The past year has not been a smooth ride for tennis players and enthusiasts alike. Keeping pace with the confusion going on in the world, the circuit too has seen its share of ups, downs and drama. Almost all bigger stars have been embroiled in some issue or the other, making 2016 quite eventful to say the least. From bans to withdrawals, this season has seen it all!
Here is a recap of some of the major events, in case you missed any…
1) The Sharapova Ban:
A press conference that surprised many and an announcement that left the world stunned, Maria Sharapova admitted in March to have tested positive for a drug called Meldonium. In a short but effective conference, she explained how she had been consuming the drug to treat a heart condition for the past 10 years and had been oblivious of the new change in rules. The drug which had been previously allowed, was banned from January 2016. Sharapova fought against her suspension and got it reduced to 15 months.
This created a lot of drama with some players coming out in support of Sharapova, while majority of them finding her guilty. It also brought to light many Russian athletes who were till then consuming Meldonium. The issue is now sorted and we shall see her back in action, just a few weeks short of this year’s French Open.
Moral: A suspension that gave her a lot of tension, will now ensure she pays attention!
2) No Roger, No Rafa:
An early retirement due to injury was not expected, certainly not from the sport’s two top stars- Federer and Nadal. The first signs came during the French Open when Federer withdrew from the tournament as he felt he had not fully recovered from his knee surgery and Nadal withdrew before his third round match due to an injury sustained during the tournament. Both players ended their seasons prematurely. But, that was enough for Nadal to win his 28th ATP 1000 title in Monte Carlo and a record-extending ninth Barcelona title. Nadal also went on to win the Olympic Gold medal in doubles along with Marc Lopez. Federer, on the other hand, did not manage to win a title this year, which is very unlike-Federer. He had a tremendous start to the year, reaching the finals at Brisbane and semi-finals at the Australian Open. And before he called it a day, he played two back-to-back epics at Wimbledon. He defeated Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals, having been match point down. He played an equally breathtaking match against Milos Raonic in the semi-finals, where he lost in five sets, which also dented his perfect semi-final record in Wimbledon. Well, right now Federer seems fit, rejuvenated and raring to go as his recent Periscope video showed, so here’s hoping he has a good 2017.
Moral: Age is no barrier. It is a limitation you put on your mind. These two however, refuse to age.
3) The Djokovic Meltdown:
Mount Djokovic who has been at the pinnacle of this sport for some time now, had quite an unexpected 2016. Unexpected not only for him but also for the entire fraternity given the way he had started off. This year saw a spill over of his form from 2015, and he started with a bang by winning both the Australian and French Open and completing the much-coveted Career Grand Slam. Everyone thought that Djokovic was going to pull off a Rod Laver, by winning all four Grand Slams in the same year. But as the Wimbledon championships came round, we saw an unsettled Djokovic, quite unlike what he was a few weeks back. ‘Private issues’, he claimed, were troubling him. This seemed to have affected him in the latter half of the year, where he managed to win just one title. And now that he has parted ways with Coach Boris Becker, all we can do is wait and watch to see what tricks he has up his sleeve.
Moral: Private issues were troubling Nole that prevented him from taking control.
4) Scottish boy does his country proud:
Always questioned, always doubted about his ability to reach the top, Andy Murray put all the speculations aside to grab the No.1 spot. He surprised many with his feat, by showing that he truly belonged to the tennis elite!
Murray did indeed stun us all. We always thought he could never get past Djokovic’s mighty ground strokes and dominating stand at the top of the table, but he proved us wrong. And proud we are of him. Not to mention that when Murray gets on his game, he can put any one to shame. Murray’s performance reminds me of the adage ‘better late than never’.
Moral: Never give up, because you never know when you might jump up!
5) Nick gets a Kick:
Nick Kyrgios can be quite an entertainer with his unwanted remarks both on and off the court. He always manages to grab headlines for reasons other than tennis. This year he got himself suspended for deliberately tanking a match and then giving a rather rude explanation for it. That was mighty daring of him! He was even asked to get therapy by the authorities. Hopefully, the fine and order for therapy will knock some sense into him, or else be prepared for another year of nonsense…
Moral: A lot the authorities will have to endure, if Nick does not mature!
6) Muguruza fails to keep up:
After stunning Serena Williams and the elite Parisian crowd by clinching her first French Open title, Garbine Muguruza was unable to keep pace with her huge achievement in the latter half of the year. She lost in the early rounds of Wimbledon, the Olympics and US Open. At the French Open she showed that not even the power of the mighty Williams could deter her and that she had learnt from her mistakes at the Wimbledon 2015 final. Here’s hoping Muguruza comes back a stronger player.
Moral: I have to prove my thunder, to show that I am no one-time wonder!
7) The rise of Kerber:
She could have easily been a motivation to Andy Murray, if not anyone else. Angelique Kerber had the best season of her career, winning two Grand Slam titles and an Olympic medal. She started the year by beating Serena Williams to win her first Grand Slam at the Australian Open. She lost in the first round of the French Open, but bounced back a month later to reach the Wimbledon finals, where she lost to Serena. At the Olympics, she was one of the favourites to win gold, however, she lost her gold match to Monica Puig and had to settle for silver. At the US Open, she beat Karolina Pliskova to win her second Grand Slam title and claim the No. 1 ranking.
Moral: You have to be fearless to be successful!
8) Comeback of the year:
No trophy is enough to appreciate what Juan Martin DelPotro has achieved this year. After been away from tennis for almost two years due to multiple wrist injuries, he played his first tournament in February. At Wimbledon, he defeated Stan Wawrinka in the second round, announcing his comeback to the world. At the Olympics, he defeated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the first round. He went on to beat Rafa Nadal in the semi-finals and win the silver medal after losing to Murray in the finals. He had won bronze at the London Olympics. But according to me, the highlight of his season was the Davis Cup Final, where he beat Marin Cilic in the fourth rubber, which was the most crucial match of the tie. Argentina went on to win their first Davis Cup title ever. It will be really interesting to see him rise through the rankings next season and give every winner a run for his money.
Moral: Those who belong at the top, never forget their way back.
Well, I guess that’s enough for one year at least! Let’s all hope 2017 does not turn out to be as crazy as 2016. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year in advance!