Who needs a big 2022 season?
Maybe their 2021 wasn’t up to par. Maybe they’re coming back from injury and hoping to get back to the top of the game. Maybe they’re looking to prove themselves one last time.
We’re picking a few players who will be determined to make the year ahead a success…
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“I think in 2022 we will know what Andy Murray is going to do. Is he going to continue touring or will this be his last year? I think that’s the kind of season that will determine how long we will still see this great champion.
Greg Rusedski said it last month: it’s been a huge year for Andy Murray.
The three-time Grand Slam champion showed signs of progress in the second half of the 2021 season with victories over Carlos Alcaraz, Hubert Hurkacz and Jannik Sinner. He also looked good at the Mubadala Tennis Championship beating Dan Evans and Rafael Nadal en route to the final.
But will he be able to find a coherent level? His positive results over the past six months have often been followed by disappointing defeats and Murray hasn’t won three straight matches on the ATP Tour in over two years.
With his ranking at No. 134 in the world, it’s going to be one tough draw after another for Murray, and if he continues to lose in the second or third round will he maintain his motivation to keep playing?
Murray has shown he can still beat his day’s best, but he still has a level or two to find to win tournaments again. Maybe with new coach Jan de Witt in his corner, he can find it.
The 2021 season has been a season to forget for Dominic Thiem.
Expectations were high at the start of the year that the Austrian could build on his US Open victory and challenge for other major titles. However, he was almost forgotten as Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev took charge of challenging Novak Djokovic.
His form was poor to start the season and injury issues didn’t help. He said in March he needed to “reset”, but a wrist injury in the summer forced him to close for the rest of the year.
Now his plans for 2022 have started off on the wrong foot as he pulled out of the Mubadala Tennis Championship and also pulled out of two Australian Open warm-up events. Even if his participation in the first Grand Slam of the new year seems uncertain, he remains hopeful to compete again with the best in the world. “It’s been a bad year now, but hopefully six or seven good years will follow,” he said this month.
It would be a welcome sight to see Thiem’s hard-hitting and explosive playing on tour again.
With two titles, a run to at least the last 16 of every major tournament and an appearance at the WTA Finals, Iga Swiatek hasn’t had a bad season.
But given the very high level she has shown at times, it feels like there’s a lot more to come from Swiatek.
The 20-year-old may have felt it herself when she recently parted ways with longtime manager Piotr Sierzputowski. She also said after going 1-2 in the WTA Finals that she saw areas for improvement.
Image credit: Getty Images
“My goal for next season will be to be more relaxed on the pitch, kind of like trusting myself with my game, not letting stress bother me so much, like accepting it. I’ll try to accept it a bit more.
Swiatek is the youngest player in the top 10 in a few years and clearly has the game to win more big titles. If she can consistently perform at her best, she will be a force on the WTA Tour.
Felix Auger Aliassime
Felix Auger Aliassime’s stock has climbed over the past few years and under Toni Nadal’s guidance, it looks like he could be on the verge of taking another step forward.
The 21-year-old broke into the top 10 this year and impressed this summer by reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the semi-finals at the US Open. Although it can sometimes go unnoticed during a Next Gen discussion, it clearly has a very promising future. The question is how brilliant.
His results have improved since he started working with Toni Nadal in April and he says he feels more “confident” in himself.
“I think to sum up what Toni has brought this year, he’s brought a lot of confidence to the team, that we’re on the right track, he’s brought confidence that making the Grand Slam semi-finals is tough but it’s something that is doable, something normal rather than something extraordinary. It just brought a lot of confidence to myself and my team,” Auger Aliassime told the Match Point Canada podcast.
Auger Aliassime has already won 100 victories on the ATP Tour and played in eight finals, without yet winning a title. That should be the Canadian’s next goal as he looks to continue his career progression over the next 12 months.
Probably the best player on the WTA Tour yet to win a major, Karolina Pliskova has come so close this year reaching her second Grand Slam final at Wimbledon and the US Open quarter-finals.
But is time running out for the 29-year-old?
With her big serve and powerful groundstrokes, she’s got the game to confuse most players on tour, and maybe after her run to the final this year she’ll be craving another shot at Wimbledon. Pliskova’s season didn’t start on the best note as she withdrew from the Australian Open with a hand injury, but at the top of an open WTA Tour she could still be a factor in major tournaments.
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