You know what is so great about tennis? It is one of the few sports that is played year round. Although we are in the middle of winter here in New England, out in Australia they are getting ready for the first major tournament of the year. The tournament is set to start this upcoming Monday and I’ve never been so excited.
As I touched on back in November, my main man Andy Murray has finally received the number one spot in the world. After his countless successes in the Olympics as well as the other major Grand Slam tournaments, I believe that he rightfully deserves this spot. It is important to note however, that already in the Qatar Exxon Mobile tournament this year, Murray wasn’t able to defeat his rival Djokovic in the championship.
This is a little worrisome for Murray, because losing this early in the season to the previous number one player will not look good on the 2017 resume. He has a chance to redeem himself though in the Australian Open. I will be interested to see how he handles being at the top because his whole career has been about chasing the top.
Not to mention, Djokovic defeated Murray last year in the Australian Open as well. Murray was able to avenge him in the Barclays at the end of last year so this rivalry has continued to progress. In my opinion, this could be at the level of the Nadal versus Federer matches that created excitement in the tennis community for so long.
Speaking of Federer, his age is starting to get to him. At 35, he has continued to struggle with knee problems and back problems which is a shame. This is a guy who was in the top two rankings for eight straight years which is a record. He hasn’t won a major since Wimbledon 2013 however. His last successful years were 2014 and 2015 where he got his 1000th career win and was a runner up in Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Japanese superstar Kei Nishikori is my pick for the quiet killer. He is honestly the most improved player and continues to progress each year. His last year’s record was 58-21 and finished with one singles title but has consistently been in the top five. I will definitely be watching him closer than usual as well.
As far as the United States goes, we still don’t have that huge name like we did with Andy Roddick. John Isner is the closest, but all he has is a big serve. He is a really poor returner and doesn’t have the ability to stay in a long rally. Sam Querrey is another guy who is getting better but hasn’t broken out yet. He had that one huge win against Djokovic last year but he still hasn’t won any major tournament yet. With Murray and Djokovic there, I don’t see that happening any time soon.
On the women’s side, the U.S. still boasts one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Serena Williams. Even though last year wasn’t her year by only winning one major, she is still the best in the world. We can’t forget that two years ago she almost completed the calendar year grand slam. She is still waiting to pass Steffi Graf’s amazing record of 22 grand slam singles titles.
She must understand though, that her competition hasn’t been all that fierce as of late. The idea that her and Maria Sharapova ever had a rivalry was laughable. With Serena being the same age as Federer, ladies like Angelique Kerber and Garbing Mugurza will definitely compete with her. Especially Kerber who is ranked two in the world, and made it to every major except one last year.
This may very well be the most intriguing tennis year in quite some time. Between the questions surrounding Serena, Murray being number one, and Federer not retiring yet, I’m very excited for 2017. I anticipate the Djokovic Murray rivalry heating up, and Serena passing Graff. But, you never know, and that’s why tennis is so fun.