There’s nothing worse for a tennis fan than the off-season.
While the players are getting some well-deserved rest, the impatient five-year-old inside all of us is desperately craving the return of some cracking on-court action.
We at Metro.co.uk have already dished out our awards for the season just gone but we’ll now take a look at what’s coming up in the year ahead.
There are plenty of unwritten storylines to unfold, no doubt plenty of thrills and spills and the continued forging of possibly one of the greatest rivalries of all-time.
So with that in mind, here are five things for tennis fans to look forward to in 2017:
Andy Murray-Novak Djokovic rivalry
The Serb may lead their head-to-head 24-11 but for the first time Andy Murray will head into a Grand Slam as the No. 1 seed.
Djokovic’s form tailed off, by his meteoric standards, in the second half of 2016 and Murray was virtually flawless towards the end of the season.
The next chapter of their epic rivalry will see us get answers as to whether Djokovic will bounce back from losing the world No. 1 spot following his split from coach Boris Becker.
Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic titles in 2016
ATP World Tour Finals
Given Djokovic’s record at the Australian Open – he’s a six-time champion – it’s nearly impossible to call a favourite right now for the year’s opening Slam.
It promises to be a thrilling watch.
Record-breaking Serena Williams?
Is this the year the American moves past Steffi Graf to become the outright best female player of the Open Era?
Can she match Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Slams?
All-time female Grand Slam winners
22 – Steffi Graf
22 – Serena Williams
19 – Helen Wills Moody
18 – Chris Evert
Serena will return to action looking to chase down Angelique Kerber to regain the world No. 1 spot but is also playing for a place in history.
The 35-year-old is one of the finest athletes of any generation and 2017 could be the year she elevates herself above all others in her sport.
The return of Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer
The ATP Tour is certainly a quieter place without two of the greatest players of all-time and their returns ahead of the Australian Open are hotly anticipated.
It would perhaps be a stretch to envision either of them winning a Slam this year and it may prove to be Federer’s swansong but they are still capable of moments of magic and their presence at events still gives an extra lift to proceedings.
The continued comeback of Juan Martin Del Potro
Is there a better feel-good story in sport right now?
Del Potro’s return from his injury hell to win a silver medal at the Olympics and the Davis Cup – for the first time in Argentina’s history – will go down in tennis folklore but is this only just the beginning?
Del Potro proved he can mix it with the very best last season, beating both Murray and Djokovic and if he can keep fit, he could prove to be a force once more.
A Grand Slam in 2017 is probably wishful thinking but the thought of Delpo returning to the top of the game is something to get really excited for in the New Year.
The battle for the rest to break the stronghold
There’s always an unpredictable story in tennis. No one could have foreseen the incredible rise of Johanna Konta and few would have predicted Kerber’s dominance in the Slams in 2016 having never reached a final before the start of the year.
Undoubtedly there will be someone who steps up and battles through the rankings. Is this the year Milos Raonic breaks through the Djokovic-Murray dominance? Or perhaps Alexander Zverev will enjoy his breakthrough season to become a regular fixture in the top 10.
Can Kyle Edmund crack the top 20? Can Konta go even higher? Will someone just completely and utterly random win a Slam?
We don’t know. But we’re nicely setup for what promises to be a superb year and it cannot start soon enough.
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