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 2021 season.
Welcome back to this space for yet another tennis season, this one likely to follow in the footsteps of the one that just ended.
A year ago, we were all naively believing that the 2020 season would unfold like every other before it had—i.e. without a hitch or seemingly so. But then COVID-19 invited itself to the party and crashed everything, killing millions worldwide and rendering the very idea of a normal tennis season completely obsolete and utterly inconsequential.
Yet somehow tennis came back into our lives in a revamped manner late last summer and today we’re supposed to carry on with our lives as tennis fans as if nothing happened or is still happening.
It’s silly but let’s try to do this.
In the same exact way we’ve done in early January at the beginning of the past handful of seasons, we’re dipping our toes in the water and making 21 predictions about how this coming 2021 season might unfold over the next 12 months.
COVID-19 halts all tennis matches at least once.
It seems highly unlikely, considering that the pandemic has already delayed some events before the season even started, that this 2021 season will roll on exactly as planned. Should be an easy correct prediction.
Four different players divide the 8 Grand Slam titles between them.
In tennis, few players possess most of the riches and this season should be no exception.
Unless it’s eight different players who each win one Grand Slam each in 2020.
We make this prediction every year, and we’re never right about it, but maybe this year will be different?
Roger Federer falls out of the Top 10.
Disciples and fans of the Swiss won’t like this one.
This would be quite the monumental and seismic shift in men’s tennis.
Ashleigh Barty reminds fans why she had such a successful season in 2019.
If Ashleigh Barty hopes to solidify her ranking, replicating her 2019 season would be a great place to start.
Rafael Nadal wins Grand Slam No. 21.
And it will come at the French Open obviously.
Novak Djokovic equals Roger Federer’s mark of 20 majors.
Oh this one is bold as hell. That’s right: we foresee the number one player on the ATP notching three Grand Slams in 2021.
And ends the season as the year-end No. 1.
If the previous prediction holds true, this one is a given.
Iga Swiatek finishes the season ranked inside the Top 5 of the women’s rankings.
As she proved last season, Iga Swiatek is a special talent in women’s tennis and someone who can make the most of her opportunities. If everything goes right, she should be at or near the top of the sport for the foreseeable future.
Nick Kyrgios does not retire, despite what our editor-in-chief wrote on Twitter.
The Australian does not give a damn about tennis, but he does not retire.
Biggest story of 2021?
— Tennis Connected (@TennisConnected) January 1, 2021
As for the other predictions in the above tweet, they become true.
Here’s a triple-whammy of a prediction.
Serena Williams retires but not before making history with major No. 24 and No. 25.
Again, we want nothing more than to see Margaret Court’s name be relegated to history.
Alexander Zverev gets suspended and drops out of the Top 10.
The fact that Alexander Zverev still plays and competes on the biggest and boldest stages of the ATP never stops being strange with every passing day.
Dominic Thiem makes all four Grand Slam finals.
Oh the poor Austrian does not win any of the four major finals he makes, but he does make four major finals. For most, that’s one hell of a season.
And so does Simona Halep.
Not only are we on the record saying that Simona Halep will finish the season as the No. 1 player in the world, but we think she’ll have an all-time season this year.
Halep grabs two Grand Slam titles.
Yep, let’s maybe start to appreciate the Romanian’s career and legacy while we still can?
Andy Murray actually retires this time.
At this point, we’re not even sure exactly when it was that Andy Murray announced he would retire. (Editor’s note: It was two years ago.)
Daniil Medvedev wins Olympic gold.
Remember the Olympics? This worldwide global event that should have been held last summer have now been moved to this coming July. It’s Russian Daniil Medvedev who will emerge victorious in men’s singles.
Bianca Andreescu comes back with a vengeance.
On the women’s side, we anticipate Canadian Bianca Andreescu grabbing gold in Tokyo.
The decade of Djokovic rolls on.
After this season, we’ll have finished a full 11 seasons where the Serb is the driving force in men’s tennis.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG