Mag By Craig Gabriel
CRYSTAL BALL TIME
Another new year and another new start to the tennis year and while some are calling it the start of a new decade, in fact it is not.
The way the calendar works it is actually not till the end of this year, 2020, do we move into a new decade. No doubt that will stem some comment. For the majority it sounds more accepting and conventional to say 2020 is the start of a new decade, but it is not. However, I’m going to try some 20/20 and peer into a crystal ball.
What is in store for tennis… ?
Let’s start with the respective world No.1’s. Rafa Nadal claimed the year-end crown for the fifth time but he won’t be there this when 2020 closes out. He could even slip out of the top thee but will stay in the top five. There will be no 20th major for him in 2020. Yup … no French Open. Certainly, he will feature at the business end but will be thwarted by young guns.
Ash Barty will continue to remain among the top thee. The No.1 ranking with the women will bounce around but the Australian will hold it more often than anyone else. Ash will remain as popular as she has ever been and while the French Open title might not be won again this year, she will however claim another one of the majors, most likely the US Open. She will be there on the final weekend of the Australian Open.
Both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will in one of the big four. Novak should continue to dominate the Australian Open while … wait for this … Rog will claim No.21 and it will be at his favourite place in the world, Wimbledon.
2020 will be the year that the young ones will be stepping up to the mark In the second half of 2019, in particular, they showed they were ready to start picking up and running with the baton.
Look to the French Open with its brand-new retractable roof, to show the way. The men’s title will go to Dominic Thiem, third time lucky being in the final, or Daniil Medvedev who could have a slow start to the year but will then pick things up. Stefanos Tsitsipas will be among the final two players at a major. He may not repeat his 2019 Aussie Open efforts but through the year he will make up for that.
Two players to look out for are Alex de Minaur and Felix Auger Aliassime who will flirt with places in the top ten.
On the women’s side of tennis, Simona Halep will regain Roland Garros but not retain Wimbledon. She will battle it out with Barty for the year-end No.1 ranking while Karolina Pliskova and Elena Svitolina could suffer a set-back or two in their quests for the top ranking. Look out for Bianca Andreescu being a solid three in the world despite no majors falling to her.
Elusivity will be the word for Serena Williams. Her yearning for a 24th major to tie Margaret Court will once again not materialise and the frustration will begin to show. It will be a similar situation for Naomi Osaka who will struggle to feature at the business end of all the majors.
This Australian Open is Caroline Wozniacki’s final tournament and before the end of 2020 she will announce an addition to her family.
It is an Olympic year and singles gold medals will be claimed by Nole and Ash.
Tennis will have its political moments and one of the big tennis administrations will go through a change at the highest levels with a leader being changed and on top of that there will be further controversary with Davis Cup formats. Maybe even secret talks that see development between the ATP Cup and Davis Cup with the Fed Cup even being placed in the mix.