Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon looks ahead at next year.
Tennis has one king in 2020 and his name is Daniil Medvedev.
The Russian captured the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals title over the weekend, beating Dominic Thiem in the final by the score of 4-6, 7-6(2) and 6-4. It’s a fitting end to this wild season, which ended with the four best players in the world—with apologies to one Roger Federer—competing for the right to hoist the trophy that says that they were the best of the best for the season that’s just finished.
Here’s the part where we should say something to extent that in the end, it was Medvedev’s turn. That it’s a massive win for him and one that keeps him on track for the career arc he’s probably envisioned.
Now that we’ve finally somehow managed to get through this season and enter the tiniest of tiny offseason possible, we can start looking ahead. In the times of COVID-19, this may feel foolish since things change so quickly, but let the record show that tennis, for good or worse, ultimately stuck to its return plan and schedule once it had launched and approved it.
If we’re looking ahead, the biggest whale of all is the 2021 Australian Open, currently set for Jan. 18-31, 2021. Why not take the time to look at the presumed first Grand Slam event of next season and identify what we hope happens, what we think will happen and what should happen in both men’s and women’s tennis? If you’re into tennis picks, here are some great options on predicting next year’s winners Down Under.
Without further ado, here are our predictions.
What we hope happens: Novak Djokovic grabs Australian Open title No. 9.
Somehow, in a year where he won one major and reached the final of another one, Novak Djokovic remains a whopping three majors behind. Not only that, but there are now two different players ahead of him at the top. The debate for GOAT rages on and if he wants to somehow catch up to both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer one day, Djokovic just about has to treat the next Australian Open as a must win.
What we think will happen: Daniil Medvedev breaks through.
Yep, we’re anticipating very big things for the wily Russian at the beginning of next year. It won’t be easy and it may not even happen quite so soon, but the 24-year-old will be a Grand Slam singles champion before long. Hell, he may even be the one to finally topple the big three.
What should happen: the ATP World Tour introduces a domestic violence policy.
Look, Djokovic agrees here even if he kinda hedged his bet. We’re not saying that the ATP should look to be judge and jury on matters of domestic violence but we’re going to need more than a poorly worded and vague statement when one of your biggest secondary stars is credibly accused of domestic violence.
What we hope happens: Bianca Andreescu comes back healthy and shows she hasn’t missed a step.
Before being a columnist, we’re a Canadian tennis fan who merely wishes to witness great things for Canadian tennis. For much of our lives, this was a fool’s errand but the country has recently started to compete on the biggest stages of the tennis world, which obviously thrills us.
But we really hope that the brightest star of the country, Bianca Andreescu, can prove in Melbourne that her absence from women’s tennis was a mere blip in what will be a Hall of Fame career. Fingers crossed.
What we think will happen: the reign of Naomi Osaka continues.
The 23-year-old Naomi Osaka has captured a Grand Slam title every year since 2018 and there’s no real reason to believe that she won’t manage to do the feat next year again. Why not expect it in Melbourne at the site of one of her biggest triumphs? It would likely come there or at the US Open: Osaka’s best results at the two majors she has not won remain rather pedestrian third-round exits.
What should happen: Serena Williams equals Margaret Court’s Grand Slam titles mark in Margaret Court Arena.
Margaret Court is undeniably one of the greatest players in Australian tennis history, and tennis as a whole as a matter of fact, but she’s also undeniably a bigot—or at least, that’s the picture that her beliefs, which she’s shared loudly and proudly, have painted.
Court has the big end of the stick in her standing atop the Grand Slams title hill of women’s tennis, but Serena Williams trails her by a single title. May she catch her this January on the court bearing the Australian’s name, then leave her in the dust at some point later that same year.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG