The world of professional tennis has had a rough 2016. Some of the world’s top players failed to compete in the season-ending championships, Maria Sharapova was busted for consumption of a banned substance, and rumours of rampant match fixing left a sour lining on the year. After a year full of negativity, the tennis world is looking forward to a new and improved 2017. Here are some of the top headlines to watch for this coming season:
Serena Williams and a Grand Slam Record
Serena Williams is just one Grand Slam short of breaking Steffi Graf’s record for most career Grand Slams. After losing her world number one ranking in 2016 and pulling out of the World Championships in November, Serena should be feeling refreshed and hungry to tackle the challenge
Novak Djokovic & Coaching Situation
Novak Djokovic ended an extremely successful year with a shocking announcement that he and coach Boris Becker would be parting ways. The tennis world will be wondering how Djoker will maintain his level without a coach and we will be looking for an announcement regarding his new team.
Health of Rafa & Roger
Both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were plagued with injuries throughout 2016. They both missed the US Open last fall due to injury and did not compete in the World Championships. Tennis enthusiasts will be gauging their health and fitness levels during the year’s first slam (Australian Open) this and making predictions for the remainder of the season. In 2016, Nadal did not compete in the French Open or Wimbledon, but he did win the Doubles Gold at the Rio Olympics and the 28th Masters in Monte Carlo. Federer ended his run of 65 consecutive entries in a Grand Slam tournament when he also withdrew from the French Open. He then competed at Wimbledon, before he announced he was going to miss the Rio Olympics and the remainder of the season in July.
Nick Kyrgios’ Attitude
Kyrgios has been dubbed the tennis bad boy after several unfortunate altercations with chair officials, the tanking of his match against journeyman Mischa Zverev, and viral videos of his verbal abuse of fans. The young Australian was also fined by the ATP and asked to see a sports psychologist as part of the punishment. All eyes will be on the young Aussie and whether or not his time away from tennis has had any impact on his attitude.
Kerber as World #1
Fans and critics will be curious to see if Angelique Kerber can defend her Australian Open title and maintain her world number one ranking in 2017. With Serena back in the picture and other young players climbing the ladder all eyes will be on the young German. The world will be anxious to see how she handles the pressure and expectations of the number one ranking.
Azarenka’s Return to Tour
Tennis fans will also be looking for an announcement from former world number one, Victoria Azarenka. Azarenka announced last summer that she is expecting her first child but plans to return to tennis after the birth. Critics will be looking for her return and gauging whether or not she can return to the top of the WTA rankings.
These are just a few of the most exciting professional tennis headlines to watch for in 2017. Tennis enthusiasts are looking forward to an exciting and healthy year for all of the top players. Cheers to another exciting year!
Article & Images – Kevin Kennedy – http://www.usssportsmachine.com/
Federer & Nadal – Washington Post
Serena, Kyrgios & Djokovic – ESPN
Kerber & Azarenka – Daily Mail