While there has been a lot of tennis played since the “end” of the 2019 “season” (does tennis really even pretend to have an offseason, other than those few days where everyone seems to go to the Maldives?), and the players are well into their prep for the early 2020 events, the advent of the new year fills me with hope for the season to come. For all of tennis’ internal squabbles, there’s still so much to be grateful for as a fan, and last season certainly had something for everyone — veteran staying power, check, emergence of new stars, check, heartwarming comebacks, check, heartbreaking losses, check. But, there’s always room to wish for more, and here are my top five hopes for the 2020 season.
1. Serena gets number 24 (and 25, 26, 27).
While the number of Majors has not always been the sole arbiter of GOAT status in tennis, these days, winning the race to the most Majors is one way to put yourself ahead of the pack. Regardless of where she ends up on the list, Serena Williams tops just about everyone’s list as the GOAT (the exception may be Margaret Court, but the less said about what Margaret Court thinks, the better). That said, it would be fitting if she could find a way to get herself to the top of the list of Slam winners by winning another one in 2020. She’s made 2 finals in the last 2 seasons, but has not been able to cross the finish line.
Given her level of dominance in four separate decades, Serena has more than made her case for GOAT status, but it would be satisfying to have the hardware to back it up — she certainly has the game to do it, even after all of these years, and you have to think that she won’t continue to play for that many years, so the sooner she gets there, the better.
2. A new ATP Slam winner.
There, I said it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed watching the Big Three go after each other. But it’s getting a little sad for the field when we are looking at the second generation of players whose dreams are being scuttled. There’s a lot to admire in the achievements of the Big Three and their individual and collective dominance over a period of 17 years and counting. But I’m ready for another member of the cast to make it happen in 2020. The safe bet is Dominic Thiem — he’s got a couple of French Open finals already, but I’d love to see Daniil Medvedev put together a run (even without the fun villainy of the 2019 US Open early rounds) to a title.
3. A Resolution to the Battle of the Cups
I’ll be candid — I’m a Laver Cup stan. I have often thought of turning this site into a Laver Cup tumblr feed (kidding…sort of). I think that the format and the player buy in, not to mention the ability of the organizers (i.e. Roger Federer) to cajole/convince/pay exorbitant appearance fees to Novak/Rafa have made the first three years of the Laver Cup far more compelling than anyone could have imagined. In a perfect world, that kind of enthusiasm would be welcomed and seen for what it is — a new way to generate interest in tennis by the larger sports-watching world.
Yet, this is tennis, and the success of the Laver Cup didn’t result in a warm welcome — rather, it rather immediately generated competition. Some of this was useful — i.e. the long-overdue process of reviving/revising the Davis Cup. But, some was not all that useful –the ATP Cup which is about to start in Australia, and which has led to the demise of the much beloved Hopman Cup, the only mixed gender team event on the calendar.
The thing is — even among hard core tennis fans, and if you’re reading this, you probably are one, that’s just too much of a good thing. At best, out of the Laver Cup, Davis Cup, and ATP Cup, really only 2 should survive. While I’m not particularly impressed by the new Davis Cup format, ultimately, it is a historically important part of tennis, and for that reason alone, it’s the ATP Cup that has to go. Sorry, ATP Cup, I know you haven’t really even started yet, but I’d rather have some fun watching the Hopman Cup in January, and I can’t be bothered caring about nation-based team event like a month after the Davis Cup. Maybe it will be different once the matches start, but right now, seeing the prep makes me ask the question, “didn’t we just do this, and Spain won?”
4. More Tsitsivlogs
I know, Stefanos Tsitsipas should really be focusing on his tennis. He needs to try to win Slams. See paragraph 2, supra. But the heart wants what it wants. And it wants emo videos from Stef.
5. More Consistent Posting Right Here
This one is on me, but I’m putting it out there — sometimes it’s hard to find something unique to say when there are already so many great voices out there. But this is a golden age of tennis, by any stretch of the imagination, and I consider myself fortunate to have this little corner of the tennis interwebs to say my piece. So, stay tuned.