In the ATP Finals in 2018, we seen a definite star of the future in Zverev. It wasn’t a huge shock. He had been playing some brilliant tennis all year. He deserved to win it.
However, the biggest story of the year was really the resurgence of Novak Djokovic at the end of the year, winning Wimbledon and the US Open. When he first arrived back after elbow surgery, there were doubters. Could Djokovic, now in his 30’s, recover and get back to his best? Indeed, he proved all the doubters wrong and finished the year as world number one. Again.
For Rafa, Novak and Roger to play such tennis shows just how great they are. Not for their age, but their ability. Roger, at 36, won the Australian Open and regained the world number 1 slot for a while. Rafa won yet another French Open title and a few more on top.
And there you have it. The greatest players of our generation took home almost all of the major titles, and finished in the top 3 spots in the rankings. Indeed, 7 of the top 10 are now over 30. Amazing. Zverev and Tsitsipas may get to the top, but until they can beat these great players on the big occasions, they might have to wait.
On the women’s side, the match that springs to mind immediately is the now infamous US Open Final between the upcoming Naomi Osaka and the returning, record chasing, Serena Williams. Williams was given a code violation for off court training, at which she raged and called the umpire a liar. Then after the match came allegations of sexism in the game. It all rumbled on for a while and is bound to have some influence on the game in 2019. Osaka’s massive victory was hugely overshadowed by the incident. Roger Federer, among others, has said Williams went too far. And Osaka has been named the most unfairly treated sportsperson of the year! Strong stuff.
Serena was odds-on to win Wimbledon too, but was stopped at the last by a truly magnificent performance from Angelique Kerber.
Serena didn’t get her 24th title in 2018, but if she has a good run, it will be hard to stop her in 2019.
Caroline Wozniacki beat Simona Halep in the Australian Open in 2018 to claim her first ever Grand Slam victory.
Halep eventually got there a few months later when she took the French Open title in Roland Garros. Had Halep lost, it would have been her 4th consecutive loss in a Grand Slam Final but she held her nerve after going one set down and roared back to beat Sloane Stephens in a great final. A very popular winner.
Overall, there is a huge amount to look forward to in 2019. There are players chomping at the bit to break the dominance of the current top 3. Andy Murray will be making his comeback in Brisbane and I really hope he can get back to somewhere near his best. The game of tennis has been poorer by his absence.
We have a record chasing Serena Williams and an ever motivated chasing pack. We are blessed going into the start of the year by the lack of injuries and almost all the big names are on show in different tournaments. But there will be a massive clash in less that 3 weeks when they all arrive in Melbourne for the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open, for which Nadal should be fit. We will know closer to the event.
Happy New Year to all!