#1 Dan Evans (Great Britain)
Dan Evans is one of the most underrated players on the current ATP tour. Ranked at 28, Dan has had a great career so far with many more successful years to come. Dan has the ability to adapt his game in a lot of different ways which enables him to win lots of close matches. Not only is he smart, he is extremely talented, has immense ‘feel’ and has the fighting spirit of a lion.
Standing at 5ft 9, Dan is under the ‘average height’ so he has to have other strengths to his game for him to be successful. More times than not, he has been able to achieve this and get wins over many different players using a variety of tactics. Let’s look at the Dubai ATP 500 this year:
R1: beat Fognini 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 (Fognini; played consistent, long rallies in match)
R2: beat Herbert 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (Herbert; strong serve, volley player)
QF: beat Rublev 6-2, 7-6 (Rublev; incredibly powerful, attacking baseliner)
SF: lost to world #6: Tsitsipas
Dan was able to play three different styles of tennis against three completely different players in these wins. In his quarter-final match, he came up against Andrey Rublev who was in incredible form with already winning two titles in 2020 and Round 4 at AO. Dan won the match from giving Andrey no pace to work with (and therefore not allowing him any rhythm) and used his backhand slice to great effect. He constantly rushed to the net or would force Rublev to come to net, which he isn’t comfortable doing. Dan has not only used this tactic in this case but also in many other matches during his career.
Having a top 30 ranking is the highest it’s ever been for Dan Evans so it will be interesting to see how his results will keep developing the next few years. His recent success is finally getting the attention he deserves and with this ‘boosted’ ranking it will make it easier for him to get better draws in the grand slam and ATP 1000 events. His playing style is entertaining to watch (much similar to Roger Federer) and I believe he is one of the smartest players on the tour.
#2 Andreas Seppi (Italy)
Andreas Seppi is an ATP veteran on the tour now aged at 36. Ranked at 88, Andreas has ended the year inside the top 100 for 14 consecutive years, with the duration of these years being ranked inside the top 60. Andreas has also reached 10 singles finals in his career (winning 3 of those) with trophies on all three surfaces.
Andreas Seppi has a very distinctive playing style, quite similar to Gilles Simon who was mentioned in yesterday’s article. He has an overall very solid game with no real ‘standout’ strengths and relies on consistency and tactics to win his matches. It’s rare that a player with not any overwhelming strengths can be such a consistent player on the ATP circuit for the duration of their career, so Andreas deserves a lot of credit for his successes. I find what Seppi does best (and his best attribute) is nullifying his opponents strengths and/or exploiting their weaknesses, both tactically and technically. This could be hitting consistently deep shots to his opponent's backhand or finding angles/changing pace to not allow them to attack.
Seppi has had an amazing career and has left nothing out on the court. His wins over Nadal in 2008 and Federer at the 2015 Australian will definitely be highlighted in his C.V when he retires. I hope fans around the world can understand and take inspiration from his achievements from the way he chose to play tennis... for sure one of the smartest around.
‘Bigger’ players (not discussed in this article) but are in this conversation: