After witnessing a lot of exciting action, the 2021 tennis season has finally come to an end. While fans watched Daniil Medvedev become the first player since 2005 to enter the top two of the ATP rankings apart from the Big Four, they also saw Novak Djokovic equalizing the Grand Slam tally of both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
With the new year and the new season only around a month away, here are five predictions for the 2022 season:
#5 No new WTA Grand Slam winners
Unlike the last couple of years on the WTA Tour, where each of the four Grand Slams during a particular year witnessed a new or different winner, the trend is likely to break in the upcoming season. Since there are very few female tennis players in the top 20 WTA rankings who don't have a Major against their name till now, the possibility of someone new winning a Grand Slam looks bleak in 2022.
With star players like Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty, Garbine Muguruza, and Simona Halep still dominating the sport, emerging athletes like Coco Gauff and Leylah Fernandez might find it extremely difficult to open their Grand Slam accounts next year.
If one looks at the stats of Gauff after the clay-court season and Fernandez after the US Open 2021 season, it becomes apparent that both of them lack consistency. Similarly, while both Maria Sakkari and Ons Jabeur have performed well in the recent past, the pattern reveals that they still have to find ways to handle the pressure of big games like quarterfinals and semifinals, where they fail to leave a mark.
#4 Alexander Zverev to lift the 2022 Australian Open trophy
World No.1 and defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic is likely to miss the Grand Slam in 2022 because of new guidelines issued by the Victorian government. As a result, it will give others a chance to add a Grand Slam title to their name and out of the current players, Alexander Zverev looks the favorite candidate to do so.
Even with Djokovic's presence, Zverev has quite a high chance of succeeding in Melbourne in the upcoming year, especially after his recent run at the ATP Finals. The German has triumphed over Djokovic twice this year and denied him the Golden Calendar Slam after defeating him at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
#3 Roger Federer and Serena Williams to hang up their tennis rackets
Fans have already received the disappointing news that Roger Federer won't be able to feature at the Australian Open 2022 as he is still recovering from his knee injury. There are even clouds looming over his participation at the Wimbledon Championships 2022. Many fans are speculating that since the Swiss Maestro will turn 41 in August 2022, he will most probably bid goodbye to the sport at the time of Wimbledon 2022.
Like Federer, Serena Williams also stepped into her forties recently. She is currently recovering from a hamstring injury and is expected to hang up her racket in 2022. Having not won a Grand Slam for about five years now, her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, has already hinted that he will discuss Serena's future with her soon.
#2 Novak Djokovic to go past Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the Grand Slam tally
Even if Novak Djokovic misses the Australian Open 2022, the odds suggest that the Serbian legend will go past Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal's Grand Slam tally (currently 20) and will end the upcoming year as the player with the highest number of Grand Slam titles.
With his current form, the World No. 1 can even defeat Nadal once again at the French Open and stop him from winning more Majors this year. If such a thing happens, the Serbian tennis player can even accomplish 25 or even more Majors by the end of his professional career. Even Nadal, one of his greatest rivals, highlighted that the Serbian is in the best position to end his career with the highest number of Majors.
#1 Daniil Medvedev to become the new World No.1
There is currently a difference of about 3,000 ATP points between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev. However, the Russian tennis player can dethrone Djokovic from the No.1 spot if he succeeds at the Australian Open and then plays some incredible tennis on both clay and grass.
Since Djokovic has 2,000 points to defend at both the French Open and Wimbledon Championships and Medvedev can earn more than 1,000 points at each of these Grand Slams, the Russian can reduce the difference easily by excelling in London and Paris. However, he also has 2,000 points and 1,000 points to defend at the US Open and National Bank Open respectively.
If Zverev succeeds in Melbourne and Medvedev fails to even enter the finals, then he will drop points since he was the runner-up of the Grand Slam last year. It would make it extremely tough for the Russian player since he doesn't have a great record on either clay or grass so far. Interestingly, he advanced to the second round of Roland Garros for the first time in his career only last year.
There is certainly a possibility of Medvedev acquiring the top position in the ATP rankings and if this takes place, Djokovic will be overthrown from the No.1 spot after almost two years. On several occasions, he has even said that becoming the World No.1 player is his ultimate goal.
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