Tennis had an exciting year in 2021. One of the most significant upset victories in US Open history, and one in which Novak Djokovic came agonizingly close to completing the ‘Golden Slam.’ Of course, there will be plenty of activity in the coming months, but many players are already in the midst of their wind-down period, preparing for the upcoming Slams and new season. Because of the fast-paced nature of sports and sporting storylines, asking questions about the coming year, especially before you bet, can be crucial. However, what we think is vital often becomes less so, and topics we haven’t heard of previously may rise to the fore.
In 2022, the tennis world will be turned upside down. The tour’s fans may expect significant upheavals, with youthful talents poised to upend the status quo. The ATP Finals this year have had a substantial impact on the 2022 season. Alexander Zverev defeated Novak Djokovic, denying him the opportunity to win another ATP Finals.
The championship caps up a memorable year for Zverev, who also won gold at the Tokyo Olympics and completed 2021 with more Tour victories than anyone else — 59, one more than Medvedev. Yet, after losing a dramatic final against Dominic Thiem in last year’s US Open, the only item lacking from Zverev’s collection is a grand slam trophy.
The world number three was quick to win his second title at the event, winning the first in London last year. Zverev has improved his form in previous years, rising from seventh place in 2019 to third place this year. Zverev cruised to victory in Turin with consistent groundstrokes and good depth. The German player has established himself as a more difficult opponent for all players to beat next year. Here are a few others on the ATP Tour that will be hard to beat and looking for a place at the ATP Tour Championship finals.
With victories over Andrey Rublev, Casper Ruud, and Hubert Hurkacz this year, Sinner has demolished several top 10 players. He won four titles in 2021: Melbourne, Washington, Sofia, and Antwerp. Following Matteo Berrettini’s withdrawal from the ATP Finals, his rapid rise to number ten in the world culminated in a spectacular high participating as a reserve in the ATP Finals. Sinner is now a dangerous opponent for anyone, having just helped Italy in their Davis Cup win over John Isner’s United States. Next year, look for the Italian preventing elite players from winning Masters 500 and 1000 events while also claiming a couple of his own.
Many tennis enthusiasts are enthralled by Alcaraz and believe he will take the tennis world by storm in 2022. He only joined the ATP in 2020 and has already risen to number 38 in the rankings. Alcaraz is a hard striker who plays aggressively and is not hesitant to go to the net. Although compared to Nadal, his play has been compared to Roger Federer. The player has stated that he models his game after Federer’s. If he wants to match Roger Federer’s Grand Slam record, 2022 could be the year to start.
While he may not have the same level of expertise as Alcaraz or Sinner, Brit Jack Draper is expected to establish a name for himself in open events in 2022. With seven ITF titles under his belt, it’s evident that he knows how to get beyond the finish line and what it takes to win. He can compete at the highest level as a player. He stands over 6 feet tall, hits powerful flat backhands, is good at the net, and has an excellent forehand in his arsenal. If he can maintain his current level of development, the sky appears to be the limit.
As the above demonstrates, there appears to be some up-and-coming young talent poised to shine in the Opens in 2022. Whether it’s the large tournaments, like the Australian Open in January, or the minor ones, like the Miami Open in March, it’ll be fascinating to see how the players we’ve discussed fare.
With all of this in mind, the big three will find it difficult to win matches as younger players develop. Djokovic’s presence in Australia adds to the uncertainties surrounding tennis’ future. The Australian Open currently needs two doses of vaccination for players. Novak’s refusal to reveal his private medical history raises the question of whether he will become the first male player to win twenty-one Grand Slams.
Ivan Ljubicic, Federer’s coach, has made hopeful noises about the great man not retiring in 2022, but the timeline remains hazy.