Well, after yet another small break for the stars of the tennis world the 2012 season is already underway in Brisbane, Chennai, Doha and Auckland. Betting fans will most likely have their wagers set by now. But if you haven’t, LTN takes a look at what could (most likely, ML), yet probably won’t (least likely, LL), happen this year at each of the majors. Tennis is a hard sport to call, but it’s fun to try to anyway…
ML: Andy Murray to reach the final, and lose in straights:
It’s happened twice in a row hasn’t it? The Scot will be desperate to break his duck this year to silence his doubters and allay the fears of the British public about the ‘ghost of Fred Perry’. But will it happen in Melbourne? Djokovic, Nadal and Federer look to still be ahead of him in the performance stakes and the former has a lot to live up to, while the latter two want to put last year behind them.
LL: an Aussie to emerge victorious:
The Aussies have been waiting for a home-grown male singles champ since Mark Edmonson won his only Grand Slam title against John Newcombe in 1976, while one of their tennis queens hasn’t tasted victory since Chris O’Neil defeated America’s Betsy Nagelsen in 1978. Sam Stosur just never seems able to produce her best form in her home country, while Lleyton Hewitt is too far gone, and Bernard Tomic yet to develop enough to trouble the big guns.
ML: The French crowd to whinge at a whinger:
The crowds at the French Open each year have to be the best in world tennis. When they’re not sounding their own verbal trumpets they are booing or chastising somebody who has offended them. It must be the closest we can get to the crowds at the ancient Roman coliseums. The two Andy’s – Murray and Roddick – often fall foul of them with their tempers, while the ever stroppy Serena Williams is another whose newly-announced distaste for tennis could bring a thumbs down from Roland Garros.
LL: Gael Monfils or Jo-Willie to mount a serious title challenge:
Neither player ever seems capable of consistently performing to the standards that are required to last two weeks of tournament play and outfox the top seeds. Tsonga, in particular, shows the brilliance on occasion that always gives France hope, but other than Monfils’ semi in 2008 neither has had too much to shout about at Roland Garros.
ML: John McEnroe to gain 100+ hours of TV airtime:
Wimbledon has always been synonymous with rain, and 2011 was frankly the worst British weather in a calendar year I can ever remember. If this continues in to 2012, we won’t just need a roof over Centre Court, but London itself to get the Olympics finished on time. So, with his various TV deals including BBC in the UK, expect to see McEnroe repeatedly reminiscing about his playing days and video re-runs of Boris Becker and Pete Sampras’ best times in SW19.
LL: Three or more Brits to reach round two:
Andy Murray is one of the world’s best, while Heather Watson and Laura Robson look bright prospects in the women’s game, but other than that, what has Britain got to cheer? The country where tennis began has seen the rest of the world take over because they have ditched the pomp and ceremony and gone about developing superhuman machines who can last for five sets. The three named above could make round two, but don’t expect much luck from elsewhere.
ML: Serena to start a fight and retire:
Serena Williams has had a difficult 18 months, and who could blame her for feeling aggrieved, but after her recent announcement that she doesn’t really love tennis how much longer can she go on? Clijsters or Henin anyone? Kournikova? Seles? She has lasted longer than the lot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if her failure to overcome the young pretenders in New York sees her throw another on-court wobbly quickly followed by a retirement announcement.
LL: Andy Roddick to prove us wrong:
America, nay, the whole world has been hoping Andy Roddick could get another Slam, and after the heartbreaks suffered at Wimbledon it would be fantastic if he could get another US Open. But his health and form have been suspect the past two years and it seems much of the US limelight has passed to Mardy Fish and John Isner. This probably won’t change in 2012.