Photo special: Favourite moments with Murray, Cilic and more in 2014
Marianne Bevis takes a look back at some of the ATP Tour season in photos
2014 was a year of big milestones for many but of lost ground for others.
On the plus side, there were two new Grand Slam winners. Stan Wawrinka, who threw down the gauntlet in 2013 with two searing contests against Novak Djokovic at the Australian and US Opens, started this year with the Chennai title and then beat Djokovic, Tomas Berdych and Rafael Nadal to win in Melbourne.
Wawrinka was almost 29 when he broke through the ‘glass ceiling’, Marin Cilic was 25 when he brushed aside Berdych, Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori without dropping a set in a dazzling display in New York. For those who had seen his demolition of Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on his way to the Rotterdam final, book-ended by victories in Zagreb and Delray Beach, plus his burgeoning confidence under new coach Goran Ivansevic, it had been coming.
But this was also the year of ‘generation 90’, the wave of talented men born in the 1990s who had been edging their way towards the top 10.
23-year-olds Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic were both contenders to become the youngest man to reach the World Tour Finals since Juan Martin del Potro.
In the event it would be Raonic who won the race to the top 10 after reaching his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the French Open, topped it with a semi finish at Wimbledon, and reached the Shanghai final.
Then Dimitrov followed after a Grand Slam semi run at Wimbledon—having reached the quarters in Australia—and three titles on three different surfaces, plus made semi finishes at the Toronto and Rome Masters.
A late burst by another 23-year-old also promised great things for 2015. David Goffin returned to the tour in January ranked 110 after breaking his wrist last autumn. Following Wimbledon, he put together a 44-4 run that took in four Challenger titles plus his first two Tour titles in Kitzbuhel and Moselle as well as a final finish in Basel. He ended the year ranked 22 and with the ATP Comeback Player of the Year Award.
Nishikori had long promised to become the first 23-year-old to break into the top 10 but was hampered by injuries. Now, though, his prodigious talent took him past numerous milestones: the first Asian man in the top 10, the first to qualify for the World Tour Finals, and incidentally the first player to debut in the year-end top five since Andy Murray in 2008. He won four titles and reached his first Masters and Grand Slam finals to end the year at a career-high No5.
Over the horizon, too, came some charismatic teenagers ready to snap at the heels of the class of 1990. The standout junior of 2013, Borna Coric, rose from outside the top 300 to become the youngest player in the top 100. He was the first 17-year-old to reach two ATP quarter-finals in a season since Nadal in 2004, but he saved the best for last, beating Nadal en route to the Basel semis.
The highest-ranked teenager was 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios at No52, who thrilled Wimbledon with a quarter-final run through Richard Gasquet and Nadal.
Not that there hasn’t been room for older names to flourish. Lleyton Hewitt, age 33, won Brisbane and Newport. Feliciano Lopez, also 33, finished the year at a career-high No14, winning Eastbourne, making the semis in Toronto and Shanghai. He made one of the runs of his career at Queen’s to lose the final in three tie-breaks, the most games in an ATP final in 2014.
His 32-year-old compatriot Tommy Robredo lost the longest ATP match, 3hr20min, against Murray in Valencia less than a month after losing a 2hr30min final to the same man in Shenzhen.
Surgery sent Robredo plummeting outside the top 100 at the start of 2013, but this year he recorded more than 40 match wins for the first time since 2009. In the space of a month, though, he twice failed to convert five match points against the Briton.
Injury played a part at the very top of the game, too. After a stunning comeback in 2013 to reclaim No1, Nadal was hit by another painful season. Despite winning a record ninth French Open, he was forced out of the entire US Open Series with a wrist injury, then was hit by appendicitis when he returned for the Asian swing, and in Basel announced his withdrawal from the rest of the season to recover from an appendectomy and to heal an ailing back. Yet he still ended 2014 at No3, with four titles from seven finals.
The year was even tougher for Del Potro. He began 2014 by reaching the top four for the first time in almost four years. Back then, he withdrew from the tour for right wrist surgery: This time, he bid farewell in Dubai to undergo left wrist surgery—and is yet to return.
And so to Murray, who rejoined the tour in January after back surgery and, not surprisingly, took time to regain consistent form. His best result came at Roland Garros, a semi run stopped by Nadal, and though he reached the quarters of the other three Majors, he did not get a win over Nadal, Federer or Djokovic all year.
His cause was not helped by the sudden departure of coach Ivan Lendl in March, by further discontent in his camp when he appointed Amelie Mauresmo in June, and by parting company with long-standing partners, Dani Vallverdu and Jez Green this winter.
But by the year’s end, there were Murray moments to admire. His bid for WTF qualification saw him play six back-to-back weeks and tournaments to win three titles after the US Open—including those two gruelling Robredo finals.
He was clearly burnt out by the time he faced Federer at the O2 in a bruising beating, but he made the home crowd more than a little proud by winning the ATP’s prestigious Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award. And he topped it all with the announcement of his engagement to Kim Sears.
Not a great year for Murray, perhaps, but not a bad one either.
See more ATP photos from 2014 on the Flickr slideshow below: