Our What's Next? series looks at every player who finished in the ATP or WTA Top 10 this season, and considers their future in three different ways.
If Maria Sharapova’s 2012 was a long-delayed restoration, Serena’s last 12 months were a long-delayed domination. After her wins at Wimbledon, the Olympics, the U.S. Open and the WTA Championships, and her 8-0 record against Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, the only piece of disorder left on tour was her year-end No. 3 ranking. If all goes as planned, Serena should be moving up after the 2013 Australian Open, a tournament she has won five times.
Last year, Serena started working with a new coach and using a new hybrid set of strings. The result was increased consistency, from shot to shot and match to match, and perhaps the best six-month run of her tennis career. In the past, Serena has been prone to the occasional early upset, as she was when she went out in the fourth round in Melbourne in 2012. We’ll see if that vulnerability is a thing of the past. If it is, it could be a very big year for her.
Best Case Scenario: If the old lapses really are gone, the sky’s the limit for Serena. There’s no tournament she hasn’t won in the past, and no player she can’t beat—or destroy, if necessary. Ten years ago, she won the Serena Slam, all four majors in a row. There’s no reason she couldn’t make that Serena Slam a Grand one 10 years later.
Worst Case Scenario: While Serena is still the world’s best at 31, she hasn’t managed to dominate consistently for some time now. Injuries, illness, and periods of poor conditioning have gotten in the way eventually. Is she due for another dip? If she loses in Australia, her chance of winning big again won’t come until Wimbledon.
Australian Open Outlook: She was the best player of 2012, didn't lose to her two closest rivals, has won this tournament five times, and says she missed winning it last year. Enough said, she's the favorite.
More What's Next?
- ATP No. 10, Richard Gasquet
- WTA No. 10, Caroline Wozniacki
- ATP No. 9, Janko Tipsarevic
- WTA No. 9, Sam Stosur
- ATP No. 8, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
- WTA No. 8, Petra Kvitova
- ATP No. 7, Juan Martin del Potro
- WTA No. 7, Li Na
- ATP No. 6, Tomas Berdych
- WTA No. 6, Sara Errani
- ATP No. 5, David Ferrer
- WTA No. 5, Angelique Kerber
- ATP No. 4, Rafael Nadal
- WTA No. 4, Agnieszka Radwanska
- ATP No. 3, Andy Murray
- WTA No. 3, Serena Williams