Changeover Chat: Reviewing Our 2016 Predictions

chat_logoIn what is now an annual tradition here at The Changeover, we will now look back at our 2016 predictions, and see just how ridiculous they really were. Andrew wasn’t with us this year, but we are still marveling at his prescience about Jo Konta.

The block quotes are the excerpts from last year’s chat, and our reactions are below each block.

Anusha: So, let’s start with the WTA.

Lindsay: What a year.

Anusha: We all doubled down hard on the Serena bandwagon last year — no one had her for fewer than two Slams and the Olympics.

Lindsay: Yeah, well, I don’t really feel bad about that prediction; she had earned it!

Anusha: She definitely had, and she was certainly in the mix this year — she plays a better match in Australia, and the year could have turned out differently.

Amy: True — if you’re going to double down on anyone, she’s usually a pretty safe bet!

Anusha: We had pretty modest hopes for Kerber last year:

Amy: I’d like for Kerber to win one of her matches of the year for once.
Andrew: Kerber won a bunch of tournaments this year! She wins things now!
Lindsay: I just want Kerber to stay ranked in the top 8 so she’s around for these great matches against big players late in tournaments.

Anusha: What do you think made the difference?

Amy: Kerber finally won some matches of the year! I think she was on the cusp before now, but sometimes you just don’t get the good luck, whether it’s just a match that goes the other way or bad injury timing or other players not dominating.

Lindsay: We finally saw that magical thing where everything comes together for a player.  It happens so rarely — often for a match or two; but suddenly her game and her mental strength and luck and timing all fleshed out at once.

Anusha: And for a veteran!

Amy: The pinnacle is beautiful to watch in her case. She’s such a unique shotmaker.

Lindsay: What’s still the most amazing to me is that it came together for a solid year.

Anusha: Really from beginning to end — this is one that I don’t mind being wrong about predicting!

Lindsay: The consistency was pretty phenomenal.

Anusha: We weren’t all as successful predicting the next gen, though.

Andrew: Okay, so which of these players will have the best year: Halep, Muguruza, Stephens, Keys, Bouchard?
Lindsay: Halep.
Anusha: I’m also going Halep.
Lindsay: Muguruza will have a few special moments and stay in the top 10, but she’ll have a mini sophomore slump.
Amy: Muguruza will win a Slam. Maybe two. I was bored and watched basically every one of her matches from 2015, and she is the real deal. And she’s only going to get better.

Anusha: <clears stage for Amy to take a curtain call>

Lindsay: Haha, good call, Amy.

Amy: I’ll take the few prediction victories I can get. I do think she will get better and win more.

Lindsay: Yeah I think we will see her win another Slam, and perhaps establish more consistency. It’s going to be fun to watch what happens with her.

Anusha: There was a lot this year that no one could have predicted, though. Thoughts on Azarenka and Sharapova?  I literally forgot that Azarenka won the Indian Wells/Miami double in 2016. That happened!

Amy: Those years both came out of left field.

Lindsay: Yeah … there was no predicting that

Anusha: It certainly opened up a few draws for a few others.  We didn’t quite predict the Pliskova surge:

Lindsay: What about Pliskova? Is she going to keep moving upwards?
Andrew: Pliskova I’m not sold on.
Lindsay: I agree, Andrew.
Andrew: I find her very flat.
Amy: I’m not sold on her long-term, but it’s a safe bet she might make the top 10 in 2016 since she’s already at 11. I’m not sure she’ll end the year there. I’d probably bet against it.

Anusha: I saw her play that Cincy final, and it was pretty impressive.  I mean, Kerber must have been on absolute fumes. But Pliskova, when all cylinders are firing, is going to be tough for anyone, even a superior mover/shotmaker like Kerber.

Amy: I feel like I think of her as the Raonic of the WTA tour and that’s probably unfair.  Oh well.

Lindsay: Yeah — remember when she made it to the U.S. Open final by beating Serena? That was a thing that happened.  Like … really happened.  And then that final was a great one against Angie!

Anusha: I remember that — wait, I was at that match too.  Apparently I was a Pliskova groupie last year.

Lindsay: I’m excited about her future too — that serve!  With her and Muguruza, it’s nice to have players other than Serena at the top of the game with strong serves again.

Anusha: It completely changes the dynamics of the match.  Watching Serena trying to figure out how to break serve is something we haven’t seen since the early Williams-Williams matches. And maybe not even then.

Lindsay: Definitely.

Anusha: Other than the obvious curveballs, there were a lot of other predictions that were spot on. None of us expected much from Ana or Caro, and, well….

Lindsay: Yeah.

Anusha: I wish our predictions had been more outlandish, but they were actually pretty good this time!  But, I’ll move straight to our year end rankings:

Lindsay: 1. Serena 2. Sharapova 3. Kvitova 4. Azarenka 5. Halep. (Basically my same top five as last year, hahaha.)
Amy: 1. Serena 2. Muguruza 3. Halep 4. Kvitova 5. Venus.
Anusha: 1. Serena 2. Halep 3. Maria 4. Muguruza 5. Vika.

Anusha: Actual rankings: 1. Kerber, 2. Serena, 3. Aga, 4. Halep, 5. Domi

Lindsay: Lol.

Anusha: I feel good about keeping the Halep faith. And Aga had a sneaky good year too.

Lindsay: Yeah, I didn’t expect that.

Amy: Mine were pretty off.

Anusha: Too many curveballs for our prediction mojo. Speaking of prediction mojo, shall we move to the ATP?

Andrew: Novak Djokovic has been on top of the world. Do we think he can maintain his form?
Lindsay: Yes. /fin
Amy: I bombed this prediction badly last year, but I think it’s very tough to follow up a year like what he did in 2015, so I’m going to say no. Also, I like him now, which means he’ll get mono and be forced to retire.
Anusha: I think he wins multiple Slams. But I don’t see him running the tables as much as 2015. No Golden Slam.
Amy: Golden Career Masters 1000 Slam?????
Lindsay: I think Djokovic’s going to have another ridiculous season. I think he has another year or two (at least) of this form. He’s going to prioritize the Olympics and French, and rightly so. He was CRUSHED when he lost to Delpo in London.
Andrew: I’d give him at least two Slams and the Olympics.
Amy: I give him one.

Amy: Well, we were sort of all right — Djokovic had an amazing first half and a bad second half. And Delpo crushed him yet again at the Olympics!

Anusha: That was an amazing match.  I was in Rio and kind of eh about tennis as an Olympic sport until I saw that one.  It was the most pro-Novak crowd I’ve ever seen. A magical run for Delpo for sure.

Amy: I cried many happy Delpo-related tears this year, and that’s all I can really ask for.

Anusha: So did he!

Lindsay: I can’t believe I didn’t predict Sam Querrey beating Djokovic at WImbledon.

Anusha: I’m never going to underestimate a man with a dancing horsehead vine again.

Amy: How did we not even bother to make a prediction for Delpo? Probably because I was too depressed about his prospects.

Anusha: I think we didn’t dare.

Anusha: Well, I guess we should move to the man of the hour, Sir Andrew Murray. Here’s what we thought last year:

Andrew: Andy Murray is World No. 2 now. Will he live up to that billing or will Federer feel like the second best player in the world still?
Amy: I could see Andy picking up another Slam this year.
Lindsay: I stick by my prediction from last year: Murray will win a Slam, and therefore Mauresmo will win a Slam, and all will be right with the world.
Andrew: There was a scary moment during the clay season where I really thought he had French Open potential.
Anusha: I think Fed hangs in there. Murray isn’t any closer to figuring out Fed than he was in 2014. I see Murray getting to a Slam final or two.
Andrew: I agree Anusha, I think he makes a couple of finals and wins at least one this year. I’d love to see Andy win the Australian so that Novak has somebody chasing him for the career Slam. (I do not think Andy will win a career Slam, but I didn’t think Pennetta would win the US Open, either.)
Anusha: And Murray needs help to win a Slam — Novak or Fed or Rafa has to not be there. Preferably more than one.

Lindsay: Omg, I’m so sad Mauresmo didn’t get her Slam.

Anusha: It’s so unfair. Lendl totally cherry picked.

