Predicting the future is never easy, and in the ever-changing world of tennis, it can be pretty tough to have any idea who will be top-10 from one year to the next.
Back in 2013, French publication L’Equipe bravely attempted to look into its boule de cristal to learn who would be the best players on the planet at the start of 2018. Or so they thought.
Needless to say, it hasn’t quite gone to plan…
L’Equipe’s predicted top-10 looked like this:
L'Equipe's 2018 top-10 rankings prediction
And here’s how the actual rankings look:
Actual 2018 ATP rankings
10. Carreno Busta
Only two of their predicted top-10 (Grigor Dimitrov and Jack Sock) made it into the actual top-10 for the start of 2018, although, in fairness, injuries have played a big part in Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic’s absence from the list.
The less said about their shouts of Benoit Paire being world No. 2 and Jerzy Janowicz, Bernard Tomic and Ernests Gulbis all cracking the top-10, the better.
We’re not here to mock L’Equipe, though, we’re here to join in the fun… And it turns out it’s actually really, really difficult!
Surely, this time around, Nadal and Federer won’t be inside the top-10 in five years’ time… right?!
We will have to wait and see… But here’s our predicted top-10 for 2022.
1. Alexander Zverev (20) – current ranking: 4
Having already hit the dizzying heights of world No. 3 at the tender age of 20, Zverev is proving he can mix it with the best.
With two Masters 1000 titles under his belt, he’s shown he compete with anyone in a best-of-three sets match and as he develops physically, he will find himself going deeper and deeper in Slams.
With Federer, Nadal and Andy Murray all predicting their careers could be done long before 2022, Zverev will have many opportunities to add a few majors to his collection by this stage and has the temperament to be world No. 1.
2. Grigor Dimitrov (26) – current ranking: 3
The Bulgarian seems to have finally come of age after winning the ATP Finals, and with players peaking between 28 and 30 there could be plenty more to come from the Bulgarian.
He’s spoken of his intentions to add a major to his collection sooner rather than later, and once the top guys drop off, he will not fear anyone in the sport.
3. Denis Shapovalov (18) – current ranking: 51
A remarkable breakout in the American hard-court swing showed just how much talent the young Canadian has and he should be able to climb the rankings and crack the top-10 in the next three years – assuming he stays injury free.
Once he gets there, he seems level-headed enough to stay there, and who knows, he may even have a Grand Slam title under his belt by that stage.
4. Felix Auger-Aliassime (17) – current ranking: 159
Choosing a player outside the top-150 may seem rogue, but Shapovalov’s compatriot seems to be the real deal.
After picking up a couple of Challenger titles, despite his young age, the 17-year-old has surged up the rankings from outside the top-600 this year and has the game to go far beyond that.
It’s possibly ambitious to see him sitting inside the top-five at this stage, but where’s the fun in being conservative?
5. Dominic Thiem (23) – current ranking: 5
Another who has already cracked the top-five at a young age, Thiem seems the player most likely to benefit from Nadal’s eventual absence in the clay-court season.
A run to the semi-finals of Roland Garros and a win over Nadal in Rome show just how good he is on the surface, and in five years’ time, he will hope to have at least lifted the title in Roland Garros once.
Improvement is needed elsewhere, and a shorter schedule is surely a must, but Thiem will hope to be in-and-around the top-five.
6. Nick Kyrgios (22) – current ranking: 21
The unpredictable Aussie could just as easily have retired as he could be world No. 1 by this stage in his career – it’s really quite tough to say which way his professional life will go.
With such an abundance of talent and the opportunity to further mature, he should be a dead cert for the top-10 by this stage in his career, but nothing is ever certain with Kyrgios.
He could easily be higher (or a lot lower) but we’ll stick him in the middle of the road for now…
7. Novak Djokovic (30) – current ranking: 12
The Serb has outlined his plans to play into his 40s and he’s likely to be the only active member of the ‘Big Four’ at this stage (assuming Federer ever stops…!).
His attention to detail with diet and lifestyle should stand him in good stead to keep going for a few more years, but it will be a tough ask for him to sit atop of the rankings.
He could easily be higher but he could just have easily suffered an injury and been forced to end his career, so we’ll play it fairly conservatively and stick the 12-time Grand Slam champion in at No. 7.
8. Andrey Rublev (20) – current ranking: 39
Another to have shown he’s full of potential in 2018, the 20-year-old has already cracked the top-40 and reached the quarter-finals of the US Open.
There are still erratic parts of his game, but he’s capable of the top-10 and beyond if he keeps improving.
9. David Goffin (26) – current ranking: 7
He may not have the most glamorous game on the ATP Tour but Goffin has shown real improvement in 2017 and could well have been ranked even higher had he not suffered an incredibly unfortunate injury at Roland Garros.
By this stage, he’ll be 32 and his career will be closer to winding down, but he should have more longevity than the likes of Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori and may well still find himself in-and-around the top-10.
10. Hyeon Chung (21) – current ranking: 59
The South Korean impressed at the Next Gen Finals against his peers and he’s enjoyed some impressive results against Zverev, Goffin, Gael Monfils and Roberto Bautista Agut this season.
Although he’s shy and unassuming, he’s a real fighter on court and looks destined for the top-10.
So here is our forecasted top-10 for 2022:
Metro.co.uk's predicted 2022 top-10…
We look forward to being mercilessly trolled by you all in five years’ time when all 10 are hopelessly wrong and Nadal and Federer are still top of the rankings…
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