Five wishes for the 2013 tennis season:
1. Rafael Nadal back on the tennis court at full strength. It’s been a long five months since Nadal was ousted in the second round of Wimbledon by 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol. It’s not that the Olympics, the US Open, and the ATP World Tour Finals lacked drama or excitement without the World No. 4, but the ATP is always better when Nadal’s healthy and present at the big events. The optimist in me also hopes we’ll see Robin Soderling back on court in 2013.
2. A youngster to step up and challenge the top players. There have been flashes of promise from a few young players recently, including Milos Raonic, Ryan Harrison, Bernard Tomic, Grigor Dimitrov, and Jerzy Janowicz, but they have yet to prove to be a consistent threat to the Big Four. It would be nice to see any of those players (or the second tier of players like Tsonga, Berdych, and del Potro) break up the Big Four monopoly on Slams and larger ATP events.
3. Maria Sharapova to get past her mental block against Serena Williams. Right now, it’s fair to say Williams is a better player than Sharapova. But Sharapova seems to play her meekest tennis against the World No. 3. Williams is 9-0 against Sharapova since 2004, and Sharapova hasn’t even taken a set against Williams since 2008. Will 2013 be the year Sharapova finds it within herself to challenge the American?
4. No more discussion on equal pay at Slams, and no more ATP players bashing the WTA. Whether Janko Tipsarevic, Gilles Simon, or Sergiy Stakhovsky like it or not, equal pay for women at Slams is here to stay. Stakhovsky and Simon should focus on more productive issues in their roles on the ATP Council, such as increasing prize money for lower-ranked players who lose in early rounds of tournaments.
5. Tomic to grow up. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m sick of hearing about whatever the latest Tomic scandal is. Whether it’s having an outburst at a reporter at the US Open, getting in trouble with the law for “hooning,” or causing a disturbance by engaging in naked rooftop wrestling, it would just be nice to hear about Tomic’s on-court progress instead of that other stuff. He’s not a teenager anymore. It’s time to grow up.
What are your tennis wishes for 2013?