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Who had the best schedule among the Year-end Top 100 players in 2016?

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by Jovica Ilic

During the season, players schedules are one of the most discussing topics among the tennis fans, no matter how good they are ranked. For those at the very top, it is crucial to organize the best possible calendar, especially in Olympic years like 2016 was, in order to save energy and be ready to give their best when they step on the court. Novak Djokovic pretty much mastered it in last half a decade or so, competing only in the biggest events during the season and taking care that he is always at his 100%.

Of course, his sublime consistency allows him to build his calendar around Grand Slams and Masters 1000 events, never entering more than 17 tournaments in the past 6 years! He played 16 ATP tournaments in 2016, which is the same number of events that Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga took, but it has to be said that Spaniard and Frenchman had troubles with injuries that sidelined them from some tournaments they wanted to play.

Despite his busy schedule in the second part of the year, Andy Murray stayed on decent 17 tournaments, while Milos Raonic was in the main draw of 19. We all know how demanding and grueling was the schedule of Dominic Thiem, who played in 27 ATP tournaments, but he is not the leader in that segment, as we will see soon.

Roger Federer was in extreme situation, playing only 7 tournaments in an injury-plagued year, but even that was enough for him to finish inside the Top 20. As the table below shows us, Challenger Tour was the usual option for those who finished outside the Top 50, trying to win some valuable points or get back in the right form before returning to the ATP circuit.

For example, Mikhail Youzhny stepped back to the Challenger Tour at the start of the season, winning 3 back-to-back titles that gave him enough points to be able to enter ATP draws directly, which helped him a lot to finish inside the Top 60.

For those ranked outside the Top 50, it was crucial to make a right balance between ATP and Challenger Tour, in search for some good Challenger results and points while making a break from the top tier events. Nevertheless, entering all 4 Grand Slams is very important for all of them, as that alone gives them almost 6 digits amount in dollars, but they are forced to hit some Challengers if they stay without good ATP result for too long. Of course, players like Facundo Bagnis, Gerald Melzer, Jordan Thompson and Radu Albot, did a great job in Challengers, winning multiple titles, and they managed to finish inside the Top 100 without spending too much time on the ATP Tour.

Bagnis, for example, started the season ranked 140th, but he won 6 Challenger titles and found himself in the Top 60 at the end of the season, earning around 200,000$ (when we take off the taxes) despite he won just 6 ATP matches.

Those points from Challengers gave him a place in the Top 100 and the spot in the main draw of French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open, which was all he wanted from this season! A complete list with the number of tournaments (only main draws, Davis Cup excluded) played by every Top 100 player in 2016:

