own criteria there are many other players whose fans should be just as offended if not more so.  Yet the only person you care to talk about is Djokovic.  You have that right as a fan, but I think it makes you the one to appear biased.

    josie2014
    josie2014

    @Francisco Jose Perceived abilities or not ... please review the following repeated statistics. 

    You should also note that Nole IMPROVED upon his achievements last year. 

    You are wrong that he won the "same titles" of last year. This year he ADDED Monte Carlo and Paris. He ended Nadal's near decade long streak at Monte Carlo - no one else could do and Nole did it in straight sets! 

    Indeed, with his 7 titles in 2013, he won the second most titles of his career this year, only short of 10 in 2011. 

    Also, for the third year in a row, Nole was in the finals of 3 of the 4 slams. 

    In 2011, he was 2 wins away from winning a calendar slam, and in 2012 and 2013 he was 4 wins from a calendar slam. 

    Only Federer tops that kind of consistency at the slams in recent memory; Nole has slam QF and SF wins streaks too - and that is with missing NO SLAMS. Utterly remarkable.

    Novak's 24 match win streak is still alive

    And as I said before ...

     He should definitely be "Head of the Class" 

    He played ALL four slams and went 24-3 in slam play which is better than any other player. 

    He reached the finals of 3 of 4 slams (including the "de facto" final of the other slam).

    He had a longer winning streak than Nadal did on hard and beat almost twice as many top ten players during that streak (7 for Nadal's 22 matches and 13 for Nole's 24 matches). 

    He won 10 sets to Nadal's 8 sets in their 3-3 rivalry match split, and all his wins over Rafa were straight sets, whereas 2 of Nadal's wins over Nole were by the narrowest of margins (Roland Garros and Montreal)

    He won a slam for the 4th time; he won his third World tour final; he won 3 masters; he won Dubai for the 4th time and Bejing for the 4th time, maintaining his undefeated status on that court.  He won 7 titles in total.

    He held 2 charity galas.

    He spoke to the United Nations on behalf of tennis and sport. 

    I could go on. 

    THIS MAN IS HEAD OF THE CLASS.

    He does not deserve to be "graded" lower than Wawrinka or Haas. He does not deserve to be at the VERY BOTTOM of your "honour roll".

    THE BIAS IN THIS GRADING IS EMBARRASSING!

    FL_22
    FL_22

    @RafalPruszyn-ski I'm sorry, but I think its time to 'expel' you and your bitter hatred for a player that has done nothing wrong. If you don't like him, fine, no worries. But there is no need to express such heinous comments. You're only making yourself look like the 'ugly loser' who can't accept the successes of others. 

    Francisco Jose
    Francisco Jose

    @pyro21 It seems to me that the criteria in the article isn't who is the best, but rather who improved from past performance.  The top marks are for those who have had breakout or banner years relative to their own achievements.  2013 was a resurgence for Rafa, for example.  For Nole, I would venture to say that he expected and hoped for more out of the year, though he certainly finished strong and in great position for next year.

    The reason the article is not tabulating who had the best year overall, is that especially at this point, the rankings are a perfect reflection of that.  As you said, Rafa was first, Nole 2nd.  You might argue that Murray would be 3rd over Ferrer, though Ferrer was much more consistent.  The grades might thus vary slightly from the rankings, but it would be hard to justify and significant deviation.  And what fun would that be?  The rankings tell us who is best.  That huge gap in ranking points between Rafa and Nole on one hand, and the rest of the field on the other, is all we need to know as to who the top dogs are.

    As a hypothetical, if Rafa only wins the French next year, that would be a let down after this year.  Even if he wins 2 slams, that would probably not be an improvement over this year.  Rafa would have to win 3 or 4 slams to be at the head of the class next year, I would think.

    As further proof, Federer is ranked 6, but was graded below Wawrinka, Haas, Gasquet, Gulbis, Robredo, Dimitrov, Fognini, Janowicz, Raonic, Isner and Tsonga, all of which are ranked below him.  Sorry to write so much- I went on for a lot longer than I meant to.

    Francisco Jose
    Francisco Jose

    @josie2014  Obviously Nole is better than Wawrinka and Haas.  These grades are relative to perceived abilities and performance in the recent past.  Nole won the same big titles he won last year.  I would argue that every other player would have been happy with Nole's 2013 campaign, even Rafa who has only won 1 slam a year for the 2 years prior to this one, and never won the tour finals.  But for Nole, it would be hard to argue that he improved as much as the other players in the "head of the class" section.  It would be pointless to give out grades based on players' performance relative to one another.  We have the ATP rankings for that.

    NinaCanet
    NinaCanet

    @josie2014 @MichaelC Completely agree, such a biased article. Reading that you would think Nadal had not contenders this year, when as a matter of fact all his matches against Novak were extremely close affairs that could have gone the other way. This narrative as the best comeback ever is nauseating. His knees problems have been blown out of proportion.

    josie2014
    josie2014

    @Francisco Jose @josie2014 As I said below, at the very least Federer's back injury should be mentioned to justify his low grade. And frankly, Fed did have one of his worst years in a decade, winning only one title. He's still always a thread and who would argue against that. Feasibly, for his age, he's meeting expectations, especially since he played while injured and didn't take 6 or 7 months off the tour. But the truth is that he did have a difficult year. 

    I think Ferrer actually did better last year, but you're right - he should be on the honour roll at least - I believe he made his first slam final this year! 

    I am against the bias this particular writing has against Djokovic and thus it is what I focused on. But the entire article is questionable for several reasons; I am with you on that! 

    Francisco Jose
    Francisco Jose

    @josie2014 @Francisco Jose Now as to the bias against Nole, you may be correct.  I do not follow Sports Illustrated enough to be able to speak about this kind of trend.  But I do think there is a certain logic supporting the grades that were given.  If only stories that undermine Nole's achievements appear on the site, then you are probably right.  Nadal obviously had the best year overall, and Nole obviously had the best end of the year.  The fact that they are 1 & 2 is fitting.  They are obviously a cut above the rest of the field right now, Murray included.  I assumed this article was a way to speak about some of the other players.

    Francisco Jose
    Francisco Jose

    @josie2014 @Francisco JoseYou are missing the point.  Nole won 3 masters, 1 slam, and the World Tour Finals in 2013, the same numbers, if not the same titles, that he did in 2012 (I am obviously not counting smaller titles, but his is what I mean by "big titles").   

    As you wrote, "for the third year in a row, Nole was in the finals of 3 of the 4 slams. In 2011, he was 2 wins away from winning a calendar slam, and in 2012 and 2013 he was 4 wins from a calendar slam."  He is the definition of consistency as you yourself state.  That is why he did not improve to the same level as the others at the head of the class.  It is harder to improve when you are already at the top.  I am pretty sure Nadal will not be at the head of the class next year unless he wins the calendar year slam or gets pretty close to it.  It is the classic example of being a victim of your own success.

    I think Nole is satisfied with his 2013 campaign, but not ecstatic about it because he knows he had an opportunity to win another slam (or 3).  The other people on that list are ecstatic about their 2013 campaigns.  That is the difference.

    RafalPruszyn-ski
    RafalPruszyn-ski

    What makes you think I don't *like* him? I couldn't even say I hated him since hate does not approach the level of my emotions towards this disgusting looking, excuse-making, crying, whining and exaggerating bum-picker. He ruined tennis. His name on the Wimbledon trophy denigrates it, ruins it, stains it for all time. Nothing can repair the damage this ape, for that is what he is, has done to the sport. The stain cannot be washed away, the stink cannot be made to leave. He has dishonored tennis, dishonored sport, dishonored the concept of humanity. Expel him.

    Francisco Jose
    Francisco Jose

    @josie2014 @Francisco Jose But it does speak about other players.  Are you saying that even the few articles that aren't solely about the Big 4, are really about the Big 4?  Possible, but sometimes reading between the lines is just reading what you already believe to be true.  I mean if you think everything is a conspiracy against Nole, you will probably see that in everything you read.  As a trend, I buy it.  Each individual article, not so much.  Just my two cents.

    josie2014
    josie2014

    @Francisco Jose @josie2014 Oh it's a trend alright. And not just here. Novak Djokovic is constantly painted in a dark light by mainstream American tennis writers - here, ESPN, etc.  

    Speak of some of the other players? No. The article was a way to "grade" the players. Nadal, Murray and Federer, like Nole, are all on the list, so it's not an article speaking on the other players.



    Francisco Jose
    Francisco Jose

    @josie2014 @Francisco Jose I don't think we disagree on the facts here.  No one is doubting that Nole had the 2nd best year out of anyone in the ATP, and even a more consistent year than Nadal.  But that is not the point of the article.  The article is about improvement over the recent past.  Did Nole have a better 2013 than 2012- Yes.  Was it as big an improvement as Nadal, Murray, Wawrinka or Haas- No.  The only one you could argue is Murray, since he won 1 slam in 2012 and 2013, but the psychological load off his back that has been so well documented after winning Wimbledon is in my mind a special circumstance.

    Even the other people on the Honor Roll had substantially greater improvement from 2012 to 2013  when compared to Nole.  I don't see how this is even debatable.  Again, I think you could argue against the validity of this type of measure in the first place, but I would have to agree with the grades within these parameters.

    I mean otherwise you could just look at the rankings.  It clearly states that Rafa is number 1 and Nole number 2 by a considerable margin over the rest of the field.  I think this article was supposed to be a different take on assessing the players.

    josie2014
    josie2014

    @Francisco Jose @josie2014 

    Well he improved on last year in a few ways:

    - he won 7 titles in 2013, one more than last year. 

    - he had a slightly better W/L match record (74-9 in 2013 to 75-12 in 2012)

    - he established a winning streak of 24 matches that's still alive

    Yes, I am sure he would've liked to win one more slam, but he still deserves to be considered the head of the class, imo, not the lowest on the "honour roll". No way. 

    Nadal lost round 1 of Wimbledon and didn't even play the AO or Miami; what about that? He faded in the fall and failed to win the WTF again. Yes, he had a great year. But judged ruthlessly, like Nole seems to be, one could find holes.