Monday January 4th, 2016

Welcome back, everyone. The year is only a few days old and we’re already less than two weeks from the first major of the year. (Marketing slogan: Tennis, the sport with no clock and a crazy calendar.) With a nod to Nick Kristof, let’s start with a game of predictions. We can revisit in 11 months and see how we did.

At the end of 2016, the top-ranked WTA player will be:

a) A defiantly strong Serena Williams
b) Garbine Muguruza, the sport’s unmistakable new star
c) Petra Kvitova, whose lefty sorcery is finally married with competitive resolve
d) Venus Williams, who continues to defy time
e) Other

10 biggest moments of 2015, plus five questions ahead of 2016 season

At the end of 2016, the top-ranked ATP player will be:

a) A thoroughly dominant Novak Djokovic
b) Roger Federer, whose remarkable longevity threatens to be his ultimate top-line career achievement
c) Andy Murray, buoyed by fatherhood (and a secret to getting some decent sleep on the road)
d) A resurgent Rafa Nadal
e) Other

Having come within a match of winning THE Grand Slam in 2015, Novak Djokovic will:

a) Run the proverbial table in 2016—including the French Open for the first time—thereby giving voice to claims that he is the GOAT
b) Replicate his 2015, winning three majors but faltering in Paris, a city that haunts him as it did Emile Zola
c) Win two majors
d) Regress as he did in 2012, a combination of fatigue, injury, the distraction of fatherhood and an improved field threatening his dominance

Roger Federer will:

a) Thrive under new coach Ivan Ljubicic, continuing his mockery of time and winning that elusive 18th major.
b) Lose some consistency—looking thoroughly majestic at times and thoroughly mortal at other times—but still finish in the top five.
c) Misplace his mojo and announce his retirement at year’s end at which point he will be knighted, sainted and asked to serve on the council of foreign relations
d) Win a gold in mixed doubles with Martina Hingis

Nick Kyrgios will:

From the Players' Box with Victoria Azarenka: My offseason training

a) Put his tumultuous 2015 behind him and begin fulfilling his potential, all the while remaining a colorful figure
b) Weary of tennis and use his endorsement earnings to have a “gap year” during which he follows the Golden State Warriors, Grateful Dead-style
c) Weary of tennis and begin taking improv comedy classes that encourage students to “say the first thing that comes into your head”
d) Continue his ascent in the rankings but begin speaking in IMG-issued scripted talking points
e) Win the Australian Open, the first homegrown victor in 40 years

Tennis at the 2016 the Summer Olympics will:

a) Take on the dimensions of a fifth Slam
b) Splatter the summer circuit and muddle an already chaotic calendar, leading to calls that the Olympics need tennis more than tennis needs the Olympics.
c) See multiple top players announce their retirements
d) Feature dazzling television coverage, both play-by-play in the booth and in the studio
e) Trigger a drinking game, whereby viewers must swig a mojito for every cutaway of a smiling Gustavo Kuerten

Davis Cup will:

Attorney: Miami Open all but certain to leave Key Biscayne

a) Continue its sad slow fade into irrelevance, all the more so in 2016 when the Olympics are the ultimate team competition
b) Feature strikingly few top players now that the ITF extortion policy of making players compete in Davis and Fed Cup in order to gain Olympic eligibility is moot
c) Be the subject of meaningful format-change discussion under the ITF’s new leader, Dave Haggerty
d) Be won again by a country other than Great Britain leading to moans about “an intolerable drought” and the lamentable state of British tennis

The Miami Open will announce plans that:

a) It will relocate overseas
b) It will relocate to Orlando, subsidized by Larry Ellison who is happy to engage in a tournament amenity arm’s race with himself
c) It will relocate to Donald Trump’s tennis complex Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach
d) It will remain on Key Biscayne when a compromise is reached with local environmentalist/activists who agree to permit development in exchange for IMG/Williams Morris talent representation

A rousing comeback story will be staged by:

From the Players' Box with Victoria Azarenka: My offseason training

a) Brian Baker
b) Andy Roddick
c) Anna Kournikova
d) Blue clay courts
e) Amelie Mauresmo

2016 will see tennis:

a) Continue to thrive as a niche sport that will never be the NFL but continues to feature exceptional athletes and well-regarded sportspeople
b) Reel from a doping scandal that implicates a top player, not the usual thirty-something journeyman with a ranking deep into triple digits
c) Begin to confront the unfortunate reality that the era of the Williams sisters, Federer and Nadal will not last forever
d) Adjust to a changing media landscape, recognizing that the sport’s global appeal is a great, leverage-able asset.

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