Tomas Berdych had one of the worst good years ever. He maintained his position in the middle of the Top 10 (he was ranked as high as No. 5 last August), but didn’t win a single title. In his finest moment, he led his Czech countrymen to successful defense of the Davis Cup championship, and that counts for a lot—especially because the Czech Republic beat Novak Djokovic and his fellow Serbians in the final.

If you’ve been paying attention at all, you know Berdych has long been one of the premier head cases on the ATP tour, and the vigil his fans have kept waiting for his breakthrough is becoming tedious. But being the seventh-best player on the planet isn’t such a bad gig, and Berdych has been expert at holding that elite position. He hasn’t been higher than No. 5 in his career—nor out of the Top 10 since the middle of 2010.

Clearly, Berdych is doing many things right. But he still tends to make costly errors at critical times against top players. Dismiss this former Wimbledon finalist (2010) at your peril, though—in 2013 he had wins over Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray. For Berdych, that’s just business as usual.

Ad-In: Berdych got a taste of the big time when he made the Wimbledon final in 2010, and there’s no doubt that it propelled him to another level—if not yet the highest level. He’s 28 and fully mature. If he can overcome a tendency to choke at key moments, he could win a major.

Ad-Out: Berdych may find it difficult to sustain his level of excellence. But Berdych has so much game that it’s hard to envision him falling too far—and easy to see him playing less consistently but winning more big matches, or titles. Would it be so bad if he fell to No. 13, but won more?

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.