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Roundtable: Predicting the major storylines for the 2015 season

Keeping with tradition, SI.com asked tennis writers from around the globe one simple question: What are you most looking forward to in the 2015 tennis season?

Mary Carillo, broadcaster

In a year when so much attention was put on Coach of the Year, I hope that in 2015 we will be discussing Student of the Year. A lot of players improved their games this season- Stefan Edberg got Roger Federer to come in more, Caroline Wozniacki's fitness allowed her to believe that she could be more aggressive for the length of a tough match, and so much of the resurgence of the comebackers -- Ana Ivanovic, Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic -- came because improved fitness in this very physical sport helped to make them relevant again…and then their years of experience paid off.

The trends of 2014: What was in? What was out?

But I'm hoping that next year we'll see a player who is truly willing to become a student again -- add to his or her game not just physically, tactically or strategically -- but a player who has the will and the guts to add something, or break down a part of the game and then rebuild it to take the next level. Ivan Lendl, determined to win Wimbledon, was willing to learn to slice his backhand and to volley, and though he couldn't win the title, it was something to see him try so hard? Mats Wilander added a one handed backhand to his game and got to number one with it. Justine Henin beefed up her serve, her drop shot, added slice to her backhand, got to the net more and won majors because after she learned it and practiced it, she used it in the big points of big matches. What's better than that?

It's one thing to change a player's strategy, physicality or mindset. It's another to change technique. After a student learns (or relearns) a stroke, he's got to spend a lot of time thinking about it; it's got to be conscious before it becomes unconscious. There must be a true willingness on the part of the student to trust that all the hard work will be worth it -- to know that breaking lifelong habits is difficult, but that the reward could be great. What if Justin Gimelstob can get John Isner to change his return game, and what if Isner does all the work, then uses his new technique to win the tough matches he's been losing?

There are only two teenagers in the ATP's top 100, and three men over 35. Thirty players are more than 30 years old, and the women's game is aging too. Careers are getting longer. Tennis is so much more stylistically narrow than it used to be. Wouldn't it be something if we saw in 2015 that world class players are still adding variety, touch and imagination to their games? A new stroke. A new wrinkle- the kind that you genuinely want, and that fans want as well.

Tom Tebbutt, Tennis Canada

As he ages, there’s limitless fascination with a player as scrumptious as Federer. He has been such a treat to watch all these years so it’s only natural to hope for a few more as good as his remarkably injury-free comeback 2014. On that theme, can Rafael Nadal overcome yet another fitness obstacle (obstacles?) and win Slams again in 2015?

And there’s always the eternal question of who’s next. I think Stan Wawrinka and Cilic were one-offs, so can a Nishikori, Raonic, Dimitrov, Thiem, Kyrgios, Tomic, Coric, Zverev really break through and be top-3 and maybe win a Slam? On the women’s side, when will longstanding predictions of Serena’s demise finally materialize and who has a “year” from among the Halep, Bouchard, Stephens, Bencic, Keys, Muguruza, Garcia group?

Joel Drucker, Tennis Channel

I'm looking forward to seeing how the rising set of young players continues to advance. On the men's side, will the likes of Wawrinka, Cilic, Nishikori, Raonic and Dimitrov contend significantly week in and week out and earn frequent wins over Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and Murray? With the women, can Halep and Bouchard capture bigger titles?  

Also curious to see how the coaching world continues to evolve. The senior guru, the day to day operational dude, the role of a father or mother -- each delicately reshaping the experience and our understanding about what coaching really means in an individual sport where the player is also the team owner.

Tom Perrotta, The Wall Street Journal

First, a question: Did the 2014 tennis season really end? When? Not sure I believe you. It was one of the most exhausting years in tennis, from Australia to Davis Cup to ITPL. I'm curious to see if players will be in worse shape in 2015 because of it -- or maybe in better shape? Maybe a season that never ends, but has a bunch of small breaks throughout, is better than a condensed/intense season with a lot of time off in the fall and early winter.

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