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Review: British men's tennis in 2014

Sports Mole takes a look at the how the depth of British players in the ATP world rankings has improved during 2014.

The manner in which the success and failure of British tennis is determined is usually dependant on the performances of Andy Murray during a calendar year, but during 2014 there have been signs that home-grown players are progressing throughout the system to give themselves an opportunity to make the big time in the sport.

After last year's back surgery, three tournament victories, making at least the last eight at each of the Grand Slams and qualification for the ATP World Tour Finals should be considered as a solid achievement for Murray, but it's below the top-100 mark where British supporters have every reason to be encouraged.

James Ward has run himself into the ground, playing 31 tournaments to move to the brink of breaking into double figures, while young duo Liam Broady and Kyle Edmund have made the breakthrough on the men's tour with notable performances during the past month. There is still plenty of work to be done, but with several other players enjoying a profitable year in terms of ranking points, the future should be considered bright for British tennis.

Murray aside, Sports Mole takes a look at the performances of the players who are adding greater depth to the British roster.

1. James Ward

James Ward of Great Britain celebrates match point after his five set victory against Sam Querrey of the United States during day one of the Davis Cup World Group first round between the U.S. and Great Britain at PETCO Park on January 31, 2014© Getty Images

Ranking at end of 2013: 161

Current ranking: 102

Highlights of 2014 Making the main draw of three Masters Series events, qualifying for Roland Garros, two challenger finals.

Review: After improving 86 places during 2013, the start of this year for James Ward was all about continual progression, but that didn't materialise as he went up and down the standings. However, he found his name in the spotlight after a remarkable comeback in the Davis Cup where he overturned a two-sets-to-one deficit to defeat Sam Querrey, a result that acted as the catalyst for Great Britain to beat the United States in their own backyard.

A last-16 place in Dubai and benefiting from a lucky-loser spot in Indian Wells kick-started his season from an individual perspective, before he qualified for the main draw at Roland Garros only to fall to Tommy Robredo in the first round. The grass-court season didn't go the way of the Londoner but his exploits in the second half of the year have catapulted him up the world rankings.

After performing well Stateside on the challenger tour, Ward reached the last 32 in Cincinnati before spending September and October accumulating vital ranking points in Europe and Asia. His year ended with a final appearance in Traralgon and as it stands, that will be enough to him an automatic spot for the Australian Open in January.

Target for 2015: Win a fourth challenger tournament of his career and qualify automatically for all four Grand Slams.

2. Liam Broady

Liam Broady of Great Britain serves during his boys' singles final match against Filip Peliwo of Canada on Day Fourteen of the 2012 US Open on November 3, 2014© Getty Images

Ranking at end of 2013: 473

Current ranking: 188

Highlight of 2014 Reaching Charlottesville challenger final, winning four futures tournaments.

Review: As he continued to struggle with the transition from junior to men's tennis, 2014 looked like being an ordinary year for Liam Broady but in the space of three months, the left-hander has started to deliver on the potential that he displayed in reaching two Grand Slam finals as a junior.

After back-to-back futures wins in the summer, Broady started to make his mark on the challenger tour before a final appearance in Charlottesville and a semi-final finish in Knoxville helped the 20-year-old crack the world's top 200 and with little ranking points to defend at the start of next year, Broady has an opportunity to make another surge up the standings.

Target for 2015: Continue progress up world rankings, win a challenger tournament, and make his Grand Slam debut.

3. Kyle Edmund

Kyle Edmund of Great Britain celebrates a point against Julien Benneteau of France during their first round match on March 19, 2014© Getty Images

Ranking at end of 2013: 376

Current ranking: 192

Highlight of 2014 Yokohama, winning two futures tournaments, making Masters Series debut in Indian Wells.

Review: Along with Broady, Kyle Edmund has been given the tag as the future of British tennis and while he experienced a confidence-hitting five defeats in a row during the closing months of the season, it has been a year of development and adjustment for the 19-year-old that ended with huge encouragement for the next 12 months.

Edmund began the year by excelling on the futures tour before he was handed a wildcard at Indian Wells to experience a Masters Series event for the first time. His results in the build-up to Wimbledon weren't great but two semi-final appearances in challengers in July saw him progress nearly 90 places in the world rankings.

He followed that with two last-eight appearances in Spain and Thailand but he lost his way soon afterwards and it seemed as though to would end an otherwise rewarding year in disappointing fashion. However, after finding some form in Traralgon, Edmund broke new ground last week by reaching the final in Yokohama to move to a career-high of 192 in the world rankings.

Target for 2015: Make a couple of challenger finals and qualify for a Grand Slam.

4. Dan Evans

British qualifier Dan Evans plays a forehand on his way to a shock victory over Kei Nishikori in the first round of the US Open on August 26, 2013© Getty Images

Ranking at end of 2013: 150

Current ranking: 289

Highlight of 2014 Making semi-finals in ATP 250 event in Zagreb.

Review: By his own standards, Dan Evans enjoyed a stellar 2013 that saw him beat Kei Nishikori on the way to reaching the third round of the US Open, and after a brilliant run at February's ATP 250 event in Zagreb that saw him beat Philipp Kohlschreiber to reach the last four, Evans was well placed to make a bid for the top 100 during the middle part of the year.

However, despite a notable victory over Jurgen Melzer at Queen's, a mixture of loss of form and injury has seen the 24-year-old plummet down the world rankings but if he can stay fit and showcase the ability that he undoubtedly possesses, there's no reason why he can't get be competing with Broady and Edmund for the tag of British number three.

Target for 2015: Remain injury-free to give himself the best possible chance of returning to the world's top 200.

Best of the rest

Daniel Cox of Great Britain takes a break during his Men's Singles first round match against James Ward of Great Britain on day one of the AEGON Championships at Queens Club on June 6, 2011© Getty Images

Edward Corrie currently holds the position as British number five after a productive year saw him reach seven futures finals, three of which he won, and the 26-year-old is well placed to join his British teammates in cracking the world's top 200.

A three-month absence from the tour denied Daniel Smethurst the opportunity to build on an impressive start to 2014, but Brydan Klein can make inroads up the standings from number 291 with just 20 points to defend during the first half of 2015.

Despite a solid performance in the summer, Dan Cox has slipped down to 314 while the likes of Marcus Willis, Alexander Ward and Oliver Golding will be hoping to get their noses above the 300 mark over the next 12 months.

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Kyle Edmund of Great Britain celebrates a point against Julien Benneteau of France during their first round match on March 19, 2014
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