A new Tennis Season is about to begin!
We at BetzCenter, together with you, are ready to get excited for what could be one of the most interesting seasons of the last years.
We said goodbye to a year, 2017, which was full of tennis events and that, as usual, ended with the much hated off-season: from Djokovic’s and Murray’s crisis to Federer’s and Nadal’s big comebacks. While WTA was once again characterized by players’ discontinuity that lead to several changes at the top of the rankings. It was the year of Serena Williams’ maternity, the year of Maria Sharapova’s comeback (she was suspended for doping), the year of Viktoria Azarenka’s maternity and Venus Williams’ newfound youth and the year where that number one position in the rankings has belonged to many, maybe too many, players. The girls’ crown was first conquered by Karolina Pliskova at the beginning of the season and then belonged to Garbine Muguruza (who won Wimbledon 2017) to end up being in the hands of Simona Halep at the very end of the season. 2018 is about to begin and we are not short of unknowns, both in the ATP and WTA: whether it’s the physical form, injuries or keeping up with expectations. As usual, while we are waiting for the action, there has been a lot of talking, maybe too much: from Wawrinka’s return after parting with his coach, to Kei Nishikori’s forfeit and Rafael Nadal’s return (he is still struggling with his right knee as he had to skip a planned training session with Portuguese player Joao Sousa). Nadal also withdrew from Brisbane (his spot in the draw will be taken by number 76 in the world, Australian player Matthew Ebden) and from the exhibition planned for the 8th of January at Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney “Fast 4 Tennis”.
I will be seeing my Aussie fans when I land on the 4th in Melbourne and start there my preparation for the Australian Open.
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) December 27, 2017
There are rumors on a possible injury for Andy Murray, the press has gone crazy over the news of a cancelled flight to Brisbane (his debuting tourney of the season) and there is now a big question mark on his form and the possibility of not playing a main role in the first slam of the season. The current number 16 in the world jokes about it in a tweet:
Everyone very skeptical on my chances?
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) December 27, 2017
The doubts still remain as, as soon as we talk about the Scottsman, we can’t help but think of that right hip surgery that lies upon him. The only thing that we know for sure today is that preseason training is coming to an end and we will soon see the big names take the court! Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were among the first to begin their preparation: the Swissman, after an intense month in Dubai and after beginning his gym routine, will start his season at the Hopman Cup, scheduled for December the 30th till January the 6th, but we still don’t know his later calendar. Nole, together with his family (his newborn baby Tara as well) and his coach Radek Stepanek, began training in Monaco’s main sport facility, Stade Louis II. For all Djokovic’s fans, we remind you that after the birth of his first child Stefan, Novak played his best season, in 2015 (11 tournaments won, including 3 were slams, for a total of 82 wins and 6 losses only). Three years after his other epic season in 2011 (10 trophies, including 3 slams for a total of 70 wins and 6 losses only). Coincidences? Who knows… The latest word about him is that he withdrew from his match scheduled for the 29th of December at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi: Nole has decided to withdraw as suggested by his medical staff because of his right elbow which still hurts and still needs healing. It looks like to know more about Djokovic, we will have to wait a bit longer…
I am terribly disappointed that I am forced to withdraw from the Mubadala World Tennis Classic. Thank you all for your support ? https://t.co/2ZhtrADXzl
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) December 29, 2017
In the same facility in Monaco, Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev are training as well. The Bulgarian, who won the London ATP finals last year at 26 years old, has finally found his identity and he has now let the court speak for himself, without being distracting by the rest (he has put that playboy lifestyle and that very heavy comparison with Roger Federer, started with his junior Wimbledon title in 2008, behind his shoulders); in his own words: “I think the comparisons and all this, they don’t really matter any more – I’m not baby Fed anymore”. Will his one-handed backhand and his flamboyant play prove to be too much for his opponents? Alexander Zverev is about to begin a season where he is asked to confirm his results and be a consistant top player: many think he will be able to do this, while ex German top player Boris Becker, when asked about his possible heir, seems more cautious: “Alexander Zverev will not be world number one very soon. For Zverev, last year has been a great turning point. The second year is tough as he needs to stay at that level. He still has room for improvement and time is on his side.”. In the WTA tour, the only forfeit should be Viktoria Azarenka’s. Azarenka is still struggling trying to sort the situation with her ex-partner and their child Leo. Things are getting more and more heated between herself and Billy McKeague (ex-husband), who does not want her to see their son again resulting in Azarenka being forced to stay in the United States till the court makes a decision on the case. Vika will miss Auckland, with Sara Errani, number 132 in the world, taking her spot, thanks to a wild card granted to the Italian by the tournament director, Karl Budge. Errani is still involved in an unclear doping case; so unclear that she is still waiting for a decision from TAS on a possible two-month suspension after an unintentional use of letrozole; in the meantime she is allowed to play by WTA. Regarding Azarenka, as for now, also her presence at the 2018 Australian Open is far from confirmed: Chris Wideman (NHL player of the Ottawa Senators and Leo’s godfather) tweeted this a couple of months ago:
Leo Azarenka’s godfather Chris Wideman calls Vika a criminal & accuses of her perjury on his Instagram account. Gotta feel for the kid in all of this, ugly stuff. pic.twitter.com/B664MLCMm4
— Paps (@DatGoneIt77) December 19, 2017
In his tweet he basically invites Azarenka’s fans to avoid buying tickets for the tournament as in that period the tennis player will be busy somewhere else: “Don’t buy your tickets to Australia yet because she won’t be playing. She’ll be in a courtroom in LA County. Just trying to keep fans and sponsors interested. She’ll be withdrawing with a sob story very soon”. Despite all of this, the organizers have explained to have reserved a spot till the very last minute for the two-time Australian Open Champion Azarenka. We can only wish best of luck to the player, born in 1989, while waiting for this sad situation to be sorted and hoping to see her back ready to conquer the wta tour one more time.
Sunday, the 31st of December, the 45th season in WTA history starts and we really don’t know what to expect. We know Coco Vandeweghe will play the Hopman Cup, while Venus Williams won’t play in any of the first tournaments of the 2018 season. Eight top ten players will be on court between Brisbane and Shenzhen, where Simona Halep is set to defend her number one ranking. Many players can have a good season this year: Caroline Wozniacki, Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina, Jelena Ostapenko and as said, world number one Simona Halep. The 27 years old Danish star, Caroline Wozniacki, was the first ever tennis player to defeat 3 different world number ones during last season as she won against Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep. She reached 8 finals and won the most important one at the end of the season in Singapore (WTA Finals). This year she will be looking to defeat her demons: win a slam; and if she manages to play like she did last season, the wait could soon be over in January. Another player that could win a slam this year is Spanish star Garbine Muguruza, who already won Wimbledon 2017, when she defeated Venus Williams in the final. Muguruza also won the tournament in Cincinnati climbing up the rankings to become world’s number one at the expenses of Simona Halep, who would gain the top spot back with a win in Beijing (vs Ostapenko). So, for an even better 2018, the Spanish player (born in 1993) will not only need her powerful forehand, but will also need to stay focused throughout the whole season. If she manages to do that, she clearly has the chance to get a lot of buzz. 2018 could also be the year of those players that were a surprise last year, for example Jelena Ostapenko and Elina Svitolina. The Ukrainian (Svitolina) hasn’t won a slam yet, while the Latvian won last year’s Roland Garros 2017. Jelena has personality and talent, but still has a lot to prove. We will see if, under the guide of her new coach David Taylor (former coach of Martina Hingis, Ana Ivanovic and Samantha Stosur), Ostapenko will manage to find consistency and avoid ups and downs. Elina Svitolina, coached by Justine Henin, is more experienced and seems ready for the big stages. After surprising us all posing half naked for a photo shoot for Ukrainian magazine “XXL”, we will see if she can surprise us once more in 2018.Beware of these two!
Simona Halep, current world number 1 in the world, will have many rivals, but for now, from what we have seen in the exhibition tournament of Hua Hin, which she won beating Karolina Pliskova in the final, things looks good to her. Simona does not have many points to defend (40) and could keep her crown till mid-May 2018, when she will need to defend the 1000 points she got in Madrid last year. It is surely too early to do these counts and draw conclusions, keeping in mind that this year will see the return of Serena Williams after an eleven month long “maternity leave” and that Maria Sharapova, just got back from her doping ban last year. They will both be ready to defeat their opponents and try to conquer the WTA crown.
It is now a matter of days to see the live action. On the 31st of December the season starts with the tournements of Brisbane (ATP and WTA) and Shenzen (WTA); then Doha, Pune (ATP) and Auckland (ATP and WTA) to then move to Sydney (ATP and WTA) plus Hobart (WTA). Always waiting for the 15th of January 2018, when we can already follow the first slam of the season: the Australian Open (Melbourne). Who will be the King and the Queen of 2018? We don’t know yet, but there is one thing we are sure about here at BetzCenter: From Australia to London we will live our passion for tennis together, sticking to our TVs and looking for the right information on our idols on or that remote challenger. We will challenge our friends on the court or in the best way possible: betting on all the matches! We are ready… and you?