With just the Davis Cup to go, we are coming to the end of the 2018 tennis season which has once again been full of drama and and stories.
ATP – The Return of Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic looked like he had a great chance of surpassing the slam totals of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal a few years back, following some outstanding years in the early 2010s as he established himself as a true slam contender on all surfaces. A loss of form and injuries had seen that take a hit over the past 2 years but he is most certainly back if the last 4 months are anything to go by. While he didn’t manage to equal Federer’s record 6 titles at the World Tour Finals, that was a minor blip for him. He picked up two more slams at Wimbledon and the US Open in the midst of 35-3 record from the beginning of Wimbledon onwards. In addition to the stellar returning he always possessed, he has been almost unbreakable on serve – something to make him even more dangerous come 2019. The World No.1 has to be favoured to win multiple slams next year and may even find himself as the favourite for the French Open, a tournament he will feel disappointed to have only won one of.
WTA – Out With The Old, In With The New
The next crop of talent looks to be on the way in the WTA Tour, with Naomi Osaka punctuating a list of youngsters finally breaking through at the top level. Osaka was fearless in winning the US Open, with her power hitting having too much for even Serena Williams in the final. While that match was overshadowed by drama.
There is still sign of life in Serena but Maria Sharapova has found it tough since her return while Agnieszka Radwanska’s early retirement means that many of the mainstays of the top 10 over the early 2010s may be on the way out. Daria Kasatkina is another who ended the year in the top 10 while Sloane Stephens is finally living up to her potential since returning from injury. The American ended the year in 6th, backed by another grand slam final, the French Open on this occasion. 24 year old Elina Svitolina won another big title in the Year End Championships in Singapore. Of the under 21s, Aryna Sabalenka has showed a lot of potential and was the only player to get close to Naomi Osaka during the dominant run of the Japanese at the US Open.
ATP – Rise of the Next Gen
While Alexander Zverev’s achievements stand out by far, the next group of male players are showing a whole lot of potential. Grigor Dimitrov was the winner of the ATP World Tour Finals last year but has failed to kick on while Nick Kyrgios showcases some great tennis in amongst the controversy and struggles he is now known for. Meanwhile, the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Borna Coric and Karen Khachanov have been making waves on their way to a year end top 20 finish.
Tsitispas was one of the few players to beat Djokovic late in the season, doing so on the way to the Canadian Masters final. Coric was a winner in Halle, beating Roger Federer while Khachanov went one better in winning the Paris Masters with a shock win over Novak Djokovic. It was his first Masters 1000 title and ensured the Russian a top 10 spot at the end of the year.
Outside of that core, the likes of Alex de Minaur and Frances Tiafoe have been making waves while Denis Shapovalov backed up his 2017 with a top 30 finish to end the year.
WTA – Hard Work Pays Off For Top Stars
Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep have been amongst the top players in the game for a while now but had been unable to take that final step in a grand slam despite a whole host of big titles and weeks at No.1 to their names. It would all change for them in 2018 with the pair picking up the first two slams between them. Wozniacki toughed out a three setter over the Romanian in Australia, finally winning a slam and silencing some of the doubters. For Halep, it seemed like it would be the same old situation of blowing it at the last moment.
She would finally get that maiden slam title in Paris, the event she had always excelled at. It would be a slog though, needing to come from a set down to beat a confident Sloane Stephens. She confirmed her spot at No.1 with the title and has been holding it ever since with a fairly sizable lead over World No.2 Angelique Kerber.
ATP – How Much Longer for Roger Federer?
For years now, predicting the demise of the top stars has happened and it is nothing new for Roger Federer. He started the year well by winning the Australian Open, taking full advantage of the injuries/lack of form for his main rivals. As recent as June, he was still the World No.1 but the surprise losses have been mounting over the second half of the season.
He blew a 2 set lead against Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon quarter finals and only won his home Basel tournament in the events following. His losses to Novak Djokovic are nothing to worry about he will be concerned by another poor slam loss in New York, this time to John Millman. Alarm bells rang in London as he put in a very poor performance to lose to Kei Nishikori, only to qualify for the semi finals at the weekend. He ends the season at No.3 but Novak Djokovic and a returning Rafael Nadal will definitely be fancying their chances of denying him another Australian Open title.