With the new ATP season beginning next week, David Packman gets a little crystal-ballsy, playing “Fortune Teller” with some help from the Rolling Stones to make some bold predictions for 2015.
Oh, Baby (We Got a Good Thing Going)
Both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are intent on giving their boys an opportunity to see their fathers at the peak of their powers – more accurately, winning Grand Slam titles.
Nole is yet to lose a match since baby Stefan was born last October and will no doubt salute at least once in 2015 – most likely in Australia in a few weeks time.
Federer, on the other hand, won Wimbledon in 2012 with his twin girls in the stands, and will be looking to repeat that Grand Slam performance for twin boys Leo and Lenny. Wimbledon again looks the place most likely, and given his resurgent form of late, we think the 33-year-old Swiss master will take home his eighth title and thus break the deadlock with Bjorn Borg for the most Wimbledon titles in the open era.
Stop Breaking Down
After a wretched end to 2014 when a significant wrist injury was followed by a bout of appendicitis, Rafael Nadal finished a disappointing – by his own lofty standards – third in the world.
Rafa is almost back – maybe just not quite at 100 percent yet – and he has already made it clear that No.1 is no longer an objective with his priority firmly on staying healthy. As a result, it appears he will have an abridged schedule in 2015.
However, if he’s thereabouts in the last weekend of the Grand Slams this year – and feeling fresher due to a shorter program – the top spot might just take care of itself. That’s a long shot in our estimation, but if he plays in Paris unencumbered, you can lock in a tenth Roland Garros.
Juan Martin del Potro will also be back after a second year away from the tour with injury. He returned a different player the first time around, steadier but lacking some of the firepower he had in his early years. It was enough to propel him back into the top ten – before injury struck once again. In our opinion, the former world No.4 won’t have such a strong rebound in 2015.
Dancin’ with Mr. D
Grigor Dimitrov is the man most likely to make the big move in 2015. The 23-year-old Bulgarian broke into the top ten for the first time last year, reaching a high of No.8. Often dubbed the next Federer due to his textbook stroke making, he has mad skills but is sometimes lacking in mental strength. That said; we think 2015 will see him inside the top five. By the way, Pete Sampras agrees he’s the one to watch this year, so we’re in good company with that call.
Start Me Up
With the rise of Nick Kyrgios and Borna Coric, we saw two teenagers finish in the top 100 for the first time since 2011. Despite the fact they no longer have the element of surprise on their side, we believe these two can continue to shine.
Coric, the 18-year-old from Croatia, has already shown he can mix it with the best after a string of impressive results last year. 2015 will see him entrenched inside the top 50 with another exciting season and some more top ten scalps.
Aussie sensation Kyrgios broke through with a quarterfinal run at Wimbledon last year where his pure ball striking came to the fore, as well as his ability to handle the pressure. In fact, he seems to thrive on it. He has the strut and swagger of a big time entertainer and – if he can stay fit for a change – we think he will take home a big title this year.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Jack Sock reached a career-high No.42 last year and – much to the delight of American tennis fans that are witnessing somewhat of a void at the present time – he is poised to continue his run in 2015. Sock possesses one of the best forehands in the game and can take it right up to anyone on his day. Recent news of his withdrawal from the Australian Open won’t help him but if he can get himself fit for the American swing, we think he will enter his home Grand Slam a seeded player.
Not Fade Away
David Ferrer prides himself on his competitiveness but in 2014 we saw that beginning to wane. He’s clearly one of the fittest guys in the game, but he needs to be in order to survive against those with a more powerful arsenal at their disposal. His style of play is all about wearing his opponent down but in time that has to take a toll on his body. In 2015 however, we predict the 32-year-old will dig deep and hold onto his spot in the top ten. After all, hanging around is what he does best.
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Andy Murray is still looking a little unsettled. After recovering from a back injury, and rejigging his coaching team yet again, it’s now up to him as to whether he can once again challenge the top three or just be the guy who finally brought the Wimbledon trophy back home after 77 years. Oh, and won Olympic Gold on home soil. And pocketed a US Open.
That aside, his more recent results don’t point to his partnership with current coach Amelie Mauresmo being all that successful and many of the younger brigade might now have the ability to overcome his passive-aggressive play. With an impending wedding to girlfriend Kim Sears offering the potential to further distract the temperamental Scot this year, we feel a slide to the outer edge of the top ten is on the cards.
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Canadian Milos Raonic has made a huge impact on the game in the last few years but we feel he may stall in 2015. The 24-year-old reached the Wimbledon semifinals and made the ATP World Tour Finals last year for the first time, but he still has a fairly one-dimensional game. Sure, he knows how to win matches by using that big serve and forehand to maximum effect, but he will need to find to find some new tricks to continue his ascent. We can’t see that happening immediately and – despite a clear desire – this will be a year of treading water for big Milos.
Croatian Marin Cilic and Serbian Viktor Troicki are two motivated men after each served suspensions from the sport. Both successfully appealed their original sentences to receive reduced bans and are now back on tour with somewhat of a point to prove.
26-year-old Cilic tested positive for a banned supplement in 2013 and sat out of competition for four months, but he stormed back to win the US Open last September and end the year in the top ten. However, he stumbled somewhat in London at the World Tour Finals and, despite his stated goal of breaking into the top five this year, we think a slip outside the top ten is more likely.
Meanwhile, Troicki, now 28, was prolific in the latter half of last year after serving a one-year ban in 2013 for refusing to produce a blood sample. Since returning, he has won two ATP Challenger titles and reached a semifinal in Vienna, enough to almost find his way into the top 100. With a former high of No.12, he hopes to sneak inside the top ten in the next two years. We think that’s a bit fanciful, but 2015 will see the talented shot maker back inside the top 30.
It’s All Over Now
Perennial favorite Tommy Haas is now almost 37 years of age, and despite a remarkable push in recent years which saw him almost re-enter the top ten, we feel the former world No.2 will find that this year is his last. He’s coming off yet another surgery – this time his right shoulder – which saw him miss the latter part of last season, but he has vowed to play on in 2015. We’d love to witness that flawless backhand continuing to do some damage for years to come, but alas, we can’t see it happening.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Sang Tan
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