A lot can happen in three months on the ATP and WTA tours, and the first quarter of 2017 was certainly no exception. Legends were reborn, young stars were forged, and Fabio Fognini even won a few hard-court matches. Of course, there were also those for whom Q1 2017 is best forgotten – but not by us! Read on for a look at the winners and losers of January-March for the 2017 tennis season.
Winner: Roger and Rafa
As much as Federer deserves all the plaudits he’s been given over the past three months, let’s take a moment to appreciate Nadal’s equally ridiculous start to the year. Having slid down the pecking order prior to the injury that ended his 2016, Nadal has reasserted himself as a contender at every tournament he plays in. He came within a whisker of the Australian Open title, and will enter Roland Garros once-again a strong favourite. Even if he doesn’t quite live up to his old standards on clay, it’s been an incredible comeback for Rafa in any case, and while it may not have earned him the silverware of Federer, it’s been similarly reaffirming of his all-time greatness.
Loser: Andy and Nole
They may be the world’s top-two ranked players, but you’d be hard-pressed to label them as such three months into 2017. After Djokovic prevailed in a meeting in the Doha final, both have struggled to find form and fitness when needed, exiting prematurely in Melbourne and Indian Wells, and unable to play Miami for the first time ever in their careers. Perhaps it’s too early to proclaim the Murray-Djokovic era over, but based on what we’ve seen, it’s not too early to start asking that question.
Winner: Nick Kyrgios
If this article came out at the end of January, the only loser bigger than Kyrgios would’ve been Andy Roddick’s hairline, but boy did the Aussie turn it around. In the past month, he’s beaten Djokovic and future rival Sascha Zverev twice each, made the quarters in Indian Wells, and came within a whisker of downing Roger Federer in the Miami semis. Whatever his past transgressions, he seems to finally be relishing the fights that come on the big stage, and while his personality may continue to make him an acquired taste, no longer can his immense talent be denied.
Loser: Angelique Kerber
Proving in 2016 to be arguably the best non-Serena no. 1 since Justine Henin, Kerber’s 2017 has seen her resemble the Wozniacki’s and Jankovic’s of the world in her completely underserving hold of the top spot. I mean she even got dabbed on by Coco Vandeweghe. Not much of a clay-courter, perhaps the low expectations of the next three months will give her time to get her head screwed back on.
Winner: Johanna Konta
The freshly-minted Miami champion, Konta is well on-track to improving on an impressive 2016 with her first year-end finals appearance. A title in Sydney and an AO QF to go with her triumph in Key Biscayne, Konta has built a reputation as a rock-solid baseliner with one of the best serves on tour – don’t be surprised if she ends up doing for the British women what Andy Murray did for the men.
Loser: Miami Crowd
If leaving game 6 of the 2013 NBA finals early wasn’t bad enough, the Miami crowd’s performance in this year’s tournament has cemented their spot as one of the worst fan cultures anywhere. Look, we get it – you like Roger Federer (and really, who doesn’t?), but the treatment of his opponents throughout the week was simply unacceptable. It didn’t matter whether it was Nick Kyrgios (who they arguably cost the match) or Rafael Nadal (who got jeered asking for sawdust), none of them were given the respect they deserved, and it left a bitter aftertaste for what was an overall outstanding tournament.
Winner: Serena Williams
There’s always a lot of hemming and hawing when making lists like this – but when you break the open era record for singles titles, it doesn’t matter what else you do, you get a spot automatically. Her dominant run through the women’s draw proved she’s still as ravenous for the souls of her opponents as she ever was, and at 35, equally as capable of devouring them. Look out, Margaret Court – Serena is coming.
Loser: Mirka Federer
The last three months may have been a purple patch for her husband, but they’ve been anything but for Mrs. Federer. First she got caught wearing a $1000+ Gucci sweater so tacky you’d have a hard time hawking it on the Venice Beach boardwalk, and then she got caught on camera jeering Nick Kyrgios in the Miami semifinals. We know Roger’s a classy guy, but Mirka needs to step her game up.
Winner: Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
Forget tennis, Lucic-Baroni’s story is one of the best in sports, period. A Wimbledon semifinalist in 1999, her father was the archetypal “helicopter parent from hell”, and cost her most of the 2000’s as she struggled to get her life back on track. Nearly 18 years later, the now 34-year-old made it to a second semifinal in Melbourne and, after another semi in Acapulco and quarter in Miami, sits a career-high 23 in the rankings. As much as we lionize the Federers and Serenas of the sport, Lucic-Baroni’s is equally as worthy of our appreciation, and someone who throughout our own struggles in life, we can all take heart in.