Eilís Brennan is here to discuss the main talking points of what has been a very eventful year of Grand Slams, particularly the recent US Open. Now it’s time to look forward to a new year with a new generation of players coming through. Tennis says goodbye to the Grand Slams for 2014 but with a few questions raised following the US Open.
Bye-bye big three?
The Australian Open in 2005 was the last time either Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic didn’t contest a Grand Slam final. That’s 38 Slams! This consistency was shattered by Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori last weekend. Does this mean the end of the Big 3’s dominance? Quite possibly.
Nadal is only a favourite for the French Open, Federer is an old man in tennis terms and Djokovic has been quite up-and-down this year. I personally love having these three players around; they’re fantastic sportsmen. But it is nice to see other players get their time to shine.
2015 will be an interesting year for them. So many questions abound. How will Nadal play after his long injury lay-off? Has Federer missed his chance for No.18? Can Djokovic become the 8th man to do the career Grand Slam by winning the French Open?
Serena slam #2?
With Major No.18 in the bag, Serena Williams will go into the 2015 season as hot favourite for all Grand Slams. She could pull off another ‘Serena Slam’ as she did back in 2003 when she won the Australian Open, after winning the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open the previous year.
2013 hadn’t been the best year for Williams at the Slams but at Flushing she proved why she is one of the greatest female players. Hard-courts have always been her best surface, winning 41 of her 63 singles titles on the hard stuff. Serena will be gunning for Major No.19 at the Australian Open, which would put her equal with Helen Wills Moody.
Will Federer reach 18?
The US Open gave Roger Federer a golden opportunity to add to his Grand Slam collection. No Nadal, Djokovic beaten in the semi-finals and he had a 5-0 record against Marin Cilic. However, Cilic obviously hadn’t read the script and demolished the Swiss in straight sets. According to former coach Paul Annacone, Federer rarely dwells on losses, which is probably for the best.
Switzerland are on the verge of reaching their first Davis Cup final since 1992 and, in my opinion, have a great chance of winning the title. This could be the boost Federer needs going into the 2015 season. We all know how Novak Djokovic’s 2011 season went when he won the Davis Cup in 2010.
Wizard of Woz
It may not have been the fairytale ending she was hoping for but Caroline Wozniacki can take a lot of confidence from her run at the US Open. Nobody really considered her a potential finalist but she showed at Flushing that Woz is back. Her defence looks solid and she has also added an extra pop onto her serve.
It hasn’t been the easiest year for Caroline but, since Wimbledon, she has racked up a 19-4 record. It was her 4th round match against Maria Sharapova that the Dane announced her return to form. Her training for the New York marathon seems to be paying off as Wozniacki didn’t seem at all bothered by the stifling conditions that effected many at the US Open.
Like Serena, hard-courts are her best surface and she will be a threat at the Australian Open. Will 2015 be the year Caroline wins her first Grand Slam title? Never say never!
Stan the man
Stan Wawrinka shocked a lot of people winning his first Grand Slam at Melbourne earlier this year. Facing Rafael Nadal, he was the ultimate underdog, but he pulled off the upset. Nadal may be been hampered by an injury but it shouldn’t take away from how well Wawrinka played throughout the tournament.
Since then, the Swiss hasn’t really capitalised on his success, seemingly overwhelmed by his achievement. It can take players a while to adjust to their new-found status as a Grand Slam champion.
Cilic for Australian Open?
His victory at the US Open made Marin Cilic the first Croat to win a Grand Slam title since Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon in 2001. After a tough 5-setter against Gilles Simon in the 4th round, the Medjugorje native blasted his way to the title without dropping a set.
It will be interesting to see how Marin copes with the expectation on his shoulders. Will he be overwhelmed like Stan Wawrinka? Or will he become the first man since John Newcombe to win his second Grand Slam straight after his first?
Nishikori on the rise
He managed to knock out Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Novak Djokovic but, unfortunately, Kei Nishikori didn’t have enough in the tank for the final. He will be bitterly disappointed by his performance, especially since he had picked up two wins over Marin Cilic earlier this year. Just like Federer, he found out how powerful the Croat can be.
Nishikori should be very proud of how his 2014 went – two titles, career high ranking of No.8 and US Open finalist. He has what it takes to win a Grand Slam and climb further up the rankings. Watch out for him at the World Tour Finals in November. Definitely one to keep an eye on.
Eilís Brennan, Pundit Arena
Featured image By Roman Boed (Flickr: Marin Cilic Serving) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.