End of Year Rank: 18
Source: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images AsiaPac
Australian Open: Semi Finalist
Strasbourg: Quarter Finalist (W/O to Kristina Mladenovic)
Wimbledon: Quarter Finalist
US Open: Round of 16
Eastbourne R32 To Belinda Bencic (Defending Champion)
There are huge chunks of the year missing from Madison's stats. I know that she was supposed to be out with injury and I understand that she is entitled to her off time but the images that have really stuck with me from 2015 are those of her at Coachella with Sam Querrey and other friends of hers. She has not accomplished enough to take a sabbatical like the world number one did after the US Open but it seems she, like other young US players, feel they're on the same level as the top players on their tour.
Sadly when Madison did play there was no discernible improvement in her game from 2014. At least in 2014 she won a title. This year she wasn't able to defend that title.
Madison has the potential to be a very good player but she is going to have to show more discipline when her opponent isn't cooperating with her plans and countering her every move. This year Madison seemed to get frustrated and fall apart when this happened. There was no evidence of a Plan B in her repertoire.
In other words she doesn't think well on court. No matter her potential she's got to kick her game up a notch or she is going to end up one of those mid level players with a decent following of fans who will be singing the lament "woulda coulda shoulda".
Grade for 2015: C
End of Year Rank: 81
via Getty Images
Rotterdam: Round of 16
Irving Tennis Classic (CH): Quarter Finalist
Open du Pays D'Aix (CH): Semi Finalist
Neckarcup (CH): Champion
Bästad: Semi Finalist
Citi Open: Quarter Finalist
Winner ATP 2015 Star of Tomorrow Award
Alexander Zverev is right about where he should be for his age. He hasn't won any majors but that is okay. I think winning a major too young (or doing very well at a major at too young an age) makes a young person think there's not much more they have to do to improve their game. After all they beat such and such a great player so what they're doing has to be fine right? It's as if they're not paying attention to what the top players are doing. Male or female their games are constantly evolving, constantly changing. If you're playing the same game you played at eighteen when you're 24 something is wrong. If you're playing the same game you played at 18 at 30 you're playing Challenger level tennis.
I had to laugh when I saw that they gave this award to him instead of Chung Hyeon, who at 19 is ranked #51 in the world but maybe they wanted to make up for the way they treated him during the year. Many of his losses came after he had to play three rounds of Qualifying. I saw this at the US Open. He was playing Qualifying while some questionable players were direct entries into the Main Draw.
I hope that the young man is angry about 2015 regardless of the Award. It would be nice if he can win an ATP 250 during 2016 and be given wild cards into main draws at mid level events but we'll see. In order to do this he is going to have to keep his emotions in check especially during the business end of a match. This year he would start talking to himself, throwing up his hands and go into full meltdown mode. He's got about a year to stop doing that.
Grade for 2015: C
There were several times during the year that I wanted to drop these two as my players to watch and choose others. My choice on the men's side would've been easy: Chung Hyeon had a much better year than Zverev and is ranked 30 points higher. Right now it seems that he is being watched and praised by a small group of aficionados who see that a great tennis mind is being formed. He's not ready to win majors yet but I can see him winning a 250 or two and maybe going to the quarters in a M500. He does get frustrated on court but I haven't seen amy yelling and screaming breakdowns from him. You can almost hear him thinking "I'll do better next time" while going off to scout the top players on his own.
The women's side would've been difficult. Belinda Bencic? Elina Svitolina? Anna Karolina Schmiedlova? Daria Gavrilova? Alison van Uytvanck? I think Louisa Chirico of the US at 19 Is going to have to step up her game. There are lots of people in the States who want her to do well but does she have that steel will to get beyond being a rich girl dabbling in a rich person's sport? She's 5'9" (1.524m) tall, a decent height, and has a decent game. We'll see.
As for the other women named they have decent games but Bencic and Gavrilova can go full diva on you in the blink of an eye. Gavrilova wants her high emotion to distract her opponent and it has worked for her but once players learn to ignore your insanity on court they do and they beat you. I'm not impressed by Svitolina or Schmiedlova to be honest. I don't see great there. I see decent.
The one young woman I'm going to be looking at next year will be Osaka Naomi. Due to her mixed race heritage (her father is Haitian) she does not have the thin body of Asian women. She also has the ability to stay focused and win matches she shouldn't. Yes I'm talking about her match vs Caroline Garcia in Singapore. No one, not even me, saw her having a chance in that match but she won it.
By the time play starts again at the end of December I'll have made up my mind who I will follow in 2016.
My write up on the ATP will come a week or so after Davis Cup.
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