The Spaniard completed his 15th season since turning pro in 2005 this year. It was yet another great year from the 31-year-old. It started with quarterfinals at AO where he lost in 4 tight sets to Tsitsipas and a tournament win at Doha. Much to his surprise, he was amongst tennis royalty with a sem-final run at Wimbledon. So much so he had to move his planned bachelor party from Ibiza to London. These results saw him reach his career-high ranking of 9.
There are some very talented youngsters just outside the top 10, so he will need to maintain his level if he is to be in the mix for the top 10 in 2020.
RBA evokes purely positive thoughts when I think of him: tough, hard, exhilarating, humble
Tough: You don’t spend 275 straight weeks in the top 30 on the brutal ATP tour without being tough.
Hard: In body and mind. When an opponent realises they are going to play him, you can be sure they know it will be a hard day at the office. Just ask Djokovic who RBA came back to beat from a set down (1-6) in Miami this year.
Exhilarating: Not a word too many would associate, but he has pulled off some exciting wins in his career. Shows very little emotion during the match, but when he does like at the end of a hard-fought victory, he lets it all hang out with a mighty Vamos!
Humble: No frills, hard-working, get the job done kind of guy. A player you want on your team as Rafa would attest at the recent Davis Cup.
Likes: Strong on both wings, particularly the forehand. Excellent defence. Gives everything he has.
Dislikes: He can be a little bit of a grunter at times. Nothing else really to dislike he is making the most of the talent he has.
Areas for improvement: At 31, with his consistency, not much. He does, however, struggle to get service winners more than most. At 183 cms (6 feet) he is up against the new tennis breed of giants so strategy and shot selection can always be tuned. Homework for this could be watching some YouTube Fed magic.