                                ATP Tour  Challenger  Futures                      #1   Andy Murray            /   17     /           /    #2   Novak Djokovic         /   16     /           / #3   Milos Raonic           /   19     /           / #4   Stan Wawrinka          /   21     /           / #5   Kei Nishikori          /   20     /           / #6   Marin Cilic            /   22     /           / #7   Gael Monfils           /   18     /           / #8   Dominic Thiem          /   27     /           /  #9   Rafael Nadal           /   16     /           /  #10  Tomas Berdych          /   20     /           / #11  David Goffin           /   25     /           / #12  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga     /   16     /           /   #13  Nick Kyrgios           /   18     /           / #14  Roberto Bautista Agut  /   25     /           / #15  Lucas Pouille          /   23     /     1     / #16  Roger Federer          /    7     /           /  #17  Grigor Dimitrov        /   26     /           / #18  Richard Gasquet        /   19     /           / #19  John Isner             /   20     /           /  #20  Ivo Karlovic           /   24     /           /  #21  David Ferrer           /   23     /           /  #22  Pablo Cuevas           /   25     /           / #23  Jack Sock              /   19     /           / #24  Alexander Zverev       /   23     /           / #25  Gilles Simon           /   26     /           / #26  Bernard Tomic          /   23     /           / #27  Albert Ramos-Vinolas   /   32     /           / #28  Feliciano Lopez        /   25     /           / #29  Viktor Troicki         /   29     /           / #30  Pablo Carreno Busta    /   28     /           / #31  Sam Querrey            /   25     /           / #32  Philipp Kohlschreiber  /   24     /           /  #33  Steve Johnson          /   29     /           / #34  Gilles Muller          /   24     /     1     / #35  Martin Klizan          /   17     /     2     /  #36  Marcos Baghdatis       /   23     /           / #37  Marcel Granollers      /   25     /     3     /  #38  Juan Martin del Potro  /   13     /           / #39  Nicolas Mahut          /   21     /           / #40  Paolo Lorenzi          /   26     /     6     / #41  Federico Delbonis      /   24     /           / #42  Fernando Verdasco      /   27     /           / #43  Joao Sousa             /   33     /           / #44  Nicolas Almagro        /   23     /     3     /  #45  Kyle Edmund            /   19     /     3     / #46  Andrey Kuznetsov       /   21     /           / #47  Benoit Paire           /   32     /     1     / #48  Borna Coric            /   21     /           / #49  Fabio Fognini          /   23     /           / #50  Florian Mayer          /   13     /     6     / #51  Mischa Zverev          /   14     /     7     / #52  Diego Schwartzman      /   18     /     6     / #53  Karen Khachanov        /   10     /    12     / #54  Stephane Robert        /   18     /     9     / #55  Jiri Vesely            /   21     /     3     / #56  Facundo Bagnis         /   11     /    17     / #57  Mikhail Youzhny        /   20     /     4     / #58  Malek Jaziri           /   22     /     8     /  #59  Robin Haase            /   20     /     5     / #60  Adrian Mannarino       /   28     /     3     / #61  Thomaz Bellucci        /   23     /     2     / #62  Alexandr Dolgopolov    /   18     /           / #63  Jan-Lennard Struff     /   18     /    12     / #64  Yen-Hsun Lu            /    9     /     9     / #65  Juan Monaco            /   15     /     9     / #66  Daniel Evans           /    8     /    14     / #67  Kevin Anderson         /   21     /           / #68  Gerald Melzer          /    6     /    20     / #69  Jeremy Chardy          /   21     /     3     / #70  Guillermo Garcia-Lopez /   31     /           / #71  Horacio Zeballos       /   13     /    18     / #72  Dustin Brown           /   12     /     9     / #73  Paul-Henri Mathieu     /   20     /     4     / #74  Illya Marchenko        /   20     /     6     /  #75  Adam Pavlasek          /    3     /    20     / #76  Taylor Fritz           /   22     /     5     /  #77  Damir Dzumhur          /   22     /     5     /  #78  Pierre-Hugues Herbert  /   12     /     5     /  #79  Jordan Thompson        /   10     /    21     / #80  Guido Pella            /   22     /           / #81  Gastao Elias           /   13     /    16     / #82  Thiago Monteiro        /    6     /    16     / #83  Renzo Olivo            /    8     /    15     / #84  John Millman           /   21     /     4     / #85  Konstantin Kravchuk    /    4     /    17     / #86  Steve Darcis           /    5     /    10     / #87  Andreas Seppi          /   24     /           / #88  Donald Young           /   21     /     3     / #89  Mikhail Kukushkin      /   20     /     2     / #90  Ryan Harrison          /   11     /     8     / #91  Santiago Giraldo       /   13     /    13     / #92  Ricardas Berankis      /   15     /    10     /  #93  Dusan Lajovic          /   22     /     2     / #94  Nikoloz Basilashvili   /    9     /    14     /  #95  Carlos Berlocq         /    6     /    14     / #96  Dudi Sela              /   17     /     9     / #97  Radu Albot             /   11     /    17     / #98  Rogerio Dutra Silva    /    8     /    24     / #99  Daniil Medvedev        /    5     /    16     /   4 #100 Yoshihito Nishioka     /   12     /    14     /
Check out the next page to see some interesting observations we drew from it.. ALSO READ: The Not So Unexpected Retirement of Ana Ivanovic * Roger Federer played by far the smallest number of events in 2016 (7), followed by Juan Martin del Potro (13), Steve Darcis (15), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (16), Rafael Nadal (16), Novak Djokovic (16), Andy Murray(17), and Pierre-Hugues Herbert (17) * The busiest players in the Top 20 were Dominic Thiem (27), Grigor Dimitrov (26), David Goffin (25), Roberto Bautista Agut (25) * Lucas Pouille is the only player inside the Top 30 who played Challenger event, he went to Guadalajara after early exit in Indian Wells and reached the quarter-final * Joao Sousa (33), Albert Ramos-Vinolas (32), Benoit Paire (32), Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (31), Steve Johnson (29), Viktor Troicki (29), and Pablo Carreno Busta (28) played the most ATP tournaments this season * 9 players from the Top 50 mixed ATP and Challenger tournaments, Paolo Lorenzi and Florian Mayer entered 6 Challengers each * In his comeback season, Juan Martin del Potro was in the draw of 13 events and took the most from it, finishing inside the Top 40 without too much effort and constant playing * Between 51-100 position, only 5 players stayed away from the Challenger Tour, and they are Alexandr Dolgopolov, Kevin Anderson, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Guido Pella and Andreas Seppi * A similar number of tournaments at both levels: Karen Khachanov (10-12), Yen-Hsun Lu (9-9), Dustin Brown (12-9), Gastao Elias (13-16), Ryan Harrison (11-8), Santiago Giraldo (13-13), Yoshihito Nishioka (12-14) * Players who spent much more time on Challengers than on the ATP Tour: Gerald Melzer (6-20), Adam Pavlasek (3-20), Jordan Thompson (10-21), Thiago Monteiro (6-16), Konstantin Kravchuk (4-17), Rogerio Dutra Silva (8-24), Daniil Medvedev (5-16) * Top 100 players with the biggest number of Challengers played: Facundo Bagnis (17), Gerald Melzer (20), Horacio Zeballos (18), Adam Pavlasek (20), Jordan Thompson (21), Konstantin Kravchuk (17), Radu Albot (17), Rogerio Dutra Silva (24) * Daniil Medvedev is the only player ranked in the Top 100 who played Futures in 2016, entering 4 events from the lowest professional level .

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