My tenth and final Player to Watch pick for 2014 is bound to confound, surprise and possibly annoy. After all, there are so many worthy candidates, but only one more can be chosen.
So. Could it be Lucas Pouille, the 19-year-old French lad who gained almost 250 places in the ATP rankings this year and for a brief time was the only teen in the Top 200 alongside 2014 Player to Watch number seven, Nick Kyrgios?
Or is it possibly Filip Peliwo, the 19-year-old Canadian former junior #1 who rose over 250 places in this years rankings and is now training in Spain with Galo Blanco?
Since former US college players who are older than 22 are now allowed under the Colette Lewis amendment of 2013, will it be Tennys Sandgren, the 22-year-old University of Tennessee standout whom we last saw winning the Champaign Challenger and improving his 2013 ranking by almost 50 places?
Howzabout Karen Khachanov, the Russian 17-year-old who shocked the world by making the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 Kremlin Cup, beating Janko Tipsarevic along the way, and raising his ranking a mere 1,458 places this season?
Or Karim Hossam, the 19-year-old Egyptian who climbed over 800 ranking rungs in 2013 and won four Egyptian Futures titles?
The answers: Non. No. Nope. Nyet. And sorry, Karim.
Nay, this year’s final Player to Watch is someone for whom I’ve shamelessly bent my own arbitrary rules, including him even though he’s ranked inside the original “between #150 and #500 in the world” criterion I established for original PTW selection.