With the 2017 season of tennis around the corner, everyone is anticipating how it will pan out. The upcoming season is mouth-watering. But, it is also quite unpredictable. It’s difficult to determine what to expect from Rafa or Roger as they come back from their respective injuries. Novak is not playing his best tennis. A squadron of youngsters has appeared on the scene waiting to make a big impact. Here, I enumerate all the things that I expect to see next year. This article contains two parts. The contents of the two parts are as under:
Part 1: This part contains predictions on the members of the ‘Big 4’.
Part 2: This part contains predictions on young guns and Milos Raonic.
About Part 1
The first part contains predictions on the members of the ‘Big 4’ for the 2017 season of tennis. Here, I have listed all the results that I expect the ‘Big 4’ to achieve in the upcoming year.
Djokovic recaptures the top ranking from Murray
Novak started the 2016 season impressively. He played lights out tennis early down under annihilating Federer and Murray en route to his Australian Open title. This presented him for the second time in his career a possibility of clinching the Djokovic Slam. This time around, the Serb had the zeal to pull it off and win the coveted Roland Garros title to complete the Djokovic slam. He become the first player to win 4 slams in a row since Rod Laver did it in 1969. But, what started as a year of Novak’s glory would soon find him struggling to find motivation to go through the remainder of the season. His first shock came at Wimbledon where he lost to the no. 28 seed, Sam Querrey in the third round. He did win Toronto but never won another title in the season. He lost to Stan Wawrinka at the US Open and to his pursuer, Andy Murray at ATP World Tour Finals. Those losses meant he would lose his world no. 1 ranking after holding on to it for 122 consecutive weeks. He also ended his association with his coach Becker thinking he would be good on his own.
The second half of the season was to some extent lacklustre; it was so atleast by Djokovic’s lofty standards. But, it’s not the end of the world for Novak who is no ordinary athlete. He is someone would has spent 223 weeks on the world no. 1 spot and knows what it takes to deserve it. He knows the process. Certainly, he will be inspired to recapture the world no. 1 ranking from his rival Andy Murray. If he can show a bit of enthusiasm and spirit, the Oz Open can be a great place to turn the tables on Murray and gain momentum upfront. The odds are heavily in his favour given the surface that he enjoys playing on and his record at the venue in the past. We don’t know if Murray will again have a clay-court season like the one he had this year. Novak is the better clay courter and should rake in more points than Murray in the clay-season. Murray has 7960 points to defend after Roland Garros compared to Djokovic’s 3830. These factors will inspire the Serb to have some successful title runs thereby recapturing the top spot by the end of 2017. Murray will perform nearly as good but will fail to stop the Serb. Expect to see Djokovic at the pinnacle of the year end rankings in 2017.
What to expect: Djokovic wins one or more masters titles and one or two grand slams. He wins the year-end finals and finishes the year as the world no. 1. Murray finishes the year as a close runner-up having won one masters event and one grand slam.
Rafa and Roger try to regain their prominence
Roger’s off-season rehabilitation has been good. He seemed to be in a very bad shape this year owing to his knee injury. For his rehabilitation he took a sensible approach. He started out slowly and gradually stepped up the intensity of his preparation. He seems to be upbeat about his preparation. He is excited about being back on the tour. But, he also says at times that he is unsure about what to expect of his return. Well, who isn’t? As amazing as this man is, the tour is getting tougher and tougher with addition of new talents every year. Whatever it is, it’s going to be enjoyable to watch Roger up against the fresh talents like Zverev and Fritz.
What to expect: Seeding is going to be a major factor making his comeback to the top difficult. He reaches the semi-final or further in one grand slam at least. At slams, he will need favourable draws to go deep. He can still win a masters especially at Cincinatti. Reaching the final at Wimbledon is still very much possible if he is totally healthy and gets a draw that allows him to enter the semis with enough gas in the tank. US Open could be a favourable venue for him to go really deep in a grand slam since he would have possibly improved his ranking till then to receive a better seeding. The chances are slim, at best, of him winning a slam. He does have a chance of getting back into the top 10 but qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals will be a challenge.
Rafael Nadal got some of his form back prior to his withdrawl from the French Open. He was struggling to get wins over Djokovic but he did win the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and Barcelona Open en route to Roland Gaross. He also played a couple good matches at the French Open losing only 9 games in those two matches. He seemed to be getting into the rhythm before his wrist injury spoiled his season. However, it still looks like he can still play solid tennis especially on clay. With Carlos Moya in his corner now, he will get a lot of placebo. He has been a friend of Moya ever since he joined the tour. This association should give him good motivation to move forward. Moreover, it might help him to fix certain things about his game. He is a former world no. 1 and a French Open champion. So, he should be able to help Nadal prepare well for the clay season.
What to expect: It’s likely that he plays a good clay season. He should win the ATP 500 Barcelona Open and a masters tournament out of the three clay masters. If he avoids Djokovic, there’s a good chance that he plays another French Open final. Don’t expect him to win many titles on hard or grass courts. He will certainly finish in the top 10. He will have a good chance of finishing in the top 6.
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