The 2014 AAMI Classic at Kooyong Tennis Club has assembled an amazing player line-up featuring three players from the current top 10 world rankings; two young, promising players in the top 25; two former top 10 players and Aussie legend Lleyton Hewitt.Let’s have a look at these players, what they achieved in 2013 and their AAMI Classic pedigree.
AAMI Classic Top Guns : Players Currently Ranking in the World Top 10
Nationality – Czech; Current World Ranking – 7
- 2013 was a decent year for Berdych, dropping one place in the rankings after finishing 2012 at number 6.
- Although Berdych didn’t win any ATP singles titles in 2013, he was a member of the Czech team that retained the Davis Cup with victory over Serbia.
- At the 2013 Grand Slams Berdych’s best result was reaching the quarterfinals at the Austalian Open and Wimbledon. On both occasions Berdych was defeated by Novak Djokovic.
- 2014 will be Berdych’s fourth consecutive appearance at the AAMI Classic. Although he is yet to make the final.
Nationality – Swiss; Current World Ranking – 8
- After finishing both 2011 and 2012 with a world ranking of 17 Wawrinka had an impressive 2013 achieving a career high ranking of 8.
- Qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals for the first time, where Wawrinka reached the semi-finals losing to Djokovic.
- Won the Portugal Open in April, Wawrinka’s sole ATP title in 2013 and the fourth of his career.
- Other than at Wimbledon, where Wawrinka lost in the first round to Hewitt, the 2013 Grand Slams saw Wawrinka play some of his best tennis.
- At the US Open Wawrinka reached his first Grand Slam semi-final, losing in 5 sets to Djokovic after being up 2 sets to 1.
- Djokovic also got the better of Wawrinka in 5 sets in the fourth round of the Australian Open. Where the final set was decided 12-10. For many fans this was the best match of the tournament.
- At Roland Garros Wawrinka was unlucky to be drawn against Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, to whom he lost in 3 sets after defeating Richard Gasquet in 5 sets the round before.
- Wawrinka will be making his second appearance at the AAMI Classic. In 2009 Roger Federer defeated Wawrinka in the final.
Nationality – French; Current World Ranking – 9
- 2013 was a successful year for Gasquet, he climbed 1 place in the world rankings and won 3 ATP titles at Moscow, Montpellier and Doha.
- Finished 2013 as the French number 1 for the first time since 2007.
- Gasquet qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals for the first time since 2007, although he was defeated in all 3 round robin matches.
- At the US Open Gasquet became only the second Frenchman in the Open Era to reach the semi-finals at this event (the other being Cedric Pioline). This was Gasquet’s second career Grand Slam semi-final after Wimbledon in 2007.
- 2014 will be Gasquet’s first appearance at the AAMI Classic.
AAMI Classic Young Guns
Nationality – Japanese; Current World Ranking – 17
- Nishikori reached a career high ranking of 11 in 2013 having started the year ranked 19.
- Winning at Memphis was Nishikori’s sole ATP title for the year and the third of his career.
- Nishikori’s best Grand Slam result came at the Australian Open and Roland Garros where he made the fourth round.
- 2014 will be the third consecutive year that Nishikori has played at the AAMI Classic.
Nationality – Bulgarian; Current World Ranking – 23
- Climbed 25 places in the world rankings in 2013, reaching a career high ranking of 22 in October 2013.
- Made his first ATP final in Brisbane, where Dimitrov was defeated by Murray.
- Won his maiden ATP title in Stockholm.
- At Roland Garros and Wimbledon he was defeated by Djokovic in the third round and Grega Zemjla in the second round respectively.
- This will be Dimitrov’s first appearance at the AAMI Classic.
AAMI Classic Mavericks : Former Top 10 Players
Nationality – Spanish; Current World Ranking – 30
- Verdasco reached a career high ranking of 7 in 2009.
- In singles 2013 was a reasonable year for Verdasco, making the final at Bastad although he dropped 6 places in the rankings during the year.
- Playing doubles, with David Marrero, Verdasco won 3 titles including the year end World Tour Finals.
- At the 2013 Grand Slams it was a case of 5 set defeats in each tournament for Verdasco. Murray came back from 2 sets down in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon to defeat him. With this history Verdasco has got to be one to watch at the 2014 Australian Open if you like five set matches.
- After a two year gap Verdasco is back at the AAMI Classic in 2014. Verdasco played in the 2009-11 tournaments winning in 2010 against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Janko Tipsarevic – Since publishing this article Tipsarevic has withdrawn. Gilles Simon is now playing
Nationality – Serbian; Current World Ranking – 36
- From a career high of 8 in April 2012 and finishing the year end ranked 9, 2013 was a disappointing year for Tipsarevic, suffering from several injuries and illnesses, dropping 27 places to 36 in the world.
- Tipsarevic successfully defended the Chennai tournament for his sole ATP tournament victory in 2013.
- Tipsarevic made the fourth round of the Australian Open and US Open losing to Nicolas Almagro (to whom he retired injured) and David Ferrer respectively.
- Like Verdasco, Tipsarevic frequently features in five set matches at the Grand Slams. Out of 10 matches in 2013, where there wasn’t a retirement, 3 went to 5 sets and a further 2 to 4 sets.
AAMI Classic Aussie Gun
Nationality – Australian; Current World Ranking – 60
- Although a former World Number 1, Hewitt made steady progress back up the rankings in 2013. Climbing 22 places from a 2012 year end ranking of 82.
- Hewitt made the final of Newport for the second year running, but has not won an ATP title since Halle in 2010.
- Hewitt lost in the first round of the Australian Open and at Roland Garros where he faced top 20 ranked players. At Wimbledon Hewitt defeated Wawrinka in the first round to then lost to Dustin Brown (then ranked 186 in the world) in the next round. Hewitt made the fourth round at the US Open where he was defeated by Mikhail Youzhny. Hewitt featured in 5 and 4 set matches 3 times each in the 8 Grand Slam ties he played in 2013.
- Hewitt is the 2011 and 2013 AAMI Classic Champion. Can Hewitt make it a third title in 2014?
After Hewitt’s kids stole the show in 2013 will they also be back for a repeat performance in 2014?
With such a quality player line-up, I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome of the draw when it is made on Tuesday 7 January 2014.
- Current world rankings taken from ATPworldtour.com 9 December 2013.
- 2012 year end rankings sourced from ATPworldtour.com 19 November 2012.
Until next time
Grand Slam Gal