Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2017 tennis season.
A year ago, we had been on a one-month hiatus after revamping the website when we started the new season, and this year it’s two weeks.
And even then, it’s mostly two weeks only because Christmas and New Years fell on Mondays—otherwise we likely would have kept going right through to 2018. But in any case, here we are today.
Here we are today, yes, with a new set of more or less and very or not very outlandish predictions for how we think this 2018 season will unfold.
Simona Halep finally wins a first Grand Slam title
Not that it matters, at all, but this first Grand Slam title apparently would mean everything in the eyes of many so let’s go ahead and give one to the Romanian this year.
…Also holds on to the year-end No. 1
Really, what validates Simona Halep as a player is the fact that she’s ranked at No. 1 on the WTA Tour. If she ever wins a Grand Slam title, it would be icing on the proverbial cake—not the reverse.
Andy Murray falls out of the top 30
In this era of internet #hottakes, this could be our boldest and craziest prediction yet.
…And doesn’t win a title in 2018
He’s already withdrawn from the upcoming Australian Open due to injury and has floated the idea of a possible surgery. Not that we’re happy about it.
Roger Federer retires
We foresee the foremost Swiss guy calling it quits after this 2018 season. Because he’s been going hard at it for 20 years. Because he’ll be 37 years old then. Because he’s won it all. Because maybe he wants to do something else? (Yeah, he probably won’t stop, not this year. But maybe!!)
Rafael Nadal does as well
The 31-year-old, you may have heard, enjoyed a renaissance of sorts last season, but over the previous few years Rafael Nadal has followed healthy seasons with injured and miserable ones.
Venus Williams also retires
Mostly for the same reasons that Roger Federer does.
Injuries spoil the 2018 season again
It’s already well on its way to becoming true, right? Maybe we won’t quite get the train wreck that was last season, but still: already, Serena Williams has stated she needs more time while Kei Nishikori and Murray won’t be in Melbourne for the year’s first Grand Slam event. This sucks. Even if we’re proven right, this sucks.
But not Juan Martin del Potro’s
Here’s a little bit of wishful thinking on our part. The 29-year-old had a season unlike any other he’s had in recent memory last year, winning one title in Stockholm and making a final in Basel on his way to finishing the year at No. 11. It would be surprising to see him put together a second healthy season in a row but just because it would be surprising doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Denis Shapovalov cracks the top 20
The Canadian took the ATP World Tour by storm in 2017, winning the Most Improved Player and ATP Star of Tomorrow awards in November. He’s at No. 51 right now, so the top 20 is just at arm’s length. Let’s give you an extra prediction: in 2018, Shapovalov will win a Masters 1000 event.
…And wins the 2018 Rogers Cup
Why not, right? Let’s double down on the wunderkid.
Novak Djokovic is back, baby!
It feels like forever since we’ve seen the Serb on the tennis courts: this man who was at front and center of mostly everything in men’s tennis for the previous six seasons is now ranked No. 12 and hasn’t played a competitive since withdrawing in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. WTF.
Victoria Azarenka is too!
The two-time Grand Slam champion and former-World No. 1 has been granted a wild card entry to the event she’s already captured twice. Hopefully she’s back to the tennis courts for good before long, although tennis pales in comparison to what she’s had to deal with.
Eugenie Bouchard falls out of the top 100
Is it a bit harsh? Sure. She’s currently ranked No. 83 and is coming off a rather miserable 2017 season where she won 13 of 34 matches, so maybe it’s not that harsh though? She’ll hang around, in 2018 and beyond. But at least for one week, she’ll fall out of the top 100.
Maria Sharapova gets back inside the top 30
Maria Sharapova has been punished and done her time, deal with it.
We’re still #TeamKvitova
It’s now been over a year since Petra Kvitova was injured by a stranger inside her own home. We’re still pulling for her every step of the way.
Nick Kyrgios figures it out for at least two weeks in the summer
Maybe, just maybe, to coincide with the 2018 Wimbledon at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club?? *wink wink*
Eight different players win the eight different Grand Slam titles
This is our favourite recurring prediction. It’s unlikely to happen, sure, but how satisfying would it be if we were right?!
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG