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Tennis 2018: Men's Singles' roundup

The year being full of unending surprises with a unique tinge of familiarity, Ananya Das writes about what went by and what is expected to happen in the world of tennis.

The year, 2017 was just one of those years for tennis where the surprises were unending but there was this unique familiarity to the whole thing. The surprises were the big guns such as Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray missing the competitions and the familiarity was that once again, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer ruled the court and the rivalry we all love to watch was revived again. But one can't help but wonder if the odds would really be in their favor in such a manner had the ones who missed the competitions were still playing. Pondering about possibilities, could Nadal and FedEx really walk over the tournament the way they did if the right competition was available?

This is not to say that the likes of David Goffin and Marin Cilic are not the 'right' competition, they are just as lethal if not more but in all fairness, the playing field wasn't even close to being leveled this year. The year wasn't just about Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, it was also about the players who emerged from the pits of the almost unknown and made a mark so deep, they will be feared in 2018 as well. It was Grigor Dimitrov who snatched the ATP final championship from David Goffin; nowhere do names like Nadal and Federer appear here. Like mentioned, surprises and familiarity was the key phrase of the 2017 ATP tour and the season in itself.
2018 will be a new story altogether. The kind of form that Roger Federer is in will be hard to match. For Federer, 2017 was animalistic; almost as if he had a primal need to show the world and especially, his long-time rival Nadal that he meant business and how.
However good his form may be, we must not forget that he is 36 years old with a history of back problem – how that shapes up for Fedx, and if the consistency will be a solution to vital questions we've been asking. Nadal, in all probability, will focus on the French Open – scheduling his games around the tournament. Let's not forget that he is also 31 and injuries have not been kind to him. Joint problems have always been a struggle for the Spaniard and if not careful, it might just be the story you don't want to read. One of the reasons why the 2018 season will be the one to watch out for is because major contenders will emerge from the backseat that they had taken due to various reasons and it seems that the exploits that Federer and Nadal had this year might not be so easy to recreate again.
Who are these phoenixes rising from the ashes that we're talking about? It is the likes of Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka. When talking about Andy Murray, many won't forget the fantastic season he had in 2016 – finishing no.1 and only a few can forget the cracking match he had against Djokovic in the Wimbledon finals.
All of this said and done, Murray, despite being named the best British athlete of all time, struggles with creating big moments. Having parted from his coach Ivan Lendl, Murray will have a hard time bringing his A game to the courts.
David Goffin, 27, will play the role of the key disrupter in all of this and while he might not be equipped to win the Grand Slams, he will be a major competitor and might even win a few, upsetting the marquee players. In fact, with the likes of Goffin and other young 20-somethings, the veteran stars of tennis will be given a run for their money. Players like Kei Nishikori and Raonic missed out on some tennis court action due to injuries towards the end but they will be back fit next year and will push through to final stages of many tournaments. Jack Sock, Dominic Thiem, and Zverev will also be patiently (or not) waiting for their turn next year. In a nutshell, it will be a full house.
Alexander Zverev is just 20 years old. Put that in perspective and understand that he has finished his season with a ranking of no.4. He possesses uncanny confidence when he plays and his ferocious serves are a testament to the fact that 5 years down the line, Zverev will be the name on every tennis fan's lips. In 2018 however, Zverev will have to try and clinch his momentum back. As good as he is, he somehow almost always fails to hit high notes in big-ticket games but the way his strength is progressing, no one will doubt that 2018 can be his breakthrough year if he tries enough.
While we sit and talk about the young guns, one major player making a pivotal comeback is Novak Djokovic who will want his no.1 position back and he will do almost everything in his power to get it. Novak is one of those players who have cracked the code to victory and there's no reason why that shouldn't happen when he makes his big comeback.
Sure, Djokovic has been in a bit of a slump with his elbow injury and the few personal problems mounting up that constituted to his motivational and emotional struggles but with the help of his coaches Andre Agassi who is also a close friend of his and Boris Becker he should be back in business in no time. In fact, there is very little reason to believe why he won't be a title contender.
All said and done, the competition pool will be full of bloodshed and sweat next year. Rivalries will be back, the odds will be harder to beat and the fans will be united again in order to support the players they could not this year. It will be a rollercoaster ride in all sentiments if not more. There are a lot of titles for the taking and the players will be ready.

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