Former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski once was dubbed “the Polish Cannon,” but that description might be even more apt for towering, hard-serving Jerzy Janowicz. The 23-year-old from Lodz failed to win a title in 2013, and had trouble holding onto the career-high ranking of No. 14 that he hit in August (Janowicz ended up No. 21). Expect him to be hunting payback in 2014.
Janowicz is one of those wonderful exceptions to the rule—the potential Grand Slam champion who more or less popped up out of nowhere, with none of the developmental advantages enjoyed by so many of his peers, yet who may be destined to surpass most of them thanks to a combination of big game and big guts.
It wasn’t much more than a year ago that Janowicz qualified for the Paris Masters 1000 and belted his way to the final. Janowicz has done a pretty good job backing up that great run, although he slumped dramatically after he threatened to win Wimbledon (he lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Andy Murray).
Ad-In: We can be blunt about this. Janowicz could continue to struggle and watch his ranking drop like a rock down a well, and then win Wimbledon—or perhaps any other of the non-clay Grand Slam events. But that sizzling serve, big forehand, and Janowicz’s willingness to use the drop shot and heavily cut slice backhand will reap the most rewards at most prestigious Grand Slam of them all.
Ad-Out: It’s hard to imagine Janowicz’s serve deserting him entirely, but even if it does on just a few critical occasions, his year could be ruined. A moody guy, he's only played in just six Grand Slam events and lost in his last one (the U.S. Open) to world No. 247 Maximo Gonzalez. More misfires like that would be hard for this hothead to bear.
As we approach the new year, we'll take a closer look at what's in store for the past year's top performers. To read more of our 2014 Season Previews, click here.