Ask any casual tennis fan to name some players on the ATP Tour and the answers are likely to be the same. Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are sure to mentioned most frequently.
Rightly so, these are four players who have been performing at the very top of men’s tennis for a number of years. When a major tennis tournament comes around, such as Wimbledon or the French Open, cast one eye at the bookmaker’s favorites and these names are sure to be at the top. The location of the tournament and the surface it is played on seems almost to be irrelevant in the modern game. The same names are talked about as potential winners, regardless.
However, there are a number of players, perhaps under the radar to the casual observer, who are playing very well and having an excellent 2015.
The obvious candidate as most underrated player so far this season, has to be Stanislas Wawrinka. Having reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January and tasted tremendous success by winning the French Open, Wawrinka was propelled to number four in the world. Prior to success at the French Open, Wawrinka had won both the Aircel Chennai Open and the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, in Rotterdam. Coupled with this, a semi-final place at the ATP World Tour Masters event in Rome, shows how well Wawrinka has been performing. Given his current standing on tour and prior Australian Open win, it’s difficult to call Wawrinka the most underrated player on the ATP Tour but he is rarely mentioned as a serious contender, along with Djokovic et al, come the major events.
A few places below Wawrinka in the current ATP rankings is David Ferrer. The Spaniard is yet to win a Grand Slam tournament but has been enjoying a fantastic 2015 to date. Three tournament victories coming at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, Rio Open and the Abierto Mexicano Telcel, highlight what a good season Ferrer is having. In addition to these triumphs, Ferrer has also reached the semi-finals of two tour events and the quarter-finals of four, including the French Open. Ferrer is a player who is capable of defeating any player on his day and no one wants to draw him in a tournament, especially considering his determined style of play. This season has been fantastic so far, yet Ferrer remains one of the most underrated players on the ATP Tour.
Looking further down the rankings and a player who has been outperforming his place of number 53 in the world is Gilles Muller. Born in Luxembourg, the 32 year old has been a pro since 2001 and reached his best ever ranking on the ATP Tour, rising to number 34 in March this year. This coincided with a quarter-final appearance at the Aircel Chennai Open and progress to the fourth round of the Australian Open, defeating the likes of Roberto Bautista Agut and John Isner on the way. Both of those players are ranked higher than Muller, who was at it again at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, defeating David Goffin and current world number 11, Grigor Dimitrov on his way to the quarter-finals. Thus proving, that Muller is a very dangerous opponent, who should not be underestimated by any player this season, whatever their standing in the game.
Ranked slightly above Muller is Pablo Andujar. The Spaniard, having been ranked at number 67 in the world earlier this season, showed everyone what he is capable of in Barcelona. A fantastic run through to the final of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, ended in defeat to Kei Nishikori but the tournament highlighted what an underrated player the 29 year old is. During the course of the tournament, Andujar defeated four players ranked above him on the tour, including Leonardo Mayer, Feliciano Lopez, Fabio Fognini and David Ferrer. To defeat these players over the course of the same week shows real ability and to make the final of a tournament featuring Rafael Nadal, Milos Raonic, Marin Cilic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga makes Andujar a dangerous player.
Another player, who is underrated on the ATP Tour is Gael Monfils. The Frenchman is capable of beating any player when 100% focused and proved this when defeating both Grigor Dimitrov and Roger Federer, without dropping a set at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte Carlo. Very inconsistent but capable of big victories, Monfils is always a dangerous player in the draw of any tournament.
It’s difficult to pick out one name in particular when assessing who is this most underrated player on the ATP Tour this season. All of the names mentioned above are certainly not given the credit they deserve for their ability. However, despite being ranked 7 in the world, David Ferrer continues to be the most underrated player in men’s tennis. Having reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon in two of the last three years, Ferrer is still placed out at 150/1 with the bookmakers to win the event this year. This means there are 13 other players who are fancied to perform better than Ferrer at the tournament and this underlines how the Spaniard is the most underrated player this season.