Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon revisits the 15 predictions he made at the beginning of the 2015 season.
Welcome to the tennis offseason, which lasts oh about six weeks in the ATP World Tour and around two months in the WTA Tour.
Six weeks, eight weeks, in either case it’s short. But in the world of online tennis writers with a weekly column *WINK WINK* two months is a mighty long time: how do you write about “the week that was in the world of tennis” if the previous week had no tournaments?
Well, this given week you revisit the 15 predictions you made at the beginning of this 2015 season. Which predictions? These ones.
Just an FYI: these were meant to be wonky by design, so perhaps the results will reflect that.
Novak Djokovic has a season for the ages: YAY
If I’m being totally honest, making this prediction was a way to make myself look good. How so? Well, the Serb is my favourite player and I wanted great things for him; he had been the player of the 2014 season despite only one Grand Slam title to his name and still appeared dominant. But I wrote that, “It’s impossible for Novak Djokovic to ever repeat his 2011 season” and I was clearly wrong there. Whatever.
Novak Djokovic completes the career Slam: NAY
The 28-year-old was excellent and all-conquering in 2015, laying waste to more or less every poor soul who stepped on a tennis court with him, and every single time except for six defeats. Oddly enough, one of his six losses occurred against Ivo Karlovic, which is as random as it is irrelevant to this discussion. What certainly is relevant, though, is that Djokovic went 27-1 at the four Grand Slams and that, of course, his one defeat occurred in France after he eliminated the mighty Rafael Nadal. The French Open title continues to escape him.
Roger Federer calls it quits: NAY
That’s the problem with quirky predictions: they’re by nature far-fetched and relatively unlikely to occur. But to expect a then-33-year-old to fade and to fall back to the back before reassessing where he stood and maybe moving on? That seemed reasonable, no? Well no, said Roger Federer.
…Probably because he wins something else: NAY
Much to the dismay of Federer fans, the Swiss didn’t add to his haul of 17 career Grand Slam titles. It’s not for lack of trying however, nor of opportunities either: at Wimbledon and the US Open, King Roger made the finals, even managed to tie both matches at 1-1 after two sets before meeting his end. It’s appeared entirely obvious now that the days of Federer winning Grand Slam titles and three out of five sets are long gone; right now, Djokovic is just a more formidable foe, “Sneak attacks by Roger” or no SABR. Which, you know, is fine when you’re 34 years old.
Eugenie Bouchard wins a Grand Slam title: NAY
Oh boy. For Eugenie Bouchard, who had blazed through her initial full season on Tour in 2014 on her way to two Grand Slam semifinals and one Grand Slam final, the problems manifested themselves amid glory: the Canadian lost her Wimbledon final 6-3 and 6-0 in only 55 minutes. The hope, in making this prediction, was to double down on #GenieArmy and hope that the then-20-year-old could readjust her game and her expectations. It has yet to happen
…And the Rogers Cup: NAY
Eeech, that escalated quickly. For the second season in a row, Bouchard lost a three-setter first match in her home tournament. This time, it was against Belinda Bencic, which really isn’t so bad because the Swiss managed to win the 2015 Rogers Cup and was playing as well as anyone else at the time—certainly as well as Bouchard.
Serena Williams does not win a Grand Slam title: NAY
Certainly my dumbest prediction: not only did Serena Williams win one Grand Slam in 2015, she came this close of managing the calendar-year Grand Slam and snatching the four titles. In fact, she would have, if not for the biggest upset in modern women’s tennis history at the US Open. Because yep, that’s what it takes to beat her: you have to do something that’s literally never been done in your era. No pressure.
…But still finishes the year at No. 1: YAY
Wouhou, I guess—though really, this positive shouldn’t count because I was so wrong on the previous prediction.
Rafael Nadal has a 2013-lite season: NAY
Don’t look now, but Rafael Nadal has somehow made his way back to the Top 5 of the ATP. Really, there he is, lurking at No. 5. I wasn’t right in predicting that the Spaniard would lose a few gut-wrenching Grand Slam finals against Djokovic in 2015, but I was right in thinking that he would bounce back after a difficult 2014 season. He still can’t beat the Serb and may have lost his edge over Federer, but he won three times and made three other finals this season. That’s good.
Postmodern Andy Murray will be just fine: YAY
Andy Murray’s decision to leave adidas for Under Armour was postmodern in the sense that it was his acceptance that he wasn’t Federer or Nadal; maybe just like Djokovic signing with Uniqlo before, he could use that moment of clairvoyance propel him to new heights. Maybe that will happen, in 2016 or later on, but the Brit certainly rebounded from a tough 2014 season this past year: lest we forget, Murray was ranked as low as No. 12 on Sept. 15, 2014. He’s now back to No. 2.
…And adds to the hardware collection: NAY
That being said, Murray did not add to his Grand Slam titles—and while some predictions were imprecise by nature, this one isn’t. Either Murray won or he didn’t. He didn’t.
Nick Kyrgios makes a Grand Slam final: NAY
Oh boy. The only times the fiery Australian made headlines was for all the wrong reasons; it’s fine that he’s immature, or certainly tempestuous—but that’s not how you win a Grand Slam title, I guess. At least not now, in this era of the even-keeled and superhuman Djokovic. Maybe once the Serb retires?
Simona Halep wins Roland Garros: NAY
Simona Halep, No. 2-ranked player in the world, captured three titles in 2015 on her way to a 49-17 season and gained over $4.5 million in prize money. Unfortunately, for both her sake and the sake of my predictions, the French Open was not among her three titles. This has been par for the course: while the Romanian has excelled for the majority of the time since 2013, she hasn’t always done so on the biggest stages. That’s the next step in her evolution.
Stanislas Wawrinka becomes the foremost “Swiss guy” on the ATP World Tour: NAY
Well let’s see. Stanislas Wawrinka won 55 matches, lost 18; he amassed four titles, including the all-prestigious Roland Garros. Federer, meanwhile, won 63 matches against 11 losses, while adding six titles to his name—though none as prestigious as Wawrinka’s French Open. The tiebreaker? Federer is ranked No. 3 while Wawrinka, at No. 4, remains the “Other Swiss guy.”
Novak Djokovic finishes the year at No. 1 again: YAY
It’s Djokovic’s world and we’re all just wondering if he may solidify his case as the best player ever.
So how well did I do? I finished 4/15, down from 6/14 from the year before. I am not good at this.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG