The 2016 ATP season came to a close last Sunday. In one of tennis’ more intense season finales, Andy Murray came out on top in his battle for world No. 1 against Novak Djokovic. 2016 saw a big shake-up in rankings, as well as some new young players that emerged on the scene. Here are five things that I took away from the 2016 season.
1) Andy Murray finally lived up to the hype. After years and years of living in Novak Djokovic’s shadow, 2016 ended with Murray finally rising above his longtime rival. In a winner take all match for the No. 1 ranking at the World Tour Finals, Murray was dominant in a 6-3 6-4 victory. It was by far the best year of Murray’s career, he went 78-9 and won 9 titles including another Wimbledon title. He also made it to the finals of both the Australian Open and French Open, losing to Novak Djokovic in both. After the French, Murray went on a tear, winning his next three tournaments and that momentum carried him all the way to No. 1. He is now the man to beat going into 2017.
2) Milos Raonic will be a top five player for years to come. Milos started the year as the 14th ranked player in the world. In 2016 his massive potential showed, and he climbed all the way to number three. Raonic made it to the semifinals in Australia and the finals of Wimbledon, and overall he played at a consistently high level throughout the year. Did I mention he’s only 25? Expect to see big things from Raonic in 2017.
3) Alexander Zverev is the next big thing. Zverev started the year ranked 134, 2016 was kind to the young German, he broke out and made it all the way to 20th in the world. He finished ranked 24th but considering he’s only 19 I think it’s fair to say we’ll be seeing the name Alexander Zverev for years to come.
4) 2017 will decide how much longer Roger Federer plays. Federer started 2016 where he left off in 2015, making it to the Australian semifinals losing to Novak Djokovic in four sets. Then his injury hit and he missed the French Open, breaking his consecutive major appearances streak at 65. That was followed by a good showing at Wimbledon where he lost a tight five-setter to Milos Raonic in the semifinals. He then made the decision to rehab his injury rather than play the rest of the season. In 2017 we’ll see if he made the right call. If Federer comes back playing like he did at Wimbledon, he’ll still be a major factor on tour. However, if Federer makes a return and he starts to look his age, it’ll be the end of his career. Either way, 2017 will make or break Roger Federer.
5) Novak Djokovic is slowing down. I’ve said this in my past articles, Novak Djokovic has been showing signs that he’s slipping. After the French Open in 2016, Djokovic’s season took a turn for the worst. He lost to Sam Querrey in the third round at Wimbledon, ending his consecutive quarterfinal streak, and it only got worse from there. Eventually, with a loss to Marin Cilic in Paris, he lost his No. 1 ranking. In the end, the six-time defending champion of the ATP World Tour Finals fell in straight sets in the finals to Andy Murray for the title of year-end No. 1. I’m not saying he’s completely done, I think he still has at least three or four more majors in him, but I do think his days of complete dominance over the tour are over. Something to look out for in 2017.