Lindsay: I KNOW. Typical man.

Amy: Seriously.

Anusha: He’s no fool, that Lendl.

Lindsay: Swoops in at the last second and gets the credit.

Amy: I give her the credit.  Always.

Anusha: She got him out of that post-surgery slump and took a lot of abuse for it, too.

Amy: She taught him to win matches on clay, and that’s frankly more impressive than anything else Murray’s done in the past two years.

Anusha: Do you think he can win the French? If so, she should get some extra credit for that.

Amy: If Djokovic gets ebola or something.

Anusha: LOL.  Not that I wish ebola on anyone.  But I respect your passion.

Amy: And spreads it to the entire rest of the tour except Andy.

Anusha: Do you think the officials etc. at Wimbledon will have to call him Sir Murray now?

Amy: Absolutely.

Lindsay: Don’t they already?

Anusha: It seems like the kind of thing Wimbledon would fret over. No, they probably have a rule for when titled people play.

Anusha: Our Rafa predictions were also more or less on target:

Andrew: Speaking of Rafa, what’s going on there, what’s going to happen, is he going to be ready for Paris?
Amy: I think the decline is real. I see bleak prospects for him this year.
Anusha: I think Rafa has a good showing in the clay Masters Series events. And at least makes the semis in Paris. With Fed not playing any clay masters, even a faltering Rafa should catch him at Roland Garros, if someone else hasn’t.
Andrew: I think he’ll struggle. I think he might have a great clay season but otherwise I honestly don’t know what impact he’ll really have. He’s so unpredictable now.
Andrew: So does Rafa reach a Slam final this year?
Amy: Nope.
Anusha: If he gets a good draw in Paris.
Andrew: I think he reaches one.
Amy: I’m going to be so embarrassed next year if he pulls a 2013.
Lindsay: My Rafa crystal ball is coming up with nothing. I have no idea. No inkling. Nothing. I’m so, so, so confused by his 2015.

Anusha: What do we make of how his year actually went, predictions aside? Is he any closer to solving the riddle now?

Amy: I’m sticking with my opinion that the decline is real. There just wasn’t much to be excited about in his 2016, unfortunately.

Anusha: This year certainly showed that. The Pouille match was a great display by Lucas, but man, Rafa really got pushed around on the court. No bueno.

Lindsay: Yeah; I think we will see a few more flashes of Old Rafa, but overall he just can’t sustain the physicality — which is understandable!

Amy: He has always historically been such a big match player, but it’s just the opposite at this point.

Anusha: He’s not even getting to the really big matches!

Amy: Ha, true.  On a related note, I’m still amazed by Rafa’s 2013. He was so incredible that year.

Anusha: In retrospect, it’s crazy that he came back from an injury and did that.

Lindsay: In a weird way it reminds me of Roddick — for someone with such power, he has become remarkably easy to push around and so predictable.  Just ripe for picking off if a player can rise to the occasion.

Amy: That’s a good comparison, Linz. Hadn’t thought of that but it’s very true.

Anusha:Rafa’s game has always been this kind of Rube Goldberg contraption with a lot of moving parts. As he gets older, some of the parts just don’t work as well, and the whole thing falters.

Lindsay: Right, it makes sense. And as Amy said, it really does make his comeback year in 2013 just seem that much more amazing in hindsight.

Anusha: Idiosyncratic breaks down faster, I guess.

Lindsay: I do think it’s going to be quite some time until we see another ATP player dominate a year the way that Djokovic and Nadal and Federer did for such a long stretch.

Amy: I really hesitate to make judgments about players’ motivation, but to me it feels a bit like Rafa wants it less than he once did. I think he’s sort of resigned to the decline, and it might need a healthy dose of denial of the concept of aging to play at his old high level. He needs like the delusion of a Fed who thinks he can win Wimbedon at age 2394320843290483204329.

Anusha: I think he really enjoyed the days of picking off Fed, outgrinding him and whatnot. Outgrinding Murray/Novak is just a less appetizing proposition. The guy who is pretty much the opposite of Rafa, Stan, had another gangbusters year. Which we kind of predicted.

