2015 was an incredible year for tennis in both the men’s and women’s games. Headlined by Djokovic and Serena, there were a ton of great storylines, and some really amazing matches. What does 2016 have in store for us? Impossible to predict, but here are some things that I want to see in tennis this year.
1. Someone challenge Serena for Slam titles and the #1 ranking
Serena is a superstar, and an outstanding champion, as evidenced by her many wins and her career year in 2015. However, tennis is more interesting when there is intense competition at the top. Will Serena finish 2016 as the top ranked player in the world and with multiple Slam titles? I would certainly put my money on it, but I would love to see the likes of Sharapova, Halep and company finally pose a legitimate threat to Serena’s dominance, at least occasionally.
2. American men’s tennis take a step forward
I have said before that American men’s tennis gets more criticism than it deserves. With that said, I would love to see some positive strides made in 2016 by the entire American contingent. Isner, Querrey, Sock, Young and others certainly have the talent to make a bigger impact than they have thus far. Isner has established himself as the top threat, so it would be great to see him around in the second week of the Slams more regularly, and for the others to make some appearances as well. More importantly, however, American men’s tennis has the strongest, and deepest class of juniors that we have had in years. Headlines by Francis Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz, let’s look for the teenage contingent to make some positive steps this year. Not that an ascent into the top 20 is realistic, but nothing would revitalize American tennis fans than to see some youngsters establish themselves and instill some hope that we may again have a Sampras/Courier/Agassi era.
3. More doubles
This one is just a pipe dream in our singles-centric society. Professional doubles is incredibly fun to watch, and the matches are much shorter and digestible than the singles marathon matches (especially at the Slams) that we are accustomed to. I would love to see more doubles on television, and to see more doubles matches featured on the larger courts at tournaments across the world. If doubles grows, so will the money, and perhaps so will interest from the top players. Dare to dream.
4. Federer win Wimbledon
The GOAT has owned the All England Club over his record-shattering career. It is where he has won the most slams, and also where has has come the closest to adding to his record total in the past few years. If Roger has one more Slam title in him, it is most likely to come at Wimbledon, and also would be the most fitting final chapter of his story. Let’s hope it happens this summer!
5. Way more tweeners
What’s the most exciting shot in tennis? A tweener of course! Is it the most prudent play to hit a tweener when lobbed? Not usually, but the pros are so good that it is generally not a very high risk shot. It is certainly the most entertaining, though! I vote for way more tweeners in 2016. Heck, I would even vote for the ATP Tour to make tweeners mandatory following every lob!
Bonus: A resurgent Nadal
Admittedly, I have never been a Nadal fan. But, as a tennis fan, I have a lot of respect for Rafa and think that the game is in a better place when he is at the top of his game. I will be rooting for him this year!