Ten burning questions for the ATP World Tour in 2016

With the 2016 ATP World Tour campaign three weeks away, the Grandstand’s Ricky Dimon and Steen Kirby of Tennis Atlantic answer 10 intriguing questions in advance of the upcoming season.

1) Will Novak Djokovic dominate the ATP Tour again in 2016?

Ricky: Yes. To the extent that he did in 2015? Probably not, but he will still finish the year No. 1 by a wide margin. How wide will be determined by the clay-court swing–more specifically, by whether or not Rafael Nadal returns to his clay-court form of old. I will predict that Djokovic wins two majors, but I think he has a better chance of winning three than of winning one.

Steen: While I expect Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and a renewed Nadal (plus potentially Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka) to test him in slams and Masters, Djokovic is still in his prime and remains the most well-rounded, fittest player on tour. He’ll hold onto world No. 1 and win at least two majors, with a Grand Slam possible but not probable.
Djoker warmup
2) Will Djokovic win the elusive Roland Garros title?

Ricky: No–unless Nadal is less than 100 percent physically when the French Open rolls around. The Spaniard is already playing much better than he was throughout most of 2015 and he should be in peak form time for next spring. Nadal will win his 10th title there. And even if he doesn’t, it’s not like Djokovic would be lock. He got taken to five by Andy Murray this year and then lost to Stan Wawrinka.

Steen: Going to say no on this one. Nadal should be better if he can stay healthy and continue his end-of-season form from this year. Additionally, clay presents the best chance for Djokovic to get knocked out by another challenger. In all likelihood 2015 was his best shot at this title, and he came up short.

3) Will Djokovic win the calendar-year Grand Slam?

Ricky: No. Even if he wins the French (and the Australian), he will still have a long way to go. Throwing the Olympics into the mix–even though it doesn’t count toward the CYGS–doesn’t help. It will be hard for anyone to stay in absolute top mental and physical condition through so many huge tournaments in such a short time frame to win every single major title.

Steen: Referring to my answer on questions 1 and 2, no. Murray will have a shot at Wimbledon, along with Federer. Nadal and Wawrinka will have their chances on clay, and the hard-court majors could see an outsider such as Nishikori step up and win a slam, as well. Djokovic has a shot at three slams, but it would take luck to get all four.

4) Among Federer, Nadal and Murray, who will finish above the others?

Ricky: Nadal. I saw enough positive things from him at the World Tour Finals to feel confident in a return to No. 2 in the world next season. The combination of a healthy Nadal and a boatload of clay-court tournaments on the schedule will be too much for anyone other than Djokovic to stop. Obviously this is contingent on his health–just as it would be for anyone else.

Steen: Nadal should return to the top 4, but Murray’s improvement on clay and Federer’s consistency should allow them to remain in some order of the 2 and 3 spots with Djokovic at No. 1. Scheduling will also have some impact, but I’ll go with Murray’s well-rounded game to get him to No. 2.

5) Juan Martin Del Potro?

Ricky: I’m done making predictions on Del Potro. I’ll just be happy if he returns sometime in the first few months of 2016, stays relatively injury-free, and plays occasional tournaments–the last three slams, maybe a couple of Masters 1000s, and few other random events–throughout the year. Okay, whatever–I’ll at least make a not-so-bold prediction: Del Potro will finish in the top 100…but just barely.

Steen: He’s been out of the game for so long the rust factor along will mean it will take him half a season to acclimate to ATP-style tennis–and that’s if he can stay healthy and have some kind of a backhand. Del Potro surely is still a good power hitter, but a more limited version should result in a ranking outside the top 50. He could be an occasional factor in 250s and 500s, but not much else.
Delpo 1
6) Who will have the better year: Nick Kyrgios or Jack Sock?

Ricky: “Better” in terms of being ranked higher? Kyrgios. Sock will be more consistent, but Kyrgios’ ceiling–at least right now–is higher. It would not be that shocking to see the Aussie reach another Grand Slam quarterfinal (or two) or even a semifinal. A Masters 1000 final also would not be too much of a surprise. Those kinds of big results will inflate his ranking. Sock also won’t helped by the fact that he will once again play a ton of doubles with Vasek Pospisil and try to make another run at the World Tour Finals.

Steen: Sock should have the better year due to his consistency and mental stability. Kyrgios has the talent and he’s clutch, but you never know when the wheels will come off and staying healthy could also be a concern. Sock has a more difficult schedule, but I see his steady improvement enough to give him a chance to challenge for the American No. 1 spot.

7) Will someone outside the Big 4 win a Grand Slam title? Or even reach a slam final?

Ricky: No. Definitely not a title and probably not even a final. Wawrinka proved he is no one-hit wonder, but a third slam victory is asking too much. I don’t see another run being made by Marin Cilic or Kei Nishikori. Potential finals could be made by Milos Raonic at Wimbledon and John Isner at the U.S. Open if they serve out of this world for a whole fortnight, but even those are long-shots at best.

Steen: I don’t see someone outside the big 4 winning a slam title, but I think we’ll see at least one non-Big four finalist in a slam this year. Federer, Murray, and Nadal off of clay are all vulnerable to an upset before the final in a way Djokovic isn’t. Wawrinka, Nishikori, and even players like Tsonga, Raonic, or Kyrgios have the ability to make runs on multiple surfaces.

8) Who is you best bet to qualify for the World Tour Finals that didn’t in 2015? And whom will he replace?

Ricky: I wouldn’t be overly surprised if it’s the exact same field of eight. David Ferrer is the obvious choice to exit, but I’m done forecasting the Spaniard’s relative demise. The guy is an absolute machine–and will continue to be regardless of his age. If I had to pick any change, I’d go with John Isner replacing Nishikori. Whichever one stays healthier throughout the entire season could punch his ticket to London.

Steen: Fabio Fognini has the talent, but most likely a Frenchman will find his way into the top 8. It could be either Gasquet or Tsonga, with an outside chance of a healthy Monfils. Ferrer or Tomas Berdych could potentially slip up, and a player like Nishikori is brittle enough to get hurt and miss the top 8 because of missed time on tour.

9) How many Americans will finish the season in the Top 50?

Ricky: I’ll go with five, which is two more than the current number. Isner and Sock are obviously locks. Steve Johnson is on the rise and is already up to 32nd. Sam Querrey is boring but should be able to get back into the mix. Donald Young is the risky pick here, but he should do enough damage at home in the United States to finish in the top 50. None of the young guns will be ready by 2016 and Ryan Harrison won’t get into enough main draws with his current ranking of No. 113.

Steen: Four Americans is my call, Isner, Sock, and Johnson should be able to hold serve in the top 50, and Young, Querrey, and Denis Kudla have the ability to do the same–with dark-horse shots for Jared Donaldson or Francis Tiafoe should they catch fire and take advantage of their wild-card opportunities.
IsnerTrophyEdited
10) Best year: Goffin, Paire, Tomic, or Thiem?

Ricky: This one will likely come down to Goffin or Thiem. Paire and Tomic are wildly inconsistent both on the court in the head. The Frenchman also has an extensive history of injuries. Thiem may eventually have a better career than Goffin and the Austrian has the firepower with which to win slams. But the Belgian is 25 years old to Thiem’s 22. In this era, 25 is much closer to prime-time. Both guys are all-court players who can rack up points whenever, wherever. They are headed for the top 10 at some point, but Goffin will get closer in 2015.

Steen: Paire could make some deep runs and notch upset wins, but Goffin should finish ranked the highest and have the best season overall. He’s a consistent ball-striker with a clear head–unlike Paire and Tomic–and his peak outside clay is better than Thiem’s. Thiem should have a good clay-court season, but points and performance-wise Goffin should maintain the edge this year and continue his top-20 form.

103 Comments on Ten burning questions for the ATP World Tour in 2016

  1. Not sure who can challenge Novak, but no one is infallible. I have watched Roger in the IPTL and he looks tired to me. Age may be a factor. And for some reason he chokes when he gets to Novak in whatever final they are playing. I read Milos pulled out of the IPTL and is on bed rest, not sure what his season will be like. He doesn’t impress me anyway. I think Monfils and Kyrios are the most athletic players out there, both have problems with mental game. Sock is doing well, needs to work on all those double faults, it’s hurting him. Querrey, is he still playing? I’m hoping someone breaks out of the pact and we see something new. I do like Nadal’s chances for RG.

  2. Will see whether anyone including Djokovic will be able to stand up to Rafael Nadal on the clay of Roland Garros. Rafa will be playing at a high level when the clay court season rolls around.

    I don’t think Djokovic will enjoy the same level of success in 2016.

  3. My thoughts on the questions for 2016 are as follows –

    1)I voted for Novak winning 2 slams. I do not see him dominating the way he did in 2015. I expect Rafa to be back strong this year and competitive in slams, especially RG. That’s the one he’s going to want for sure, getting his 10th title. I do expect Novak to be #1 again.

    2)I don’t think that Novak will win RG in 2016 I do think his best shot was 2015 after beating an out of form Rafa in the quarterfinals. I don’t think anybody saw Stan beating him in the final. I expect Rafa to be ready by the time the clay season comes around.

    3) No, I don’t see Novak winning the calendar slam in 2016. I am expecting 2016 to be more competitive, with Murray in the mix at Wimbledon along with Fed and obviously Rafa at RG.

    4)This one was a bit tougher for me. Of course, I would love to see Rafa get back to #2 in 2016. But I don’t know that I am ready to rule out either Murray or Fed being there. Right now Murray and Fed have been jockeying back and forth for the #2 spot. I think Rafa has a good chance to get there. He has to get back in the top four in 2016 for sure and should do it. He’s set himself up nicely right outside at #5 for now. Rafa’s form in the final months of this year has shown that he seems to have put his mental and confidence issues behind him. Now he just has to work on fine tuning aspects of his game to be back at his best.

    5) I don’t know what to expect with Del Potro. He’s lost so much time due to additional wrist surgery that it’s hard to predict anything. It’s going to take him some time to get his physical fitness back. I think his best years have been lost to the wrist injuries. I think getting back to inside the top 100 would be an accomplishment.

    6)I am not sure about Kyrgios and Sock. Kyrgios can be wildly inconsistent, so it’s hard to know what to expect from him. He’s got the game to be ranked higher, but you just never know with him. Sock is the more consistent player, so he might do better.

    7) No, I do not see someone outside the top 4 winning a slam, nor do I see someone outside the top 4 getting to the final of one.

    8) I am not sure about who might make the WTF next year after not qualifying this year. That depends on any number of things. Injuries could chsnge things up. Nishi needs to stay healthy if he wants to do it. I do see a Frenchman qualifying next year, possibly Gasquet or Tsonga, maybe Monfils if he stays healthy..

    9) I will go with 4 Americans in the top 50. Isner, Sock, Johnson, and any one of Querrey, Young or Kudla.

    10) Paire or Tomic are way too inconsistent. I agree it’s between Goffin and Thiem. I think for now it’s most likely going to be Goffin.

    • U prob won’t believe me but I actually predicted Stan in five sets when they played in the final cuz I thought Stan would play with nothing to lose and play really well and Novak would miss chances and get tight but he didn’t really get tight he just got beat.

  4. No way that Joker have a similar year in 206…just too many great players out there. He’ll win one Slam, but that’s it, and I like Thiem to make the biggest move.

  5. i can easily see nole winning multiple slams again next year. i hope he doesn’t because i want rafa to win slams again but i don’t know why just because it is a new year that nole is suddenly going to become beatable when no-one except stan has beaten him in a slam this last year. (and i do think stan can win another slam – he’s the only player to have beaten nole in slams over both 2014 and 15 so he’s the biggest threat to nole in slams right now). nole’s dominance is only really threatened by rafa regaining form IMO – that was always the case in the past and i don’t see much different now. i don’t want to make any predictions about rafa (am very superstitious about jinxing for one thing). don’t see the younger generation threatening or doing much.

    • amy,

      I am trying to have a kind of middle ground when it comes to predicting what Novak will do in 2016. I do not see him dominating the way he did this year. But I did pick him to win 2 slams. That doesn’t mean I will be right, but it’s what I think at this time. Of course, I want Rafa to be the one winning slams next year. Absolutely! I do think he’s going to come back and be competitive. He will have his sights set on RG for sure.

      However, I think you are correct in saying that you don’t see Novak suddenly becoming beatable. We know that Fed can’t beat him in a slam final because he tried two times this year. Stan is the one who is a real threat, but he will have to be at his very best to do it.

      When it’s all said and done, Rafa is the one who can challenge Novak. All I can do is hope and be positive about Rafa’s prospects for 2016!

      Nice to see you posting again! I always enjoy reading your thoughts! 🙂

      • nny, sorry i answered below but somehow missed this post.
        yes rafa has always been nole’s biggest rival and he’s probably the only player who can really take down nole (ie not on a one off basis). but i am too nervous after this last year to make predictions. i was watching the 2012 AO final the week before last and really got depressed comparing the fight that rafa put up in the fourth set with his current play. he looks so slow now by comparison. all year i have been seeing these problems as down to nerves but i got quite worried thinking maybe i am fooling myself and he is in physical decline. what do you think?
        i don’t see nole suddenly losing matches unless he really starts to burn out. he’s much more mentally stable than before and becker has actually helped him!(who would have predicted that one would work!) i don’t have much faith in the field and only see stan as a threat to him in the big matches.
        always great to talk with you! miss you!

  6. For all those predicting with surity that Novak will win multiple slams next year, just recollect

    How many slams did Rafa win in 2011 after a super successful 2010?
    How many slams did Novak win in 2012 after a super successful 2011?

    • Sanju,

      I am not predicting anything with surety. I am not a psychic and can’t foretell the future. I am merely giving my thoughts and my sense of what could happen in 2016. I do not presume to know for sure how many slams Novak will win, but I don’t see him suddenly disappearing or anything like that.

  7. I don’t see anyone dethroning novak for two years. After that, Father time will defeat him. He could win two-three again and possibly RG this year. How old was agassi when he won RG?

  8. Chances of Djoko dominating next year? Low, I think. Maybe there will be some surprise slam winners. Only a Djoko fan like amy can expect Djoko to repeat simply because he dominated this year. As per this faulty (wishful?) reasoning, Djoko should have dominated forever from 2011. Or because we are alive one second we can never die as nothing can change in the next second!!! Like Zeno’s paradox!!!

  9. Twenty16,

    I fear that your reasoning may be faulty. It’s true that Novak didn’t dominate after 2011. I never thought he would. I was confident that Rafa would find the answers and get the better of him again. That’s what happened. However, Novak didn’t dominate in 2011 in quite the way he did in 2015. I mean that he came within one match of winning the calendar grand slam, in losing the RG final to Stan. That’s about as close as you can get.

    I am not here to speak for amy. She is more than capable of speaking for herself. I can only express my thoughts as a Rafa fan who believes that he will come back strong in 2016. He’s the one who can take on Novak. He’s proven that many times in slams. But I am not going to say that Novak won’t win a slam next year or completely disappear. That’s just not being realistic as far as I am concerned. He’s only been working harder and getting better and better in all aspects of his game. He is still in his prime, so that’s why I believe he will still win slams next year. I don’t know for sure if it will be 1 or 2 or 3, but I predicted 2 slams. We will have to see how it all plays out.

    • Nativenewyorker, simply stating somebody’s reasoning is faulty doesn’t make it so. I proved amy’s reasoning is faulty. You did not prove mine is faulty.In case you did not understand why amy’s reasoning was faulty, I made a reference to Zeno’s paradox.
      I agree amy is capable of speaking for herself and probably speaking for all Djoko fans. She is quite forceful but that doesn’t make her arguments more sensible. In any case I don’t know why you should speak for a Djoko fan who described Rafa as ” a piece of meat”?
      Stop trying to support or oppose other posters without understanding the logic because you may end up vilifying Rafa. Please present your own arguments.

      • Twenty16,

        I don’t care about Zeno’s paradox! I made my argument as to why I think Novak will not just disappear. You apparently didn’t understand it. So I really have nothing more to say, since I don’t have to prove or disprove anything to you.

        You asked why I should speak for a Djoko fan who described Rafa as “a piece of meat”? I already said I wasn’t speaking for her, so you just contradicted yourself. I don’t recall her ever saying that either.

        Sorry, but you do not get to tell me or anyone else here what I can or cannot say on this site. It appears to me you are intent on making something out of nothing merely because I did not agree with you.

        I don’t need your advice on presenting my own arguments. Focus on presenting real arguments and not contradicting yourself and then things will be okay.

        I don’t normally continue to respond to someone who is not discussing in good faith.

        • nny, well said. i have never ever said that about rafa and this whole business of being a djoko fan is the usual silliness. for the record, i am not a fan of anyone!! my favourite player is rafa and then second favourite is nole but the minute i start being a fan i stop watching tennis. i am perfectly well aware that players often dont follow up on a dominant year but the field has been so weak that it seems possible that nole could dominate again (although probably not to the same extent). as i said, i hope he doesn’t as i want to see rafa winning slams.

          • amy (AT 3:09 PM),
            —the minute i start being a fan i stop watching tennis—
            ===
            .
            You can do whatever you want, but professional sports cannot exist without fans (spectators in the stadiums, TV audience, viewers who watch tournaments online and so on). The money has to come from somewhere!

          • amy,

            I am glad that you spoke up for yourself. I merely stated that you never said what you were quoted as saying. I just don’t get why anyone has to be labeled on this site as fan of this one or that. I know you to be a Rafa fan, but someone who also likes Novak. As I have said many times before, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! I think one can appreciate Rafa’s rivals.

            I am with you all the way in hoping that Rafa will be back strong in 2016 and winning slams! I do not see Novak dominating and have said as much. Whether he can win 3 again or only 2 or 1, I really don’t care. I would much rather see Rafa biting trophies again!

        • nny, on a personal note, i really hope you are feeling better…i have been thinking about you although very rarely posting here.
          chloro and i have been emailing each other for months so if i want to talk about rafa then i can do it through email with him which is frankly a lot more civilised and fun than talking on this site.
          i am sure that like me, he really hopes you are getting better…

            • hey hawks how are you?! are you in quarantine again?
              chloro and i talk loads through email but not much about tennis…
              just emailed him about how frightened i am getting over the rise of trump. chloro said he read a joke that day that trump was the comments section made human….

          • amy,

            I would love to be on your email list! Then I could tell you what’s going on. I do communicate with vamosrafa via email. I did post here last week that I had some minor surgery. It was related to my lumbar spine. That’s all I want to say publicly here because it’s not tennis related.

            Thanks so much for your concern. It’s been tough but finally getting better. It’s good to know that you and chloro are chatting via email. I haven’t been posting here as much, but that’s because there isn’t any tennis to talk about. I agree that one can have some great conversations via email because there’s no fear of being attacked or having your words twisted!

            Can we work this out somehow?

            • nny, sure. can you write to ricky saying we have agreed to email each other and for him to send the addresses? or maybe if he sees this here he could do it anyway? or I will write to him if you want…as you will??
              one word of caution is that I have a nightmare with my email and lost several replies to chloro today so only sent him one line…because if I lose the connection I lose everything whereas if I post online I can lose the connection regain it and not lose the post…so that’s a bit of an obstacle..
              let me know what you want to do regarding writing to ricky…speak soon!!!

          • amy DECEMBER 15, 2015 AT 3:18 PM
            “…which is frankly a lot more civilised and fun than talking on this site…”
            Agreed. It was getting pretty savage with chloro continually harassing augusta with a three letter word beginning with “b” and progressing to greater savagery when he alleged that she was suffering from asper..rs.
            Not sure about fun though. I think chloro was having a lot of fun on this site till Ricky started moderating the 3 letter word.

            • It would be such a relief to keep the constant Rafa detraction away from this forum. What a relief! At least they will all be on the same page as far as that goes.

  10. My take in 2016

    Nole – 1 RU, 2 Semis, 1 QF
    Nadal – 2 slams, 1 semi, 1 4R
    Murray – 1 Slam, 2 semi, 1 RU
    Federer – 1 RU

    Non Top4 – 1 Slam

  11. Thangs, I wish your prediction would come true but while I expect things to be different in 2016,it seems difficult to forecast Djoko will win zero slams. He is one year younger than Rafa, has a perfect body with few injuries, is extremely ambitious and determined to do what it takes to be the GOAT. He has made no secret of it and his family has been waiting for him to displace Fed ever since I can remember. The infamous “The king is dead, long live the king” of 2008 comes to mind.
    Zero slams is the result I would most love to see for Djoko in 2016 as most of the Djoko fans have already written off Rafa and his 14 slams. They are only wondering whether Djoko will surpass Fed or not.

  12. I have enjoyed reading the above but most of what people feel will happen is based on what happened this year and frankly that’s just second guessing. I remember many saying Rafa would dominate 2011 after his successful season in 2010 then Djoker came out of nowhere and dominated 2011. I’m surprised that no one has picked Murray to dominate 2016 like Djoker did after winning the DC in 2010 ?

    @ Ricky – I don’t think Delpo will have the luxury to pick and choose which tournaments he plays or doesn’t play when he returns. He’ll be way down the rankings and will qualify to enter tournaments according to his ranking at the time of his injury and he will be penalised for not playing – I think that lasts for about 9 months. He is currently ranked #590 so if his ranking doesn’t improve in the 9 months he will have to play qualifying rounds or rely on WCs to enter tournaments.

  13. There is no reason to think that Nole won’t dominate again this season. In 2011 he burned out big time after the Open. This year he never slowed one iota. Plus Fedal is done and Murray is simply not as good. Unfortunately none of the younger players have stepped up. In fact many of them regressed this year. It’s Nole’s season again this year until somebody steps up.

  14. Anybody care to listen to Fed?

    Speaking to India Today, 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer said: “Rafa seems to be back in a big way. He’s doing great. I think he will be very strong next year and will be very hard to beat.”

    Federer, who ended his three-year drought of a win over Nadal with a three-set conquest in Basil this year, envisaged his traditional rival to pull off “one or two” majors in the upcoming season.

    “I had a wonderful final against him in Basel. Perhaps, he will be able to get one or two Grand Slams next year,” added the Swiss.

    • Sanju (1:25 PM),
      —1) Anybody care to listen to Fed?—
      —2) Federer, who ended his three-year drought of a win over Nadal with a three-set conquest in Basil this year—
      ===
      .

      1) Nope!
      2) Fed lost 3 days ago.

      • I thought Fed was being complimentary to Rafa. What is the issue? If he says Rafa can win upto 2 slams, how is that bad?

        It is true he ended his drought by beating Rafa in basel. It does not matter he lost in IPTL.

        • I think Fed is being genuine after their match in New Delhi when Rafa played really well against him. Fed is not known for being diplomatic or not saying what he thinks.

          • I am beginning to like Fed more and more! He is certainly much better than Djoker or Stan! Though I like Stan too for having deprived Djoker of a calendar slam.

            • Mary, I agree. Fed has got over his h2h with Rafa because it hasn’t had any impact on his status and he also loves the Fedal rivalry plus Rafa shows Fed respect and doesn’t rub their h2h in his face. Rafa also acknowledges Fed’s achievements.

              On the other hand, other top players do not show the same respect for their rivals.

        • Fed only cares about himself. What he says about Rafa is irrelevant. His words aren’t going to determine how many slams Rafa wins in 2016. We will have to wait and see how Rafa looks when he starts playing in the new year.

    • It’s never worked when Fed tried to play any mind games with Rafa. Rafa doesn’t pay any mind to that.

    • Hardly; Fed knows Rafa better than that; he knows that Rafa does things in his own way and is not affected by what anyone thinks or says about his prospects.

  15. In fact he is better at playing mind games than playing tennis these days. Deep down he is dreading that Rafa will break his record.

      • Remember his comments about no Brit winning a major b4 he played Andy in 2010? It worked too. It is well known that Roger tries to twist his words to put pressure on his opponents. Not to mention his back handed compliments. Rafa by contrast tries to deflect pressure from himself by downplaying his chances or saying he is 1 of the favorites.

        • Oh haha yeah you’re right about some of those backhanded compliments like when he lost to Murray at Olympics lol that was hilarious. But yeah I see what you’re saying but I definitely wouldn’t say he is better at mind games than tennis. I mean he’s number three in the world. Not too shabby for a 34 year old. And it’s not like people think of Roger as someone who makes backhanded compliments. They think of him as a great tennis player.

  16. 1) Yes but not like last year. Rafa will be back and rising stars coupled with pressure from Roger and Andy should allow less dominance from the world number one.
    2) I’m really torn on this one. I get the feeling that last year with beating Rafa and all was his chance and being robbed of it by Stan could either motivate him or prove to be his last chance at victory in Paris. I’m thinking Rafa wins it next year, but I do see Novak winning it some time in the future.
    3) Highly doubtful he wins every slam especially with Rafa at the French.
    4) I’m unsure on this one because Rafa on clay should be able to give him push to world number two, but fed can make up some at the Australian open after losing early last year. I don’t see Murray finishing higher than both because I still don’t think Murray has the greatest mental stability at times compared to the other big 4 at least and I don’t think he has enough weapons to beat anyone in big 4 right now on a consistent basis at least. So of course I want to go with my guy Roger but I don’t know on this one. Rafa and his grass woes and his unsure state on hard courts leans me toward Roger but Rafa on clay leans me toward Rafa. To be honest I think Rafa being ranked only five could result in some bad draws like getting Novak in quarters at clay events which would result in Roger staying on top imo that is unless Roger has a horrible year of course which I don’t see happening with his recent form over last few seasons and even switching up his coach to show motivation. Also ljubicic has beaten Novak in the past so he could have some good tips for Roger. So I’ll go with Roger finishing at two barely ahead of number three Rafa and Murray just behind at four maybe five if stanimal can rack up another GS title. I’ll post 5-10 in other comment cuz this one is so long already.

  17. 5) JMDP is one of my favorite players. I think his attitude is great and his game is so exciting to watch with his forehand and all. A comeback to top 50 would be awesome. I can see it happening but at same time it’s not necessarily super likely. I will say though del po with his skill level could make huge resurgence like he has in the past. It’s not like he is 30 now I mean he’s not young anymore so that still pisses me off how unlucky this guy is. If he does come back I say he comes back strong and ends the year somewhere around 50 or 60.
    6) I say NK just because he has more tools and a higher ceiling like you said and socks backhand is better now but still limits him imo. Plus he does have big serve but doesn’t have as efficient as kyrgios imo. Nicks attitude seems way better lately so I see him having a good year next year possibly a spot for the top 10, which isn’t too far-fetched imo.
    7) This is a tough one for me. I want to say yes but I’m not sure. Two guys outside big four won in 2014 and one did last year. I have a feeling Stan will make final somewhere. To be specific I guess I’ll go with a different one this year. U.S. Open. I’m thinking he reaches final and plays one of big four. Whether he wins I don’t know. It’s too early to tell whether Stan will be in good form heading in so this is just kind of going out on a limb. Anyways I’ll go bold and say Stan the man takes the U.S. Open or at least another slam next year.
    8) I’ll go somewhat bold and say NK to replace ferrer or berdych more likely ferrer. And maybe Nishikori due to all his injury problems that could hold him back and give someone like Isner or Anderson a chance. I want to say Isner but I think Anderson with better ground game would be my next pick to replace Nishikori. Isner could very well qualify if he stays healthy and consistent though.
    9) I’m gonna go with seven: Big John, J-Sizzle, Querrey, Johnson, DY(maybe not though) and two young guns perhaps fritz and tiafoe or maybe replace one with Donaldson or kudla.
    10) Goffin is simply the most consistent so I’ll pick him but all of them could do well. Thiem has lots of skill and promise and Paire is such a talent and Tomic seems less erratic as of late. I’ll take Goffin but I have a feeling this safer pick could definitely be the wrong pick. Sorry this one is even longer lol.

    • I get your point, but it’s not going to sit well with some. I think he’s going to be the obvious favorite at the AO, but I am not as sure about Wimbledon. I am thinking that Murray will come out playing well in 2016. He looked much better in 2015 and there’s no reason to think he’s not going to continue in the new year.

      • It’s not about Muzz.
        The level of play Nole has showed at the past 2 finals at Wimbledon, only Roger when having his best FH day can stand up and beat him.

        Muzz doesn’t even have Roger’s serve to make it that competitive.
        More than that, I’m not really convinced if Murray will get past Federer if the 2 play again at Wimbledon.I feel Muzz played his best at Wimbledon in 2012 yet he ended up short against Roger.
        He may have won the title in 2013, but his level of play in 2012 was the best he has put on display.

