The tennis season is over! It’s been an eventful year as always. Novak Djokovic ended 2013 as number two in the ATP world rankings; he ends 2014 as number one. Meanwhile, in the women’s game, Serena Williams ended last year as world number one and still remains 12 months later. So, on the face of it, little has changed. But that does not tell the whole story.
Juan Martin del Potro won the US Open in 2009 but every Grand Slam since has been won by either Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer or Andy Murray. That was until this year’s Australian Open when Stan Wawrinka overturned the odds and beat Nadal in the final. That was followed by the US Open when Marin Cilic won, beating Kei Nishikori in the final. So, is the era of the “big four” coming to an end and, if so, who may replace them?
It’s too early to say if the “big four” era is in its downward spiral, but it would be no surprise to see other names rising up the rankings next year. Grigor Dimitrov ends 2014 just outside the world’s top 10 but has been as high as number eight and, having reached the semi-finals at this year’s Wimbledon, will be looking to go one better in 2015.
He became the first player of 2014 to win three titles on different surfaces (grass, clay and hard court) and certainly has the all-court game to survive at the top of men’s tennis. Previously known for being Maria Sharapova’s boyfriend, he should make the sporting headlines in his own right over the next 12 months. He will no-doubt rank amongst the favourites in the betting for the first Grand Slam of 2015, the Australian Open.
David Goffin ends the year just outside the world’s top 20 and at the age of 23, will hope to make progress up the rankings in 2015. His breakthrough year was 2012 when, as a lucky loser, he reached the fourth round of the French Open. He won his first ATP titles last season, winning the Austrian Open and the Moselle Open either side of Flushing Meadows. A run to the third round at the US Open also provides some hope that he will have a successful 2015.
Milos Raonic has been a rising star for a few years but finally appears to be on the verge of fulfilling his potential. He had by far his best Grand Slam year in 2014, reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the last eight in Paris. Also aged 23, he has one of the fastest serves in the men’s game, always a crucial weapon and is another top player with an all-court game. Consistency has been his problem in the past but, if 2015 is to see another new Grand Slam champion, Raonic may well be a contender.
Simona Halep and Eugenie Bouchard
While we are still searching for new stars in the men’s game, they have already arrived in the women’s! Though Serena Williams may remain the player to beat, at 33, her place at the top is coming under greater threat through the emergence, largely of Simona Halep and Eugenie Bouchard.
Both reached their first Grand Slam final in 2014 and although they lost – Halep to Maria Sharapova in Paris and Bouchard to Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon – their emergence has been an exciting development over the past season. Halep is 23 but Canadian Bouchard is just 20 and could easily have a decade at the top of the women’s game.
Another player predicted to have a bright future is Garbine Muguruza, just 21, who has broken into the world’s top 20 in 2014. She caused one of the shocks of the year, beating Williams in the second round of the French Open, eventually reaching the quarter-finals, which subsequently proved to be her best Grand Slam performance so far. She also won her first WTA title this year, winning the Hobart International in January. Also an accomplished doubles player, she will look to be successful in both forms of the game in 2015.