Now we’re into February and in the post-Australian Open glow, we have a better handle on what may be coming in the tennis year ahead.
So, in 2024, who’s going up, who’s going down, and who’s taking out the crowns?
Let’s take a look:
WHO’S GOING UP
It is not a bold statement to predict big things for Ben. Already a Grand Slam quarter-finalist and semi-finalist, he has reached a career-high of no.15 in the world. The 6’4 giant has the game, the attitude, and age on his side. At just 21 years old, it’s only a matter of time (with consistency and maturity) before he comfortably climbs into the Top 10.
Arthur is the highest-ranked teenager in the world. 2023 was a big year with his maiden title in Lyon and a climb of over 200 spots in the rankings. He currently sits at no.36 and with his explosive game, a deep slam run, and more consistency, a move to the Top 20 looks on the cards.
The 22-year-old Brit had an injury-plagued 2023. However, he sent a warning to other players with a strong end to the season and a terrific start to 2024. A fourth-round appearance at the US Open was followed by a final in Sofia in November and then another to start the year in Adelaide. At 6’4 he has the game and the power to go far this season.
A big year for Mirra is a no-brainer. At just 16 years old she has already achieved so much in a short time. After winning her first WTA match in April last year, Mirra has made the fourth round at two slams, including in Melbourne last month with a win over her idol Ons Jabeur. With nine wins at that level already, she can handle the big stage. With more tour time a Top 10 appearance is coming.
Still a teenager, Linda announced herself to the world by making the quarter-finals of the Australian Open last month. En route, she took out world no.1 Iga Swiatek as well as Mirra Andreeva. In 2023 she made two finals in Adelaide and Prague and looks destined to follow in the footsteps of the many Czech women at the top of the game before her.
WHO’S GOING DOWN?
This may be the year that Father Time catches up with many players, particularly on the men’s side. Former top 10 players like Richard Gasquet, Roberto Bautista-Agut, and Fabio Fognini have already dropped out of the Top 100 and it’s hard to see them rising again.
Bigger names like Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, and Gael Monfils all still show flashes of brilliance but the grind of the tour may finally start dragging them down.
And my apologies Rafa fans, Nadal will attempt the French but will either fall before the final and/or retire from the game. Maybe.
On the women’s side, some players who have been towards the top of the game seem to be struggling and may see a decline this year.
Maria Sakkari made two slam semi-finals in 2021 but hasn’t been beyond the fourth round since. She has won one match at the last four slams and seems to have lost her way. Dropping out of the top 10 (and further) looks likely.
Meanwhile, Ons Jabeur looks like a shadow of herself so far in 2024, could the two-time Wimbledon finalist be looking at a fall this year?
GRAND SLAM PREDICTIONS
Swiatek and Sabalenka will finally give the slam final we are looking for when they face each other. Iga’s strong clay court game should see her sneak over the line in an epic.
Alcaraz will find his swagger on his favourite surface and win his third slam. Djokovic will be runner-up and Rublev will break his quarter-final hoodoo with a semi-final appearance.
Sabalenka will dominate the tournament and defeat Coco Gauff in the final to claim her first Wimbledon title.
On the men’s side, this could be a tournament when former champions fall early and Jannik Sinner takes the crown. I can see a player like Stefanos Tsitsipas, Taylor Fritz, or dare I say Nick Kyrgios in the final.
Sabalenka will complete her dominant year and take out a win in New York. Coco will fall short of defending her crown with someone like Jessica Pegula making her way through to the final.
This feels primed for another Daniil Medvedev final appearance, but can he get over the line? I could see him facing an Alcaraz or a surprise finalist and perhaps getting the extra slam he deserves.
Not a slam, but it feels like with the calendar grand slam is out of reach for Novak in 2024, this could be his main goal.
He is desperate for an Olympic gold and when Novak has a point to prove (like in Australia 2023) he normally gets what he wants. He’ll beat a surprise finalist with Casper Ruud on clay bringing home silver for Norway.
Coco Gauff will repeat the achievement of Jennifer Capriati at the 92 Barcelona Olympics and win gold on clay for America. Ostapenko to grab a surprise silver.
So some bold and less-than-bold predictions for the year ahead. The only guarantee we have is there will be some surprises, some drama, and some bloody great tennis throughout the year.