We discuss our predictions for 2017 in this edition of Changeover Chat, a quick back-and-forth exchange between the writing staff at The Changeover.
Anusha: Ok, get your 2017 prognosticating hats on. We’ll start with the WTA. Serena — what do you take on the over/under on her winning one Slam?
Amy:I think she’ll probably win at least one, even though her return didn’t look so hot the other day.
Lindsay: She just lost to Madison Brengle … so …while I know that Serena in small tourneys doesn’t usually matter … it’s Madison Brengle.
Anusha: I know, hard to take the over but it was windy in Auckland, too.
Lindsay: I’d say 1; she’s got 22; get 23 to herself, then that might be it.
Anusha: I may take the under. I just don’t know. I’m not feeling the same fire from her. Before, when you would ask Serena v. the field, Serena was the easy bet. Now, I’m taking the field. I sure would like her to get past Margaret Court, though, but that’s a big ask at this stage.
Lindsay: Yeah, the field isn’t as flukey. These weren’t 2014 losses.
Anusha:So, Kerber — does she add to her Slam haul in 2017?
Amy: I’d go with one Slam for her.
Lindsay: I say no, but she’s in the mix late often.
Amy: It’s always hard to replicate your best year but I think she’ll be in the mix.
Anusha: I’m going to take none here. I just think 2016 was lightning in a bottle. She’ll play well, but too many players will be aiming for her.
This year, we’ll definitely see Sharapova back, and possibly also Vika. What do their comebacks look like? And how long do they stay on tour?
Lindsay: I think both will have decent comebacks, maybe top 10 … but I don’t know if we’re going to see either winning Slams this year.
Amy: I’m pretty optimistic for both, particularly Maria because she’s done long layoff comebacks so many times. And she’s going to be out for blood.
Anusha: I doubt either will win a Slam this year. I just don’t know about Maria. It’s been so long since we’ve seen her play. I don’t doubt that she will have the desire …
Lindsay: Do we finally see Maria beat Serena this year? I say yes — no Slam but she gets the Serena win.
Anusha: I think Serena keeps that streak alive.
Amy: Nothing brings out the best in Serena like playing Sharapova.
Anusha:Halep and Radwanska had very consistent 2016 seasons, and are both in the top 5 — does it last? Do either of them get to a Slam final?
Amy: I don’t see Halep doing anything of note. Well, both of them, actually.
Lindsay: Hmm … I’m torn on this, but I’m going to say yes for this one for both; both finals, neither wins a Slam. But I’m more optimistic about Pliskova and Muguruza.
Anusha: I actually don’t think either gets there — I seem to have a lot of faith in the field. And, speaking of Pliskova and Muguruza — who’s your Slam champ between the two?
Lindsay: Pliskova, but I could see both.
Amy: I’ve struck gold in my Muguruza predictions for years now, so I’m going to stick with her.
Anusha: I’m taking Pliskova. She’s streaky, but less so than Muguruza.
Lindsay: The year of the server — a Slam for Serena, Muguruza, Pliskova and … KEYS maybe, haha. She’s back with Davenport!
Anusha: Keys is in the top 10, and was in the hunt for a medal in Rio and is back with Davenport. Does she put it all together this year?
Lindsay: I think it’ll take a while since she’s injured, but I think by grass season and summer hardcourts she will be hitting her stride — though I don’t love her split with Hogstedt considering her good year, but I love Davenport.
Anusha: What are your top 5 rankings? I’ll go with: 1. Williams 2. Pliskova 3. Muguruza 4. Kerber 5. Halep.
Amy: 1. Muguruza, 2. Kerber, 3. Keys 4 Williams, uh, 5. Vika
Lindsay: 1. Pliskova (OMG, I know) 2. Serena 3. Kerber 4. Muguruza 5. Halep
Anusha: Ok, moving to the ATP. Sir Andy Murray — is he number one at the end of 2017? And how many Slams does he win?
Amy: Two for Andy and No. 1.
Lindsay: I hope Murray finally gets his Australian Open.
Amy: Me too.
Anusha: I’m going to say Novak takes No. 1 back — Andy had to run the tables at the end of 2016 to make it happen. It’s a big ask for him to do it twice. And, again, the field, including Old Man Fed, will make it harder for him this time around. But I see him getting a Slam.
Amy: On the other hand, Novak has a million things to defend for the first half of 2017.
Anusha: Speaking of Novak, does his 2017 look like a return to form or beginning of the decline? I think he gets a Slam for sure, maybe in Australia. But I don’t see another 2015 from him.
