In professional tennis, 2017 was a year of great unpredictability, but also the year of two great comebacks. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer raced to the ATP number 1 spot and won 2 Grand Slams each. Both showed us what true champions are made of and why there’s nothing indisputable in tennis. It is incredible how one can stay hungry after 17 Grand Slam titles and having basically already been proclaimed the GOAT, like Federer. Or find the motivation to return from serious injuries for a 10th Roland Garros title and the ATP top spot, like Nadal. Following the trend set by those two last year, 2018 seems destined to have its own comeback stories.
2017 not only revived the Fedal rivalry, satisfying the dreams of tennis fans all over the world. It also allowed for new talent to shine and start questioning the men’s tennis status quo. Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, Dominique Thiem, David Goffin and Denis Shapovalov are some of the players that had a chance to rise. A chance that might not have been given so generously, if half the men’s top 10 wasn’t struggling with injuries throughout the season. Similarly, Serena’s absence from the women’s tennis in 2017 marked one of the most exciting seasons in the WTA. Garbine Muguruza established herself as a Grand Slam champion for the second time. Yelena Ostapenko and Sloane Stephens managed to win a Grand Slam each, coming out of nowhere. And Simona Halep finished the year as the WTA world number 1.
So what does 2018 have in store for the top tennis rankings, as elite players will be returning to their usual level? Hard to tell. But, starting with the 2018 Australian Open, we should be able to enjoy another exciting season, full of intense rivalries and great tennis.
The comebacks we’re waiting for in the 2018 Australian Open
The 2018 Australian Open is probably among the most anticipated tennis events of the recent years, as several top players will be making their reappearance, after missing big parts of last season. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka are the most notable comebacks on the Australian Open 2018 entry list. On the women’s side, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka stand out, in terms of the most anticipated comebacks in the 2018 Australian Open. Azarenka has asked for a wild card, while Serena’s name has appeared on the event’s entry list, although both participations haven’t been confirmed.
Most of the returning pros will start warming up in events prior to Melbourne, giving us a glimpse on how ready they are. Before any of that happens, let’s have a look at the most interesting potential comeback stories.
ATP 2018 Australian Open comebacks
All the top pros have been included in the entry list of the 2018 Australian Open tournament. However, as we approach the 15th of January, when the event is set to begin, several players are pulling out of events leading up to the Grand Slam. Andy Murray was set to kick start his 2018 campaign at the Brisbane International, but his plans seem to have been cancelled as his hip injury persists. The same goes for Kei Nishikori, who’s just pulled out of Brisbane with a recurring wrist injury.
Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic have pulled out of the Abu Dhabi season opener, but are still looking to make their comeback in Melbourne. The most anticipated return though, that of Novak Djokovic, doesn’t seem to be at risk at all. The Serbian has built a very strong team by adding recently retired Radek Stepanek and looks ready to reclaim his former glory. It will be interesting do see how he handles his return and what room Djokovic and Federer will give to the new blood to shine down under.
WTA 2018 Australian Open comebacks
Serena Williams only gave birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia last September, but is set to compete in the first Grand Slam of 2018. The doubts surrounding her participation were lifted for the most part when she announced a deal to promote a local hotel chain, during her stay in Melbourne. After winning the trophy last year while pregnant, Serena seems eager to take on a new challenge. Pulling off a back to back win, just a few months after her daughter was born. If anyone can do that it is this lady.
Victoria Azarenka has pulled out of the ASB classic in Auckland, but has been awarded a wild card at the AO main draw. Azarenka missed most of the last season because of her ongoing custody battle. Although her participation is still in doubt, the tennis world is looking forward to the revival of her rivalry against Serena and Sharapova, after a long time of absense. If 2017 was that unpredictable for women’s tennis, we can sure hope the tennis world will be set on fire in 2018!