There’s a saying sometimes used during the Olympic Games when one athlete is expected to win the gold medal even before their event begins. Commentators have been known to say that everyone else in the field is just “playing for silver”. On the tennis tour, there is no silver medal at the end of each event. One player gets the trophy and that’s it.
The expectation, even before this year’s clay court season started, was that Rafael Nadal would win a record eleventh French Open title and raise the La Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy. Now that the Paris Grand Slam is here, the expectation is still the same.
Normally at the end of each year, I write up a best and worst list of all things tennis. For a lot of reasons, mostly lack of time, I’ve decided to just write a more concise year-end review with my thoughts on the players, matches, and off-court events that stood out the most to me in 2017.
2016 in the tennis world was a year full of change and surprise. Here’s a quick look back at those players and highlights that stood out the most in this most memorable of years.
Top of the Charts
2016 was indeed a year of change including at the top of the tennis rankings. With breakthough, and career changing seasons, Angelique Kerber and Andy Murray closed out the year both as year-end No.1s.
Roland Garros is just days away. With a lot riding for many players heading into the second major of the year, here are some of the big questions still lingering after the European clay court swing. Continue reading
“You Didn’t See That Coming. Did You?”
That’s what a friend said to me a day after the French Open men’s final that ended with Stan Wawrinka holding up the coveted trophy with a surprise but well-earned victory. “Stanimal”, as he’s known, may have seen the title in his future. But like my friend, few in the tennis world would have predicted Wawrinka winning against the man many felt was destined to finally do so in Novak Djokovic. Now that reality is slowly sinking in, including for Wawrinka, that yes he really did win another major, the next question for the “Stan the Man” is – can he do it again? Continue reading
Once again the French Open draw provided tennis watchers with a clear favorite on the men’s side and a plethora of potential winners for the women. Yet, for the first time in a decade, Rafael Nadal is not the man most everyone is picking to hold the trophy again.
“Obviously today I’m not as good as I (was).” – Rafael Nadal.
“You cannot take away the past 10 years…He is still the favorite to me,” Roger Federer on Rafael Nadal.
It’s odd to think of Roland Garros as unfamiliar territory for Rafael Nadal. After all, the Spanish star has won the title nine times in his career and enters this year as defending champion. Yet the next few weeks could provide the most certainty, and uncertainty, of his career. Continue reading