It is difficult to take much that is meaningful out of one week in any sport. With a season that spans almost the entire calendar year, tennis is no exception. However, here are three season long trends I am comfortable predicting after just a single week of play.
The “Big Four” is now the “Big Two”
After years of sharing the spotlight with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the pecking order on the ATP Tour is officially Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and everybody else. In addition to winning three of four majors, the pair dominated the back half of 2016 deciding the year end number one in the last match of the season. To start off this year, they reached the final in Doha, Qatar. Neither man play their best, but each found ways to win. We could go a long ways into the season before we get a final that matches the season opener between the freakishly talented Serb and newly knighted Brit. It had its fair share of drama and quality with Djokovic coming out on top. You can check out brief highlights below thanks to the Dafo sport YouTube channel.
While Stan Wawrinka can always get hot at the right time and Federer and Nadal will always have a punchers chance on grass and clay respectively, Djokovic and Murray are now the alpha males.
Karolina Pliskova Means Business
Most fans first become familiar with Pliskova last summer. She upset Angelique Kerber to win Cincinnati and reached the finals at U.S. Open, beating both Venus and Serena Williams in the process. Nothing seems to rattle her. She backed up her break out year with a title in Brisbane to get things started this week. What separates her from the vast majority of her peers is the ability to hold her serve easily. That alone could make her a fixture in the top five and the second week of majors. She led the tour in aces last year. Even though she has yet to win a major, Australia in just one week may be as good a time as any.
The Women’s Tour Remains Unpredictable
Stories like that of Garbine Muguruza were the norm on the WTA Tour in 2016. The big hitting Spaniard rose from relative obscurity to win the French Open, only to go under .500 for the rest of the year. In the first week of 2017, the WTA held three events. Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska were the number one seeds at their respective events. None won more than two matches before being sent packing.
Whether this is good or bad is debatable. What is not debatable is that if this continues, there is lots of room for Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka to make swift and successful comebacks in the spring. In the meantime, here is to all the players staying healthy ahead of the year’s first major.