A glance at the rankings on both tours might cause a double-take, as a number of players we've been accustomed to seeing at or near the top are far off their career highs. In tennis, though, the opportunity is always there for a comeback, with no better time to turn things around than a new season.
Here’s a look at several players who will be trying to return the familiar confines of the Top 10—or at least much higher than their current standings—in 2020.
Juan Martin del Potro (No. 123; career-high No. 3)
If there’s any player in tennis that knows what it takes to make a comeback, it’s the Argentine. In 2018, del Potro was in the midst of one of the best seasons of his injury-plagued career before being sidelined by a knee issue toward the end of the year. He played some in 2019 before the knee gave him more problems, eventually sidelining him for the rest of the year. Del Potro has climbed back from the rankings hinterlands before on multiple occasions, and has the mind-set required to face such challenges. When he returns to the tour, he’ll be one of the most dangerous floaters in any draw—until he regains his place among the elite again.
Garbine Muguruza (No. 35; career-high No. 1)
From 2015 to 2017, the Spaniard won two out of three Grand Slam finals and reached the top of the world. But in 2018, health issues and a drop in performance began to creep in, prompting a drop in the rankings. The struggles continued throughout this past season, as Muguruza finished outside of the Top 30, winning just one singles title. As she’s demonstrated throughout the bulk of her career, though, Muguruza is a threat on all surfaces and can offer a challenge to any of the top players—provided her confidence approaches the level of her best seasons, which weren’t too long ago.
Jack Sock (no current ranking; career-high No. 8)
The past two seasons on the singles court have essentially been lost ones for the former top-ranked American. After struggling with his form in 2018—following a season in which he reached the Top 10 for the first time—Sock got out of the gates slowly in 2019 before a thumb injury caused him to miss the bulk of the year. Sock finished out the year on the Challenger circuit, but struggled there as well. Because he was unable to defend his points at the Paris Masters from the year prior, Sock fell from the singles rankings entirely. If there’s any advantage to such a disastrous campaign, it's that Sock won’t have any points to defend, as he works his way back into main draws through qualifying and wild cards.
Maria Sharapova (No. 131; career-high No. 1)
This year started off with promise for the five-time Grand Slam champion: Sharapova went 5-2 between her first two tournaments, a stretch that included a fourth-round showing at the Australian Open. But she was forced to withdraw from her next tournament in St. Petersburg due to a shoulder injury and didn’t return to the court for several months. The former world No. 1 struggled through the summer grass- and hard-court stretches before shutting down her season after the US Open. Sharapova has battled back from shoulder surgery in the past, and will look to try to make another big move again.
Victoria Azarenka (No. 50; career-high No. 1)
The former world No. 1, who returned from pregnancy hiatus in 2017, has made significant strides over the past two years, returning to the Top 100 in 2018 and finishing in the Top 50 this year. Azarenka also advanced to her first singles final since 2016 in Monterrey, and won her first two doubles titles in nine years. Teaming up with Ashleigh Barty. Belarus’ best-ever player also advanced to the US Open doubles final, losing to countrywoman Aryna Sabalenka and Elise Mertens. Sabalenka has emerged as one of the top young talents in the women’s game, with her ranking hovering around the Top 10; the two-time Australian Open champion will be looking to join her there next year.