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 2019 tennis season.
Welcome back, have you missed us?
We were with you throughout December despite the sport’s hiatus and offseason, projecting the 2019 year-end WTA rankings, discussing the possible return to prominence of Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer, and the perks of being Roger Federer—and, on Christmas Eve, revisiting the 18 predictions we had made way back in January for how this 2018 season would unfold.
And here we are today, with a brand new season about to start—with all due apologies to the Qatar Open—and with a brand new set of outlandish and wonky predictions for the 2019 season, the bulk of which we will undoubtedly be wrong about.
Novak Djokovic catches Rafael Nadal on the Grand Slam list.
Oh hell to the yes, we are starting strongly and going there. With Nadal currently at 17 Grand Slams, Djokovic at 14, and another Roland Garros tournament coming up, well something has got to give.
And finishes the season at No. 1 once again.
With another three (or more) major titles per the above prediction, Djokovic should have plenty enough of points and ammunition to stay at No. 1.
Venus Williams retires.
At 38 years old and now ranked No. 39 in the world, the elder Williams sister has definitely earned the rest and the send-off.
So does Serena Williams.
Do you want to know why?? Read below.
Because she grabs career Grand Slam title No. 25.
History and people tend to love nice and significant numbers. Grabbing a 25th major would be a hell of a parting gift.
And so does Maria Sharapova.
We envision this 2019 season as being either the swan song or Maria Sharapova’s last stand. We’re going with the former.
Andy Murray is done.
We’ll know about this one really, really soon considering that Andy Murray played all of 12 matches last season and will have every occasion, every time he steps on the court, to add to his point total and rise on the rankings. But will he get back to the heights of days past? We’re skeptical.
Denis Shapovalov makes a Grand Slam semifinal.
You wanna say that this 2019 season is shaping up like one that could make or break the next few years of Shapovalov’s career, that if he doesn’t finally take the next step then when in hell will he do it finally. But the truth is the Canadian is still just 19 years old. Give him time.
Nick Kyrgios barely gives a damn, plays left handed for at least one game.
A year ago, we had predicted that Nick Kyrgios would win the 2018 Wimbledon title LOL. Let’s go to the other extreme here and see if we can’t get luckier that way.
Alexander Zverev drops out of the Top 10.
Oh this is a spicy, spicy take about the youngster who’s definitely and pretty clearly the fourth best player in the world right now. But hey, we’re swinging for the fences.
Simona Halep makes the four Grand Slam finals, or better.
Quite the ho-hum season if this happens.
The summer of Naomi Osaka continues, but she can’t overtake Halep at No. 1.
If the previous prediction holds true, we have no choice but to say that the Romanian will remain queen for 2019 at least. But make no mistake: the face of women’s tennis is Naomi Osaka’s.
Eugenie Bouchard falls out of the top 150.
With every passing week, Eugenie Bouchard’s stunning and quick rise close to the top of the WTA rankings falls farther and farther from us—and becomes less and less explicable.
Aryna Sabalenka crashes the WTA party.
No doubt about it.
Kei Nishikori wins the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals.
If it weren’t for Novak Djokovic, we would have been speaking about Kei Nishikori’s run in the latter half of last season for a long time. Somehow, this feels like an accurate microcosm of his career: you know, he’d be the best if not for player X or Y.
The men’s top 10 rankings get younger in a hurry.
Currently, Novak Djokovic (31), Rafael Nadal (32), Roger Federer (37), Juan Martin del Potro (30), Kevin Anderson (32), Marin Cilic (30) and John Isner (33) are all in the Top 10 and older than 30 years old. Thankfully, Karen Khachanov (22), Borna Coric (22), Kyle Edmund (23), Stefanos Tsitsipas (20) and Daniil Medvedev (22) are all knocking on the door.
The future is bright.
The 2019 Davis Cup will be just fine.
After all this hoopla over the change, we’ll reach the end of November 2019 and realize that yep this new Davis Cup format really ain’t the problem, nor the solution. The new Davis Cup is the same as the old one, for better or worse.
The eight Grand Slam titles come from only four different players.
If we’re going to be right about our very first prediction on this list, it means that very few players will capture the biggest titles of the year.
Unless, they instead come from eight different players.
Folks, this is what we call hedging on the above prediction.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG