In a 2021 in which, despite his age, it was Novak Djokovic who dominated the Grand Slam tournaments, many players were definitively matured (Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev above all) or the next gen who took the stage (Jannik Sinner, Carlos Alcaraz and Sebastian Korda are the brightest stars).
To these two categories, however, we must add a third: that of surprises. If we say that the most difficult thing is not to reach the top but to stay there, there are many tennis players who in 2022 will be called to confirm the top-level season played this year, on pain of collapse in the world ranking.
Among the tennis players who have achieved unexpected results and who have matured the most, there is certainly Cameron Norrie. The 26-year-old Briton undoubtedly had the best season of his career, playing no less than 6 ATP finals in the calendar year and winning his first 2 tournaments, including the prestigious Indian Wells Master 1000 in an unpredictable final against Basilashvili.
These excellent results, combined with the third round achieved in three of the four slams, allowed him to push himself up to 13th position in the ranking and to participate, as a substitute for the injured Stefanos Tsitsipas, in the ATP Finals in Turin.
The British tennis player also holds the record for games played in 2021 (77), one more than Medvedev and Andrey Rublev. A speech similar to that of Norrie can be done for Aslan Karatsev, who at 28 year-old managed to obtain unimaginable results for the level shown in past years.
After being the first rookie in the open era to reach a slam semifinal (at the Australian Open), Karatsev finished the year, starting from 111th, in 18th position, having also occupied the 15th. This leap in the standings is the result, in addition to the points obtained with the semi-final slam, of the successes at the tournament in Dubai (ATP 500) and the 250 in Moscow, as well as the final of the ATP 250 in Belgrade (in which he beat in the semifinal the landlord Djokovic) lost to Berrettini.
At the end of the year he also triumphed with the Russian selection in the Davis Cup. On the other hand, the one who has matured by birth is Hubert Hurcacz (1997) who in 2021, together with Casper Ruud (1998), entered the Top-10 for the first time in his career.
The Polish tennis player reached the 9th position in the ranking thanks to the three tournaments he won (including the Miami Master 1000 won against his friend Sinner) and the semifinals reached at Wimbledon, results that led him to compete in the ATP Finals .
Absolute ruler of the clay was Casper Ruud, winner of 5 ATP 250 tournaments (three won within 20 days) including 4 on clay. The Norwegian capped off his excellent season by pushing up to the semi-finals of the ATP Finals and ending the year in 8th position.
These 4 tennis players will be asked to confirm the results obtained and to demonstrate that they deserve the positions currently occupied with the risk, otherwise, of falling in the standings.