Andrew: Wawrinka won the Aussie in 2014, the French in 2015. What does he pick up this year? Should Wimbledon be preparing Swiss flags … ?
Lindsay: No. But I could see him winning Rio. And maybe making a final.
Amy: I say no on Stan. But he’s so hard to predict.
Anusha: I definitely could see him with a medal. Not sure if it’s gold.
Andrew: I think Wimbledon is the last one I’d pick him for, but I can see him winning a Slam or the Olympics.
Lindsay: I don’t think we’re done with Big-Time Stan yet, but it’ll never be a constant.
Andrew: Exactly.
Anusha: Agreed. He will always be a threat at the big events.

Lindsay: I was just about a month off, haha.

Amy: He might be creepy, but he can play good tennis sometimes, apparently.

Anusha: In this era of so many players folding before the big 4, I find his willingness to push refreshing.

Andrew: What about the following gang: Kyrgios, Tomic, Raonic, Dimitrov, Thiem. Are we going to hear big things from them?
Amy: Top 10 Tomic, you’ve heard it here first. (Many times already, to be fair.)
Andrew: Hmmm. Don’t buy that one, Amy
Amy: It’s a legit prediction. He’s No. 18 already! Also, he did nothing in Australia last year, so he has room to gain here.
Andrew: I think Kyrgios is where you’ve gotta look for an Aussie going Top 10.
Amy: No way.
Andrew: I’m still ALL IN on the NK train. I do not think Dimitrov will pick up his game this year. I have zero confidence in him right now.
Anusha: I’m not confident on Dimitrov. He needs a good tactician as a coach.
Lindsay: I think we’re going to see at least one spectacular run from Kyrgios this year. Maybe a Masters final? God, just thinking about that group gives me a headache.
Anusha: Agreed on Kyrgios. Thiem is the one who has disappointed me the least. But I think Kyrgios is the one who has the most belief, which you need to go after the top guys.

Anusha: I think we have to give Raonic some credit. You, too, Amy.

Amy: I will not. But you can go ahead!

Lindsay: I mean, you have to give Thiem credit, he needs to really change his schedule but he’s a steady top 10er now, and could possibly take it a step forward. Raonic and Nishikori are consistent presences in the top 5 which is nice, but Lucas Pouille was the revelation of the year, I think; I’m super excited about him, and I didn’t know who he was really this time last year.

Amy: I’ve been a longtime fan of Pouille because he beat Ferrer a bunch of times.

Anusha: I was really impressed with Theim’s first half.  He overplayed for sure and paid the price, but he looked solid. Pouille looked really impressive. He even looked good on that super glossy Periscope practice session with Grandpa Fed in Dubai.

Lindsay: Shall we discuss Fed?

Anusha: Sure — not a bad start to the year, then he draws a bath, and … That said, his Wimbledon run was both lucky and impressive, given the circumstances.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this layoff gives him more time on the back end of ye olde career.

Lindsay: Yeah, same, it was a smart thing to do if he still has the desire to keep going, which he somehow does have. Probably because he realizes that Djokovic and Nadal and Murray aren’t unstoppable right now and everyone else is shit and he has a better shot at a breakthrough now than maybe the last couple of years.

Amy: Vulturerer. Always fun.

Anusha: His game is such that, with a lucky draw, he can always make inroads. Now, here’s the real test of our prognosticating skills.

Amy: Of Tomic and Kyrgios, who will have more scandals this year? And predict what kind.
Andrew: Kyrgios, unsportsmanlike conduct on court. Tomic, nonsense dickheadedness off court.
Amy: I think that’s right. Tomic’s will involve fast cars and/or nudity. (So it’s good it’ll be off-court.)
Anusha: I think Nike puts a tighter leash on Nick. Bernie’s scandals will be more naked.
Amy: I don’t think Nike can contain Nick. I predict he’ll say something really offensive on-court and people will flip out. Also, some terrible tweets.

Anusha: I don’t think Bernie had a mugshot this year. Mazel tov, Amy.

Amy: HELL YEAH!

Lindsay: Lolol.

Amy: Kyrgios definitely had some terrible tweets.

Anusha: And some tanking. One hopes he turns the corner — he’s got tons of talent, and there are going to be opportunities to win Slams. Did Bernie defend Bogota?