Amy: It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him have a stretch of play as mediocre as the one after RG, and I’m’ not convinced that’s over. That said, I’d give him at least one Slam just because it’s Novak and he’s amazing.
Anusha: I wonder what the disappearance of Boris means for him.
Lindsay: I agree that Novak gets one Slam — likely the French again.
Anusha: Federer — does he make a Slam final?
Anusha: I can’t bet against him, so I’ll say yes. But I’m increasingly confident in the field.
Anusha: Just for completeness … Rafa, whither from here?
Amy: I’m thinking we’ll see more of the same.
Anusha: I’ll say he gets a clay Masters 1000. I’m not sure which one, but maybe Monte Carlo? I don’t think he grinds out a win in Paris this year. And outside of clay, I can’t see much happening.
Lindsay: Like last year, I have no idea.
Amy: How about Delpo, what do you guys think he’ll do this year?
Lindsay: Well, he’s already pulled out of a tournament … so that’s a great start.
Amy: LOL for partying purposes.
Anusha: I don’t know about his durability.
Amy: He’s terrible in the Aussie swing anyway.
Anusha: It’s a smart call — but do we see him doing better on clay?
Amy: I’m going to predict he wins at least one Slam. Not entirely biased, he did beat a lot of top players in 2016 towards the end of the season. He’s been much smarter about his schedule since the comeback, and that seems to have paid dividends. I think he finally gets that if he feels bad at a tournament, he should not fucking play it.
Lindsay: I think the US Open is his only real shot once again
Anusha: I’d like to see it, but I think the field will make it hard.
Lindsay: Anusha you are LOVING the field.
Anusha: I feel like that old SNL skit where Al Gore kept saying “lockbox.” Except I’m saying field. It’s strange, after so many years of saying, there’s no one who can take the top players on for both tours, now it feels more open. Almost like a vibe. Of Pouille, Raonic, Nishikori and Thiem — who has the biggest year and does it include a Slam win?
Lindsay: I’m going to say that Nishikori gets a Slam this year (unless he faces Cilic along the way at every major)
Anusha: Kei looked so unhappy at losing to Cilic again in Basel last year.
Lindsay: But I think all of them can end the year in the top 10 — all of them SHOULD end the year in the top 10.
Anusha: They really have no excuse not to be. I’m feeling good about Pouille, but I’d have to tip my hat to Raonic. Sorry, Amy. But he’s just marching forward. It’s hard to imagine him winning a Slam, but there’s something inevitable feeling about him. Like, he is constantly optimizing and recalculating to improve his chances to win a Slam. At some point, it’s going to happen.
Amy: Hypothetically yes, technically no.
Anusha: That was a software error.
Anusha: Dimitrov — is this the year he rights the ship?
Amy: No. It’ll capsize.
Anusha: I still think he has the tennis skill, but not enough tactical savvy to break out of it.
Anusha: In 2017, Big Time Stan IV — yea or nay?
Amy: Gonna go with no.
Anusha: I think he wins over Novak or Murray at least once. His best chance is still probably at the French, but I’m not predicting he’ll win a Slam.
Lindsay: Yeah, no Stan Slam this year. I think we’ll get a first-time winner.
Anusha: Okay, before we get to rankings, the real prediction we’re waiting for — between Bernie and Kyrgios — do we see a mugshot or scandal? Or have they moved on for good?
Lindsay: No mugshots but more drama, although now there’s another Aussie teen who might have a mugshot.
Amy: Probably a mugshot for Bernie, if I’m being honest.
Anusha: Mugshot for Bernie, it’s almost a children’s novel.
Amy: I feel like Pat Rafter just needs to come back on tour at this point to redeem Australia. Although mainly so I could look at him.
Anusha: Ha! If anything, I do hope that the match fixing story gets some attention to the fact that most tennis pros do not earn enough for a reasonable living, despite the enormous amounts of income earned by the major tournaments etc. But it likely won’t. Alright, time for rankings!
Amy: 1. Murray 2. Djokovic 3. R—–c 4. Delpo 5. Fed.
Anusha: 1. Novak 2. Murray 3. Raonic 4. Fed 5. Stan.
Lindsay: 1. Novak 2. Murray 3. Kei 4. Thiem 5. Raonic.
Anusha: Since we had so many curveballs in 2016, any predictions for 2017?
Amy: Soderling announces his comeback.
Anusha: Oh, that’s a good one. Rafa’s decline may include the wearing out of the hex he put on Robin.
Lindsay:I’m going to say that Jack Sock briefly gets in the top 10.
Anusha: I’ll say Monfils plays consistently and turns out to be a good babysitter for Vika.