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 16 predictions he made at the beginning of the 2016 season.
The challenge with writing a weekly tennis column, as we’ve mentioned quite a few times already in this space, is finding enough topics to have at least 52 solid columns.
By and large, this mostly means that you just keep an eye on the tennis calendar: whenever there’s a big enough tournament, you write a preview for it, as well as write a recap. Boom, that’s two columns and two weeks, easy enough. You keep an eye on the news as well, because sometimes the tennis Gods bless you with a wonderful idea for a column, and then you write about news item a for a column, then again when there’s a column for another column, etc.
And other times, well, you get creative. For the past few years of doing this on Tennis Connected, we’ve started every season with a series of wonky predictions of what’s to come over the next few months. And then we’ve gone back to it at the end of the season. That’s two columns :).
Let’s revisit what script we thought the 2016 season would follow, and where we were right—and wrong, because we were mostly wrong.
Novak Djokovic will not repeat his 2015 season: YAY
Going 27-1 at the Grand Slam tournaments, with an 82-6 overall record en route to 11 titles? Yeah, Novak Djokovic could only go down from there, which opened the door ever so slightly for Andy Murray. The Serb still only lost nine of 74 matches in 2016, and won seven titles. He’s fine.
Novak Djokovic will complete the career Slam: YAY
We had made this prediction every time until it became fulfilled because we are big fans of the Djoker, and that means we were right :).
Rafael Nadal loses yet again at Roland Garros: YAY
Here, we predicted something that used to be entirely out of the realm of the ordinary. Instead, Rafael Nadal lasted a mere two games at the French Open, and has looked merely okay this entire season.
Roger Federer wins a gold medal in Rio: NAY
Lest we forget, the man who has won everything still hasn’t captured a singles Olympic gold medal.
Four years ago in London, we saw Andy Murray triumph over Roger Federer. This past summer, Roger Federer is now ranked 16th (!!!) in the world and hasn’t played since Wimbledon, foregoing any chance at disappointing his fans yet again at the Olympics as he withdrew from the event. He’s 35 years old, and old. Life comes at you fast.
…But it will not be in singles: YAY
I guess it counts as me being right, saying that Federer wouldn’t win a singles gold medal but that he would win one in mixed doubles as above—but I’ve treated these two as separate, so I’ll pat myself on the back.
Milos Raonic steps up: YAY
With Federer and Nadal both quickly fading into oblivion, and Stanislas Wawrinka suffering from frustrating bouts of inconsistency, the door was wide open for someone, anyone, to step into the shade behind Murray and Djokovic. After a 52-17 record, with one title and three other finals, Canadian Milos Raonic has crashed the party at the top. The potential he’s showcased has been actualized. He’s here, and here to stay.
Borna Coric is the «next big thing» of today: NAY
Oh boy. At this point a year ago, Borna Coric was ranked No. 44 and he’s finished this 2016 season at… No. 48. If Coric ever becomes a phenomenon, the time will wait.
How about Andy Murray?: NAY
Maybe no one in hell really saw this push from Andy Murray coming, not after he had missed the latter half of the 2015 season with injuries. Regardless of whether we were the only ones wrong or not, we certainly were wrong.
Serena Williams wins the gold medal in Rio: NAY
Yeah, losing in the third round against Elina Svitolina isn’t the same as winning a gold medal. And anyway, with Monica Puig winning the Rio gold, we got a much better story and moment :).
Serena Williams beats Steffi Graf’s Grand Slam record: NAY
Serena Williams did win a 22nd Grand Slam title to equal Steffi Graf, but two losses in the Australian Open and French Open finals, and a US Open semifinal loss, doomed her chances.
…And retires: NAY
Welp. How much can one man be so wrong on a single player? 🙁
Eugenie Bouchard settles on being a perennial Top 30 player: NAY
At No. 46, Eugenie Bouchard is essentially like your average WTA player—and that’s what we meant when we said she’d settle on being a perennial Top 30 player: that she would be like most everyone else playing, good but not great with a few nice results here and there. But she’s ranked No. 46, and 46 isn’t 30, so we were wrong. (Even though we were right in essence.)
Belinda Bencic makes a Grand Slam final: NAY
Nope, that did not happen. Instead, Belinda Bencic reached the fourth round, the second round, and the third round at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. And she missed the French Open altogether.
Garbine Muguruza emerges: YAY
This one is essentially a push, as Garbine Muguruza has moved back from No. 3 to No. 7 to end this 2016 season, but we’ll give ourselves the benefit of the doubt the same way we give it to Grand Slam winners. The Spanish’s lone 2016 came at the French Open so really, what’s the problem? She has emerged.
Simona Halep overtakes Serena Williams at No. 1: NAY
Well someone certainly did overtake Serena Williams at No. 1 on the WTA rankings. But that someone wasn’t Simona Halep.
Novak Djokovic finishes the year at No. 1 yet again: NAY
Ugh, we were SO close of being right on this one. The struggle between the Serb and Murray, if you recall, lasted until the very last match of the season. But it’s Murray who emerged unscathed with the crown jewel, so we must concede defeat here.
How well did we do? Well, we got six right and 10 wrong, which is good for 37.5% right and not really good. That’s actually up from 4/15 last year, which itself was down from 6/14 the year before. Again, do not listen to us.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG