Looking Into Tennis' Crystal Ball for 2010
I'm pretty sure.
* Serena Williams. We might as well start with her. She's going to have the first big moment of the year. Booed at the Australian Open, where fans think she should have had some sort of real punishment for her U.S. Open f-bomb-laced threats, she gets a ratings rematch from heaven, facing Kim Clijsters in the finals. This time, Williams keeps her feet behind the baseline, her mouth shut and beats Clijsters to win the year's first major.
* Roger Federer beats Novak Djokovic and is hailed again as the greatest player of all time, unbeatable, the best by miles. By the end of the year, he will not be No. 1.
He loses the ranking the day after Wimbledon. Even if he wins the tournament.
* Ivo Karlovic makes tennis history, becoming the first player to hit an ace on every point he serves throughout an entire match. He loses in straight sets.
* James Blake bounces back, and is too classy to say "I told you so."
* Andy Roddick keeps tweeting, finds it harder to get over his loss to John Isner at the U.S. Open than his loss to Federer at Wimbledon. He doesn't win a major, but keeps playing well.
* Dubai officials try to keep out Shahar Peer again at the last minute because she's from Israel and because the WTA tour went ahead and played the event last year, anyway. This time, led by Venus Williams, the players do the right thing, show some spine and say they won't come, either. So Peer is let in.
* Early March: The media finally realize that Yanina Wickmayer's one-year doping ban -- despite never having missed a drug test or failed one -- has not actually been overturned. The judge allowed her to play until her appeal is heard in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. That's all.
* CAS then drops the ban, but WADA suggests a three-year ban. The WTA stands by WADA.
*Rafael Nadal starts rebuilding his confidence in the clay court season and wins the French Open, beating Federer. Justine Henin begins her domination of the tour by beating Clijsters in the French final.
* Computer goes haywire. Federer has a ton of points to defend from winning last year's French Open and Wimbledon. Nadal has hardly any. So Federer goes into Wimbledon No. 1, and Nadal No. 2. They face each other in the final again. Regardless of the outcome, because of the computer system and points-gained over last year, Nadal will move to No. 1.
* That's right: No. 1 might beat No. 2 in the biggest tournament, and the next day, No. 2 will become No. 1.
* In the end, it doesn't matter: Nadal wins Wimbledon.
* People start noticing that Venus Williams is moving slower, looking older. Questions pop up about retirement. She wins just one tournament all year.
* But it's the one on grass that starts with a W. She beats Henin in the final.
* The person who wrote me an e-mail calling me a racist for not picking Serena Williams as the female tennis player of the decade, realizes I picked Venus Williams.
* Richard Gasquet starts giving blood tests to women he kisses in bars.
* Sam Querrey stops sitting on glass tables to tie his shoes, gets into the top 15. John Isner gets into the top 20. American newcomer Ryan Harrison makes a mark.
* Maria Sharapova commits to her old serve, not the stupid new half-backswing thing that has been a fad. She is good again. Tennis needs her.
* With Sharapova playing well, women's tennis stops looking like JV plus the Williams sisters. Henin, Clijsters, Sharapova, plus rising Caroline Wozniacki, AND Serena and Venus. All the chokers move down one notch.
* Women look strong again.
* Has anyone seen Dinara Safina?
* Michelle Larcher de Brito lets out a grunt that lasts so long it distracts her on her next shot. She complains to the chair umpire.
* Melanie Oudin is no choker, but she's not ready yet. She has to move down, too. Spends most of the year ranked in the 40s.
* More computer games: In 2009, Williams won majors and didn't try the rest of the year. Safina won minors, but not majors. Now, Henin starts winning everything, including majors, and Williams doesn't have the luxury of not trying.
* The men's game is better than it has ever been.
* Wickmayer sneezes. WADA suggests two-year ban.
* Robin Soderling can beat anyone, anytime, except in the finals of majors. Djokovic contends for No. 1, but doesn't get there. Andy Murray still doesn't believe, thinks too much and can't allow himself to let 'er rip.
* Juan Martin del Potro defends the U.S. Open.
* In New York, the match that decides which woman is No. 1: Henin-Serena final. Henin wins easily.
* Year-end top five in order: Henin, S. Williams, Clijsters, Elena Dementieva, Wozniacki.
* Two more comebacks: Davenport, Capriati.
* Welcome to the elite: Marin Cilic.
* Year-end top five in order: Nadal, Federer, Del Potro, Djokovic, Murray.
* Jelena Jankovic gets it together again. Ana Ivanovic, only sort-of.
* Jimmy Arias, grab a mic.
* John McEnroe will compare everything to his day.
* The new cramping rules change nothing. Players can fake-cramp at more convenient times.
* Gambling will become a big issue again.
* The U.S. will lose in the first round of Davis Cup.
* I figure out which Bryan brother is which.
* Wickmayer moves into the top 10. WADA suggests three years in prison.
* Trying to work in a few extra events, the ATP tour's 2010 season runs past the start of the 2011 season-opener, making for the first negative-time off-season in sports history.
It's going to happen. All of it.
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