The world of professional men's tennis that once amateur sport which was transformed in the '70s and '80s by a couple of fiery left-handers named McEnroe and Connors, seems to be in a bit of a flux currently. Of course, it is the offseason right now. But the thing I am thinking is that no one, apart from the ardent fans such as myself, seems to be paying any attention to it. Considering this then, I thought that I would in this article give a bit of a recap on the year that has been and what developments may be coming up next year.
One of the more pleasing aspects of the year for me, came towards the end, with Andy Murray's return to prominence. After having not won anything since his historic title at Wimbledon 2013, he won titles in Shenzen (China), Vienna and Valencia. This run was incredible, and I believe was capped off with his fantastic match against Federer at the Year-end Championships (which he lost). This is an oddity since he obviously lost it. But sometimes you can have great moments in defeat, and in this match I think that Murray had one of those. I think that this performance will bode well for Murray next year.
Federer's performances in 2014 will not be as significant for the year ahead as what Murray's late season resurgence will be. Federer's year was no doubt vastly superior from 2013. But we shouldn't get swayed into thinking that the Federer of 2005 and 2006 will be back in 2015. That would be ignorant when you consider that he is still a 33-year-old man, which is practically a Grandpa in tennis years. The new players that emerged this year at the absolute top of the game, like Nishikori and Cilic, will benefit from the momentum they gathered. Those two players in particular are both in their mid-20s and will have years of great tennis ahead.
It breaks my heart to say this, but I think that considering the aggressive way he plays, Rafael Nadal may never again ascend to the top ranks of the sport. He perhaps could still win another one or two titles at the French Open, but I think he will only do so if he cuts hard courts from his schedule completely. Often he has complained that hard courts are too hard on player's knees, and shouldn't be the most-played surface in the sport. I actually agree with him on this point, but I don't think that the tennis administration will be making a radical shift in the surfaces any time soon.