by Paula Vergara
Snow is on the ground, and there is not a tennis match in sight. That must mean it’s time to roll out my wish list for the 2014 tennis season. I can sum up this year in a nutshell, using three words: Serena/Rafa dominated. There were also fist-pumping comebacks, coaching changes, as well as some hints as to which up-and-comers will be making their move in 2014.
Looking back on 2013, more than a few of my tennis wishes did, in fact, come true.
Rafa came back strong, and as a bonus, returned to the No. 1 ranking. (What knee pain?) The King of Clay also dominated the hard courts, with a 22-0 record.
Unfortunately (yet predictably), there were some wishes that didn’t exactly go my way. Maria Sharapova did not remain injury free. The Davis Cup format hasn’t changed. John Isner did not crack the top 5. Juan Martin wasn’t able to muscle his way into the top 4 this year, but at No. 5, he’s close enough.
As we approach a new tennis season, the slate is wiped clean, hopes are high, and opportunities abound. Below is a list of 20 things I’d like to see happen during the 2014 tennis season.
1) Maria Sharapova’s right shoulder bursitis kept her sidelined for a good portion of 2013, but if her Facebook/Twitter posts are any indication of her progress, she’s clearly logged quite a few hours at the gym to get back into competitive shape. My wish for her is actually for her new coach, Sven Groeneveld. Fingers crossed that he lasts longer than Jimmy Connors. Let’s also hope he likes candy.
2) The Bryan Brothers: Age: 35, and ranked No. 1 for 344 weeks. Three Grand Slam titles in one year, and a total of 11 titles won. Rewind 2013 and repeat.
3) Tommy Haas and Lleyton “Rusty” Hewitt: Both are just a few years away from getting their AARP cards, but incredibly, these thirty-somethings are still playing high level tennis. My wish for them is to let us in on their secrets. Ice baths can only do so much.
4) Mardy Fish: He seems to be in-between careers at the moment, trading in his tennis racket for a golf club. My wish for Mardy is, as always, to be well. We would miss him in tennis, but if he can make it happen on the pro golf tour at this stage of his career, then I say, follow your bliss (and a good paycheck).
5) Without a doubt, 2013 was good to Andy Murray. He earned his first Wimbledon title (while making history), had his own postage stamp commemorating his Wimbledon win, and even bought a hotel. But, he can’t seem to win the Australian Open. Three out of the past four years, he has lost in the final. My wish is for Andy to win it this year, and get that monkey off his back.
6) Roger Federer: He’s 32 years old, and ranked No. 6. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but if you are someone who is accustomed to getting a 4.0 in college, a 3.8 or 3.9 can be crushing. Let’s hope his future coach, whoever that is (Edberg??), can help him score Grand Slam #18, and put him back on the Honor Roll.
7) John Isner: My wish for him is that his coach, Michael Sell can put something between his ears to get him into a top 5 mindset. Also, is it possible for John to tweet about something other than football? Maybe I’m asking for too much.
8) Milos Raonic: Canada’s No. 1 player can finally lose the up-and-comer status, but can he become a consistent top 1o player? I’m sure this is on his own wish list for 2014. One thing he won’t need to work on–his serve. Milos racked up 883 aces for the year.
9) I’d like to witness Nadal/Federer playing each other at the U.S. Open. (Due to a statistical fluke, that has never happened.) Simply put, it is still the greatest rivalry in tennis.
10) Where is Sam Querrey? In 2013, he failed to advance to a final for the first time since 2011, despite having a very reliable first serve. My wish for him is to climb back into the top 20. More detail here on Sam’s injuries and off-court distractions.
11) Stan Wawrinka: Stan-the-man wins the never-give-up award. I guess if you hang around with Roger Federer long enough, he starts to rub off on you. Maybe a Slam for Stan? I could happen.
12) There are a few newcomers that have the potential to create some upsets in 2014 – Victoria Duval (def. Sam Stosur at the US Open/1st round), Genie Bouchard (Canada’s No. 1), and Sachia Vickery (American up-and-comer who recently won the wildcard playoffs for a spot in the Australian Open). Who doesn’t like a good upset?
13) Juan Martin del Potro: He has at least one more Grand Slam in him, but he’ll need some help to get there. Hopefully the Pope will give him another Rosary, after the first one was brazenly stolen.
14) Serena Williams: Her W/L record for 2013: 78-4. The problem with having that type of season is, every year thereafter, she will have to live up to that level. My wish for her is to remain healthy enough to have shot at repeating her success in 2013.
15) I’d like to see at least one established, yet slam-less WTA player win a Grand Slam this year. Some of those who come to mind: Caroline Wozniacki (hired Thomas Hogstedt as her new coach), Sabine Lisicki (she came close in the 2013 Wimbledon final), and Aggie Radwanska.
16) No slippery grass at Wimbledon this year.
17) The ATP banned Bernie Tomic’s violent and dysfunctional father, John Tomic, from tournaments. Now, can they get him on Dr. Phil?
18) Tommy Robredo. Keep proving everybody wrong.
19) Ross Hutchins is now in remission from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My wish for him is to get his tennis groove back. Alisa Kleybanova is in the process of making her own comeback, after recovering from the same type of cancer. It would be great to see them playing mixed doubles together.
20) Last, but not least, Boris Becker was recently chosen as Novak Djokovic’s coach. It’s not as bizarre as Dennis Rodman trying to act as a political mediator between the U.S. and North Korea, but it is a head-scratcher. I hope this union will last for the entire 2014 season. FYI on Murray and Djokovic’s coaches (Lendl & Becker): Ivan Lendl’s career H2H over Boris is 11-10, but Boris beat Lendl in three Grand Slam finals (1991 Aussie Open, 1992 US Open, and the 1986 Wimbledon final).
Have a wonderful holiday season, and I hope to see you somewhere near a tennis court in 2014!
Feel free to add your own wishes.