It’s been a long season up until now, and the next generation players are raring to go. This will be an interesting week of tennis to watch as only two out of the eight women’s players are WTA Finals veterans, and on the men’s side the average age in the bracket is only about 24 - when you take out outlier Novak Djokovic, who is 34.
We are currently in the middle of the round-robin stage of the WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico, and the finals are set to happen on November 17th. As stated above, the veterans this year are Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza and the Czech Republic’s Karolína Plíšková, and they will be looking to make their experience count. Notable players who are absent include Naomi Osaka (still on her hiatus but seeking to return in the near future), Serena Williams (recuperating from a torn hamstring), and current female world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, who decided to skip in order to focus on the Australian Open in her home country.
But there are still some formidable opponents in the rest of the bracket. One of them is Barbora Krejčíková, a player who has broken out in women’s singles this year. She has seven Grand Slam titles, winning Roland Garros this year in both singles and doubles. She also took Olympic gold in Tokyo as one of four female players to have won Grand Slams in all three of singles, doubles and mixed doubles disciplines. Another is Paula Badosa, who beat Victoria Azarenka to claim the Indian Wells title. The 23 year old is in peak form as she has won five out of six of her group stage rounds here at the Finals and I would bet on her at least reaching the top four.
Going across the world to Turin, the ATP Finals started Sunday 14th November and already there has been catastrophe for more than one player. Home crowd favourite Matteo Berrettini may be out with an abdominal injury sustained during his first match against Alexander Zverev. If he is unable to continue, compatriot Jannik Sinner will step in as first alternate (the second one being British No. 1 Cameron Norrie).
Djokovic is also down a coach as Goran Ivanisevic flew home to care for his sick son. The Serbian usually has both his coaches by his side at the finals, and with the former Wimbledon champion gone, he is left with head coach Marián Vajda by his side. Although Djokovic has not won since 2015, he will be looking to take his sixth Finals title to tie Roger Federer’s record.
Players to watch include Zverev, who has been a former winner of the ATP Finals back in 2018, and he also won Olympic gold on his way to Turin. Defending champion Daniil Medvedev is here, and he was able to deny Djokovic the US Open title and stop his bid for the first calendar Grand Slam (all four majors in one season) in men’s singles since Rod Laver in 1969. Debutant Hubert Hurcacz has also enjoyed a good 2021 season as he made it to the semi-finals of Wimbledon and won the Miami Open early in the year. He qualified seventh here, just ahead of fellow ATP Final newcomer Casper Ruud.
My prediction for the top two will be Badosa v Sabalenka (WTA) and Medvedev v Djokovic (ATP).