2021 ATP Tour Year in Review – The Changing of the Guard in 2022

AP/Luca Bruno, file

2021 ATP Tour Year in Review – The Changing of the Guard in 2022

The 2021 ATP season is officially complete.

Alexander Zverev lifted the ATP Finals trophy in Turin after a thorough defeat of tournament favorite and defending champion Daniil Medvedev. More impressive was the fact that Zverev had to beat both Djokovic and Medvedev back-to-back. This was Zverev’s second ATP finals tournament and sixth victory against Medvedev. Also of note was the fact that Zverev snapped a five-match losing streak against Medvedev.

It was a fitting ending to a year that finally established Zverev, Tsitsipas, and Medvedev as Grand Slam contenders. Although Djokovic finished number one again for the seventh time and captured three of the four Grand Slams, Medvedev is the one that finally broke through. It was about time!

Medvedev broke through in impressive fashion, demolishing Djokovic in three straight sets at the US Open Final. Djokovic was able to get a little payback a couple of months later by beating Medvedev in the Paris Masters final. However, at the ATP finals, he failed to make it to the finals for another go at Medvedev. Although the Djokovic-Medvedev rivalry is bound to continue in 2022, one gets the feeling that the year will be all about Medvedev, Tsitsipas, and Zverev.

Roger Federer will still be recovering from injury and is not slated to return immediately. Nadal will be coming off an injury, and it’s hard to tell how much the layoff will have affected his sharpness. That leaves Djokovic all alone once again to carry the torch for the tennis legends. Djokovic will be doubtful for the Australian Open given his stance on vaccines, so his next chance at ta slam will be at the French Open. There, he will probably need to contend with Tsitsipas, who was in sublime form on the clay in 2021, picking up the Monte Carlo Masters and reaching the final of the French Open.

Then it’s off to Wimbledon where he’ll most likely have the best chance to win his 21st Grand Slam title. If he doesn’t do it there, I remain doubtful that he can win at the US Open again. The US Open courts are usually reserved for the youth of the game. Medvedev and Zverev may very well rule the courts of the US Open for the next five to ten years. Nevertheless, it should be a very exciting 2022 with the young guard finally lifting Grand Slam titles, and Djokovic chasing his 21st Grand Slam title to become the undisputed greatest of all time.

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