Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams are the players of the year?
Blah blah blah — you’re boring me.
If you’re experiencing annual awards burn out, with every tennis site you’ve never heard of churning out awards, let’s ditch 2014 and look at who’s likely to do what (or who) in 2015:
Most Likely to Fall Out of the Top 10 — Male: DAVID FERRER
How much longer can the Spaniard, who turns 33 early in 2015, carry on? The No. 10-ranked Ferrer won one small title (Buenos Aires) in four finals in 2014, and his grinding style is starting to falter against his greatest opponent, Father Time.
Runner-up: MARIN CILIC
Do you believe, or was that just a crazy-ass two weeks when he won the US Open? That was an epic fail at the year-end championships after he pulled out of events to prepare for it, then not just lost in the round robin portion but got routed. Looks like he will also start 2015 late with a shoulder injury.
Most Likely to Fall Out of the Top 10 — Female: DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA
The Slovak had an extended stumble at the end of 2014 that included a loss at the US Open to 15-year-old American Catherine “CiCi” Bellis. Ouch. It’s all about confidence, and does she have any?
Runner-up: EUGENIE BOUCHARD
Solid run in 2014 when she was the nothing-to-lose player, but toward the end of the year when the “You’re the Next Top Player” pressure mounted, the results stopped coming. After a split with her coach since the juniors, can she maintain?
2015 New Year-end Top 10 Lock — Men: GRIGOR DIMITROV
He should have qualied for the ATP year-end championships this year but choked. Money is on him stepping up in 2015. Baby Fed.
Runner-up: JUAN MARTN DEL POTRO
Not really “new” new, but he had the injury-plagued season in 2015, look for a big comeback this year if he is truly un-injured and the wrist gets right.
2015 New Year-end Top 10 Lock — Women: VENUS WILLIAMS
Venus has thus far beaten the odds, the only player with Sjogren’s Syndrome to maintain a tennis career in the Top 20 WTA Rankings. She is likely looking to end her career at the 2016 Rio Olympics, which means she needs to keep a top ranking, which means she will make it happen through sheer will.
Runner-up: MADISON KEYS
The chronically-underachieving American has never been able to crest the hill, be it her lack of belief as a late bloomer in tennis, or just being not able to figure it out. New coach Lindsay Davenport will help her make the leap.
2015 Best Super-Coach Pairing: STEFAN EDBERG/ROGER FEDERER
He didn’t win a Slam in 2014, but who thought the ageing Federer would have a solid season, much less challenge Novak Djokovic for the year-end No. 1 ranking? The level-headed Swede has urged the Swiss to be much more aggressive, in addition to other game tweaks.
Runner-up: BORIS BECKER/NOVAK DJOKOVIC
Becker has…ummm…we don’t know…got Djokovic to eat less gluten? Not sure but the Serb finished No. 1 in 2014.
2015 Worst projected Super-Coach Pairing: JUSTIN GIMELSTOB/JOHN ISNER
So many players, just a huge number of players, were jostling for Gimel’s “super coach” services in 2015, and the big man landed him! Wow. Not. This is Gimel’s 13th job after commentating for Tennis Channel, other channels, doing radio shows where he extol’s his brother’s ability to bang WTA players, commercials, other sponsorships, posing as a representative on the ATP Board, etc. This is such a wack pick that for it to be a success, Isner will have to move from hovering at the bottom of the Top 10 to finishing in the Top 5 in 2015. If so we will write a full-length article extolling Gimel’s virtues as a super coach.
Runner-up: AGGIE RADWANSKA/MARTINA NAVRATILOVA
What will the Nav-rat teach the under-sized Pole to do, serve and volley? Radwanska is a counter-puncher, Navratilova was probably the greatest serve-and-volleying aggressive player in WTA history. Waiting to see what this brings.
Most Likely Injured for the Majority of 2015: RAFAEL NADAL
Can the knee juice help him through 2015? How about the back? The neck? The elbow? The balding? It’s all adding up.
Runner-up: SERENA WILLIAMS
You have to ask? Age + Weight = 99 problems and being uninjured ain’t one.
Coaching Relationship Most likely Split Up in 2015: SERENA WILIAMS AND PATRICK MOURATOGLOU
The coach/lover and student were rocky at Wimbledon where Serena was rock bottom, then Mouratoglou was rumored to be back with his wife, and Serena was steaming on the sidelines…will it survive — if not a personal relationship, then a coaching relationship?
Runner-up: JUSTIN GIMELSTOB/JOHN ISNER
Personal Relationship Most Likely to Break Up: GRIGOR DIMIROV/MARIA SHARAPOVA
News Alert: Maria is high maintenance, a “Global Brand.” To be a man in her life you’ve got to bend until you almost break, and then bend some more. Good luck with that. Unless Grigor is a doormat, that’s not gonna last.
