I am not going out on a limb here when I say that 2018 will be an exciting year of tennis both on the ATP and WTA Tours.
First let’s consider the impact on the ATP Tour of the return of a healthy Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka. At their best, these four can challenge the current top two players on the ATP Tour and potentially change the make-up of the top ten players. Yet, two questions are at the forefront of the minds of many: Will Rafael Nadal’s injured knee allow him to play at the level he achieved for much of 2017? Will Roger Federer’s back hold up against the stiffer competition that is anticipated with the return of the aforementioned players?
Federer and Nadal had amazing 2017 seasons; however, would they have accomplished what they did if the field was not so depleted? Are Djokovic, Murray and Nishikori fully recovered and ready to regain their places amongst the top ten? Wawrinka is still clinging to the top ten at number nine; however, that may be short-lived as he will lose semifinal points from the Brisbane International and the Australian Open if he is not ready to play. In any event, I expect by the end of the season, the members of top ten on the ATP Tour will be quite different.
I expect Alexander Zverev to continue improving his fitness and make some noise by going deep in at least two of the majors this season. Denis Shapovalov and Andrey Rublev will want to prove that 2017 was not a fluke. What about Borna Coric? How will Grigor Dimitrov handle the attention the second time around? What about Jack Sock, he’s a top ten player now and much more is expected of him-how will he perform under the microscope?
Like the ATP Tour, the WTA Tour is equally anticipating the return of form of several former stars: Serena Williams, Agnieszka Radwanska and Maria Sharapova. Jelena Ostapenko, Caroline Garcia, Coco Vandeweghe and Johanna Konta are currently amongst the top ten; however, they will have to cement their positions as consistent top ten players this year. Hopefully with the return of form of Williams, Radwanska and Sharapova, there will not be such a revolving door at the top. Add to this mixture the potential return of Marion Bartoli and we can expect the WTA to present us with some mouth-watering match-ups.
Needless to say I am excited at the prospect of the return of Serena Williams. Yet, we fans must be prepared that it may take a while for her to get back to her dominant form. We cannot forget about Victoria Azarenka; if she is finally able to play consistently, she can ruin the plans of quite a few players. Of course, there is always a player or two who makes a break-through and make their presence felt, who will it be in 2018? Will Naomi Osaka finally make her breakthrough? Will this be the year that Simona Halep wins her first major?
It’s safe to say that at the end of the 2018 season, like on the ATP Tour, the top ten players on the WTA Tour will look nothing like the top ten players at the start of the season.
And finally, in the face of consistent challenge, how will the newcomers to the top ten fare in 2018?
SOURCE OF IMAGES: serveandrally originals