            • No, it was higher in the Olympic games. Certainly. Don’t tell me you think federer got dominated in 3 sets 6-2 6-1 6-4 just because he was tired! Do you realize how dominant this scoreline is on a grass court ? Esp against someone who serves as well as federer?

              Still remember Murray being unplayable in the second set especially. His backhand was something else that day.

    • Except Stanimal more likely in Melbourne and Roger more likely at wimby if he stops playing amazing all tournament then serving at his worst of the tournament in the final because of fatigue. I would actually rather have fed play nole in semis next year so he isn’t tired and serving worse. I mean he was nowhere near the way he played against muzz in the SF when he stepped on the court for the title match against Novak this year.

  18. vamosrafa,

    Thanks for joining the discussion. However, I did want to let abhirf know that I didn’t mean it to sound like I only think Murray has a shot to beat Novak. I know it came out that way, but all I was trying to say is that I do think there will be competition for Novak in 2016.

    I think vamosrafa makes a good point in bringing up the 2012 Olympics. Nobody blows Fed off the court on grass unless they are playing some great tennis. I guess what I am saying, is that Murray has the capability to play well enough to challenge Novak. He’s done it in the past. I guess your sense would be that Novak is at another level now. But I still think Murray has a chance against him.

    Stan could have a shot at Novak at the AO, but that depends on how the draw shakes out. We know that Stan has the game to beat Novak in slams. As I said, Novak is the obvious fsvorite going into the AO, but I think there are some others who may have a chance.

    As far as Wimbledon, I can’t see Fed taking out Novak again in a final. Murray could do it. We also aren’t talking about Rafa at all because we don’t know yet how he will look in 2016. I am not sure that Rafa can do it at the AO. He will still be #5 and that could mean meeting Novak in the quarterfinals. He may just not be ready that soon. But I expect Rafa to be there in the clay season. He hasn’t been able to do well at Wimbledon, but you just never know. We will have to wait and see.

    • A red hot Murray would stand a better chance to beat Novak at Wimbledon. Federer has had his chances for two years in a row now. He could not beat Novak and this year’s win was kind of comprehensive for Novak.

      Problem for fed is he cannot seem to hang with Novak over 4-5 sets. He has always had the same issues against Rafa. Unless federer overcomes that issue somehow, he will lose again.

      @NNY, yes, stan has the game to take it to Novak at the AO but as you said, we have no idea how the draws will pan out. I hope they draw stan in novak’s qtr. Lol

      • @vamosrafa – as I said before, his game level was the same at olympics as it was at Wimbledon. Muzza played great in Wimby Final but couldn’t win.Fed was really dialled in that Final.

        Fed’s performance in that Olympic final was a forgetful one to say the least. Never seen him play that nervously in any match in his career. He was hardly middling one shot out of 10 that day.
        Murray played great, but nothing really to suggest that he played better than Wimbledon.

        • I know a lot of casual tennis fans who are convinced that Fed tanked the Olympic final so that Murray would win it in front of his home crowd. They will not accept that Fed badly wants an Olympic Singles Gold, that Fed will not tank a final and definitely not for Murray, even if in an alternate world he did consider tanking a match.

        • Suffice to say, I do not agree with the contention that Fed didn’t play well against Murray in the Olympic final. Fed wanted to win an Olympic gold medal in singles because it’s missing from his resume. There is no way he would just come out and play mediocre tennis to hand Murray the gold medal. I guess it’s convenient to forget just how well Murray was playing at that time.

  19. I was hoping Murray to stop Nole in AO 2016. But, with his baby arrival, Murray can not concentrate. Murray is not that strong mentally to focus on multiple things. He easily gives up and justifies himself that losing is Ok.

  20. Well, one can hope. I am hoping Muzz will come out with a statement before AO that his impending fatherhood is inspiring him and he wants to present the AO slam cup ( Norman Brookes) to Kim as his tribute to her approaching motherhood. Hope the newspapers bore us with all such statements like they did with Djoker and his fatherhood.

    • Thank goodness Muzz doesn’t go in for contrived ‘sound bite’ comments like Djokovic. Mind you, the commies are the worst culprits. To a man they regurgitated the fact ad infinitum that Nole was playing in his first tournament since becoming a father. What Andy has said is he is prepared to withdraw from the AO to be there for Kim should the baby be premature.

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