Runer-up: RYAN SWEETING/KALEY CUOCO
More power to them, but when one is funding the other’s sinking pro tennis career, that relationship better have a great base.
Most Likely to Win First Slam — Male: MILOS RAONIC
Milos is a freak of nature. The giant Canadian covers the court like a smaller player, yet serves and volleys like a giant, with touch. And that hair, that sleeve. Awesome. Time to step up.
Runner-up: TOMAS BERDYCH
Posing naked in SI is great, dumping Safarova for a top-level model is great, now time to dump your choking ways in big tourneys for titles is great. Grab your Lendl legacy and win a Slam. Better yet, try again to hire Lendl and win a Slam.
Most Likely to Win First Slam — Female: SIMONA HALEP
Showed herself to be a big match player in 2014, losing to Maria Sharapova in the Roland Garros final, reaching the semis at Wimbledon, and decimating world No. 1 Serena Williams in round robin play at the ATP Finals. Rose to the No. 2 ranking during the year and could be the player to challenge Serena’s reign in 2015.
Runner-up: CAROLINE WOZNIACKI
The Dane rededicated herself to tennis and her fitness after getting dumped by golfer Rory McIlroy, catching on the fire in the latter half of 2014. Won only one small title at Istanbul, but by year’s end lost in the US Open final to world No. 1 Serena Williams, and reached the semis at the ATP Finals, stopped by Serena again. Should take a lot of confidence into the new year.
Most Likely Not to Get Married: RAFAEL NADAL
Rafa and fellow Mallorcan Maria Francisca “Xisca” Perello have dated eight years without pulling the trigger. So why do it in 2015?
Runner-up: ANDY MURRAY
Murray joke-tweeted this year that he and Kim Sears were engaged — did anybody buy that she said yes to the sullen video game addict? Sears and the temperamental Scot broke up in 2009 and got back together in 2010. A marriage is reportedly planned for October 2015. Good luck with that.
Most Likely to Date Radek Stepanek: LUCIE SAFAROVA
The Czech lothario split with Petra Kvitova last April, and has since had three Slams and other co-ed tour events to chat up the young lovelies. Stepanek was engaged to Martina Hingis, and married and divorced Nicole Vaidisova before hooking up with Kvitova. Now scheduled to play the Hopman Cup together for the Czech Republic, the encounter should give Stepanek enough opportunity to snag yet another much-younger WTA player in Safarova.
Runner-up: KLARA KOUKALOVA
Last year the Czech cutie came back on the market after ending her marriage to Czech soccer player Jan Zakopal.
Most Likely to Say Something Stupid: ERNESTS GULBIS
“I never practice that much,” the petulant millionaire has said. “I never practice that much at all. What can I do? I cannot run. I’m a tall guy. I cannot move my legs, so that’s why I’m trying to hit it hard; so that I don’t have to move. After getting tossed in jail during the Stockholm tourney for soliciting prostitutes: “It was great. It was great fun; a very funny time. But I’m never going to go to Sweden again. If you go out and meet some girls, and immediately you’re put in jail, that’s not normal.” Look for them to just keep coming.
Runner-up: SERENA WILLIAMS
“I’m an unbelievable designer,” Serena says. In all seriousness. And: “I’m Serena Williams on the court, but away I have so many different names. I call myself Butterfly.” Those are the tame ones.
Biggest Tennis Change in 2015: US OPEN BY ESPN
The mothership will assume the broadcasting rights in the U.S. for the US Open. How will ESPN change things up?
Runner-up: YEAR-END EXOS
Over the years the players have convinced the ATP and WTA to cut their seasons shorter so they can get more rest in the off-season. Suckers! Now with the proliferation of one-off exhibitions and short leagues such as the IPTL, the off-season is the time for the top players to fill up their bank accounts with cash.
Biggest Deal Most likely to Go Under: WTA 2017 MEDIA RIGHTS
The WTA and its tournaments are expecting to receive more than $525 million from the media company Perform over the next 10 years for broadcast rights. This kicks in 2017, and a lot can go wrong before then, or during. Remember the ATP’s $1.2 billion deal with ISL Worldwide which fell through, crippling the men’s tour for a while? Could be too good to be true.
Runner-up: LTA FUNDING CUTS
Britain can’t produce any top players, so now they’re going to cut funding to their top kids? That sounds like it will produce champions. Good luck with that.
Most Likely Next Super Coach: ANDY RODDICK
Roddick wants to stay involved in tennis, and once his FOX Sports contract ends, you could likely see the former No. 1 stepping into a part-time super coach role with a rising young American player such as Stefan Kozlov or Michael Mmoh.
Runner-up: JOHN MCENROE
Just about every one of his contemporaries have stepped into the super-coach role, it’s just a matter of…who will take a chance with the fiery former U.S. Davis Cup head?
Happy New Year everyone!
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