At the start of a new tennis season, you sort of think of what is to come but this year, 2021, it is so difficult to peer into the crystal tennis ball. You kind of wish that Oda Mae Brown (you remember her from Ghost), with her crazy personality was around to come up with some wild prognostications.

 

If she were around, well then … “you in trouble girl!”

For about six months in 2020 the tennis tour stood still. Even after that the circuit was badly damaged. The tour in 2021 is drip feeding its calendar because who really knows what is going to happen from one quarter of the year to the next. But let’s take a shot at it. First, we will check out the tournaments and then wave the crystals over the players.

The first major of the season, the Australian Open has been through the grinder in working to make sure it happens. Twelve months ago in Melbourne was the last time a major was played under normal conditions. Twelve months ago, seems so long ago. 

Well, the Open will be on but the prediction is that it will be staged three weeks later. Yup you heard it here. Instead of finishing on 31 January it will start on 8 February and all the big names will be in Melbourne apart from Roger Federer.

Err that has already been announced? There you see, two predictions already correct. Stick with us here.

The French Open will make a unilateral decision to return to its regular dates which will be the last week of May/first week of June and everyone will be happy with that. However, the weather will probably be similar to October but at least the players have had a taste of the conditions.

There will be no April Fool’s Day announcement about Wimbledon, and it will be a case of WWW – Wimbledon Will Work. Masks will obviously be mandatory, but the difference is at the All England Club they will be white throughout. None of this stepping out of the box stuff like white on the outside but another colour on the inside. Remember Roger Federer’s red souls a couple of years ago … or was that red soles?

And then there will be the Olympics in Tokyo. Despite being in 2021 they will be referred to as the 2020 Olympics. Why anyone or any organisation would want to credit something from 2020 is beyond me. A singles gold medal in the men’s and in the women’s will be won by a player who has never won a tennis singles gold medal.

No one other than Andy Murray has won two singles gold medals in tennis and that goes way back to the first-time tennis was played at the Olympic Games in 1896 which was the first modern games. The crystal tennis ball spoke saying it is pretty definite about the bold pick.

And after that the US hardcourt swing will see Cincinnati go back not Cincinnati and at the US Open in there will be crowds back at the National Tennis Centre. Another strong prognostication, don’t you reckon?

To the players and there is the potential for so many fascinating scenarios to open up. Let’s go out on a limb and say world No.1 Novak Djokovic will break the record for weeks at No.1 currently held by Roger Federer. Okay so that one is not a stretch. He is already the second person to reach 300 weeks at No.1 and he will equal Federer’s 310 weeks on 1st March and then take over the mantle on 8th March.

But things will come undone because Djokovic will not get to equal Federer’s streak of 237 consecutive weeks.

Another Federer record might not quite fall in 2021. He and Rafa Nadal are level on 20 majors but the Spaniard’s best chance of breaking free might just be thwarted at Roland Garros. He could very well be without a major.

Dominic Thiem will be the second choice for Roland Garros. Rafa is always first choice but the Austrian will likely get the goods and will also jump to No.2. Russia will dominate the men’s rankings with Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov all in the top ten by year’s end.

On the women’s side Sofia Kenin will not retain the Australian Open and might not even be there on the last weekend. There will be strides by Aryna Sabalenka and Maria Sakkari and Ash Barty will do everything she can after no play for a year and will stay in the top three. Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka will be the women’s standouts in 2021. You go girls.

Serena Williams will continue to chase for the majors record – she remains one behind from equalling Margaret Court at 24, but will it be a case of her having more success with her Tik Tok videos?

Be prepared for high profile retirements and maybe even changes at the top of the game in administration. It’s going to be another tumultuous year.