Ten Things I think I think* at start of 2010 season
1. If there's not outright parity in the men's game, we're a long way from the days when
2. Like Weimar currency, the concept of "retirement" has lost all value and credibility in the Tennis Republic. Particularly as it pertains to the WTA, the term has come to mean "temporary leave of absence. Hold the parting gifts, the maudlin speeches, and Costco sheetcake, please."
3. Last time most of the tennis world saw
4. Rafael Nadal needs to re-establish himself. After dominating the first five months of 2009 -- winning the Australian Open, daggering Federer, building his lead as the No. 1 player -- Nadal tanked like the Sun Belt housing market. Injuries, doubts and the break-up of his folks' marriage conspired to bring on the worst stretch of his professional career. By his own admission, Nadal "didn't have the confidence" during a thoroughly forgettable summer and fall. He did salvage his season by helping Spain win another Davis Cup. And he acquitted himself well at the New Year's Eve exhibition (simultaneously undercutting his frequent complaints about the length of the season). His singularly violent tennis doesn't bode well for longevity, but it says here he'll rebound in 2010.
6. Speaking of returning to where she once belonged, 2010 is a big year for
7. "Make or break" is overstating the case, but it's a crucial year for U.S. tennis.
8. Big is back. A decade ago, there were predictions that tennis would be ruled by
9. Behold, mixed doubles! It was
10. Politics, economics and in-fighting seldom lurk far from the surface in tennis. As usual, some of the real intrigue and grudge matches will play out at this subcutaneous level. The ATP will continue its fools errand of trying to appease overextended players and trying to appease overextended sponsors -- all the while hoping the legal fees from the unending Hamburg lawsuit don't submarine the tour's finances. The WTA will continue to seek a sponsor as it fights the perception the product has seen better days. The tours will agitate for more revenues from the Slams. The ITF needs to address the WADA anti-doping protocol that has yielded three successful appeals in recent months.