1. Federer will fall from No.2 but rise for Wimbledon No.8
With a tour-leading 73 match wins last season, Roger Federer will have a tough time bettering that in 2015. But it is the big ones the Swiss great plays this game for after all, so expect him to rebound from a train-wreck of an Australian Open campaign to break clear of Pete Sampras with an eighth trophy on the turf at the All England Club. It’s a little soon to be cramming his second set of twins courtside to witness that final, so he won’t be hanging up the racquet any time this season.
2. Djokovic will claim his first French Open
This one’s sure to ruffle a few feathers among the Rafanatics, but the Serb will finally land the one slam missing from his collection. As a more accomplished mover and strategist with the red dirt under foot than Sampras was in Paris, he will rightfully pass the American great as a player owning each of the four majors on his mantelpiece.
3. Murray will challenge Djokovic for the top ranking
Having recovered the confidence lacking in 2014 on his sluggish return after back surgery, Murray’s typical brick-wall retrieving, combined with a fresh team beginning to gel, will bring a fresh approach and renewed belief to see him regularly pushing deep at all four majors. Consistent results as opposed to any huge breakthroughs are what will see him better the fluctuating seasons of Rafael Nadal and Federer.
4. Kyrgios will crack the top 25
Already having surged to No.35 in the world after his quarterfinal run at Melbourne Park, the 19-year-old has scant points to defend outside Wimbledon. He won just one tour match outside the slams last year, so it is not unreasonable to expect he will be seeded in time for the Indian Wells-Miami stretch. Improved match conditioning will see him notch more match victories, while he’ll change up the design of those sculpted tracks shaved into his noggin at an increasing rate of once a month. Expect him to be Australia’s highest-ranked player, man or woman, by year’s end.
5. Cilic won’t back up his watershed 2014 moment
The affable Croatian won’t repeat his 2014 US Open with a spate of ongoing injury lay-offs and the added pressure of defending a Grand Slam title proving too much, seeing him drop back out of the top 10.
6. Raonic and Nishikori will remain slamless
If Djokovic, Nadal and Federer remain fit in 2015, the big-serving, lumbering Canadian will not go close to landing a maiden Grand Slam title, having a one from 15 record against these three. Nishikori has already conceded he may be a few years off breaking through, but he will have the best season of the two. Watch him to again fire at Flushing Meadows.
7. Dimitrov will reach first slam final
While Dimitrov too may be some way off cracking the Grand Slam duck, he will follow up his breakthrough at Wimbledon from 2014 by going one better this time around on either the grass or on the hardcourts at Flushing Meadows to contest his first final. His record against the Big Three is almost as bad as Raonic’s – one from 13 – so he will likely have to buck this trend against at least one of them to reach a decider.
8. Nadal will not win a slam for first time in 11 years
Back, knee, shoulder, foot, wrist and appendix. The injury list mounts. This one is purely dependent on which joint decides to pack it in next for the Spaniard. Granted, if he is even close to fully fit, he will rack up double digits in Roland Garros crowns and inch closer to Federer’s 17-slam record. But having missed or been severely hampered at each of the other three majors at least once in his career, odds are it will eventually happen at his go-to slam.
9. Hewitt will rack up more wildcards than match wins
The stalwart of Australian men’s tennis for the past decade has announced he will hang up the racquet after his Melbourne Park campaign in 2016. It’s a year-long farewell tour, where he will likely skip the claycourt swing to rest those weary feet on the sands of the Bahamas before arriving early on the practice courts at SW19 to scatter a few pigeons in the opening rounds at Wimbledon. The soon-to-be 34-year-old’s ranking will plummet, and match wins away from the grass will be scarce.
10. It will be a torrid return for Del Potro
Another round of wrist surgery is not out of the question for Delpo, so even if that is a success and he plays pain-free again, he will then have the enormous mental burden of wondering whether one of his two suspect wrists will again fail him. There’s as much chance of him switching to a single-handed backhand as there is of Murray cheering for the England football team, and it is likely to be a limited schedule for 2015. Injury-free though, and if the confidence returns, the Tower from Tandil will stifle the hype over Raonic and co and show he is still the player to best shake up the Big Four in the majors.
> re-live Australian Open 2015 at the tournament website