Amy: Bogota doesn’t exist anymore! They moved the tournament to Mexico.

Lindsay: When Bernie wins multiple times … your event must be killed.

Anusha: Grand Master Bogota Challenger Champion Bernie Tomic.

Amy: It has a truthful ring to it.

Anusha: Here are our 2016 rankings:

Amy: 1. Djokovic 2. Murray 3. Tomic 4. Federer 5. Stan. I’m ALL IN.
Andrew: Oh Amy, no.
Amy: 2016 = BEST YEAR EVER, LEGENDARY STATUS. And he’ll defend Bogota.
Anusha: 1. Novak 2. Murray 3. Stan 4. Fed 5. Rafa.
Andrew: 1. Djokovic 2. Federer 3. Murray 4. Wawrinka 5. Raonic.
Lindsay: 1. Djokovic 2. Murray 3. Federer 4. Nishikori 5. Rafa.

Anusha: Technically, you weren’t wrong.  Bernie may have defended Bogota in his heart.

Amy: Man, I was really wrong though. Oy. Oh Amy no indeed.

Anusha: The Fed curveball was hard for anyone to predict.  He’s sort of like the Cher of the tour, you expect him to be there all the time. As for Bernie, as Selena Gomez says, the heart wants what it wants.

Amy: I must’ve been drinking when I made the predictions and we got to the end.

Lindsay: Hahaha, but you and Anusha both got Stan … and Andrew! I was the big miss there, haha.

Anusha: None of the three of us predicted Raonic. I think he secretly knew and added it to his motivation board.

Amy: Ugh.

Anusha: Well, Andrew gets another virtual high five. He had way more faith than the rest of us.

Amy: We must #resist.

Anusha: Strangely, our predictions generally were pretty good for 2016, for the things that weren’t crazy curveballs. We spent a lot of time anticipating the Olympics, now, looking back, what do you make of the tournament, and how it affected the year?

Amy: I’m definitely not biased at all, but it was the best tournament of the year except tied with Davis Cup. But seriously, it was an amazing tournament.

Anusha: I didn’t expect it to be.  I started off thinking, man, there are so many other tennis tournaments, and Rio doesn’t feel much different than another week on the tours, but then the even really caught fire — between Delpo and Monica Puig, it was a barn burner.

Lindsay: It was so great. Monica Puig was one of the best stories of the year. And Delpo, of course. It was the most fun I had watching tennis all year.

Amy: I love that Delpo’s year was so unexpectedly good that he basically skipped the 2017 AO to finish partying.

Anusha: Hanging out at home with his bench!

There were some terrible stories, none worse than the attack on Petra Kvitova.  I still am stunned and horrified.

Lindsay: I can’t even fathom it still.

Amy: Me too. Just devastating. I hope her recovery goes well, those are such bad injuries to come back from.

Anusha: It doesn’t even feel appropriate to discuss her results in 2016, given what has happened.  I’m glad that she seems to be in a good mental space, but recovery is rarely a straight line.

Lindsay: I think in different ways, her attack and Ivanovic’s retirement announcement were reminders that while yes, results are important and we love the matches and the tournaments, we also just become attached to these players as people, and how they all bring something different to the tour with their personalities and playing styles. I get so attached and don’t even realize it.

3 Responses

  1. catherine bell
    catherine bell January 9, 2017 at 3:01 pm |

    Just one comment- re a prediction for Kerber in 17 – from quotes I read from her in Brisbane she’s still reliving last year – understandably, but suggests her head’s not in the right place yet. She’ll struggle.

    But if anyone deserves another GS Angie does – so hope she makes it. W’don maybe too far – but US Open again perhaps.

  2. catherine bell
    catherine bell January 10, 2017 at 3:29 am |

    PS – Just saw Angie lost in Sydney which backs up my prediction I think 🙂

    But who knows ?

    1. Anusha Rasalingam
      Anusha Rasalingam January 10, 2017 at 9:01 pm |

      I agree — it’s got to be incredibly hard to get your head around a year like last year, especially for Angie because she had many years before where it didn’t come together like that.

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