By Ricky Dimon
The 2022 tennis season is here, which means it is time to make predictions for the year’s four MAJORS “Grand Slams.“ Will Novak Djokovic dominate, or will outsiders be able to build on Daniil Medvedev’s 2021 breakthrough? Here are my picks for the four slams.
Australian Open: Daniil Medvedev
Everything about Medvedev inspires confidence for his Australian Open chances. He is now a Grand Slam champion after winning the 2021 U.S. Open and he finished runner-up at Melbourne Park to begin that year. Novak Djokovic was too good for him in the final, just as Djokovic generally is for every opponent Down Under. Of course, the world No. 1’s status for this tournament is up in the air and even if he does play it will be difficult–even for someone of his mental strength–to block out the controversy. For a wide variety of reasons, Medvedev is the smarter choice.
French Open: Rafael Nadal
Until last year, betting against Nadal at the French Open was just irresponsible. Now it’s at least plausible. But that doesn’t mean it’s smart. The 35-year-old Spaniard has won 13 of these things and it quite possibly would have been 14 if he had pulled out a dramatic third set against Djokovic in last year’s semifinals. If Nadal is healthy going into Roland Garros (and he usually is at the end of the clay-court season) this spring, he has to be considered the favorite. Stefanos Tsitsipas, the 2021 runner-up, is heading into 2022 as a question mark from a physical standpoint. The same goes for Dominic Thiem. Medvedev cannot be taken seriously on clay at this point. Djokovic is obviously right there with Nadal, but I would lean toward the King of Clay.
Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic
Over the past decade, some of the most dangerous grass-courters have been Roger Federer (the best grass-courter of all time, of course), Andy Murray, and Milos Raonic. Who knows if Federer and Raonic will even play Wimbledon this summer (or ever again) and Murray’s days of Grand Slam title contention appear to be over. With grass not being the best surface for either Nadal, Medvedev, Zverev, and Tsitsipas, there is really no logical choice except Djokovic. Matteo Berrettini (2021 runner-up) and Denis Shapovalov (semifinalist) can’t be discounted, but they aren’t yet ready to take down Djokovic at the All-England Club.
U.S. Open: Alexander Zverev
It’s Zverev’s time to win a Grand Slam. He came within two points of doing so at the 2020 U.S. Open and he played great at three of the four slams last year. Two of his losses were competitive matches against Djokovic and one was a five-setter against Tsitsipas in the Roland Garros semifinals. The third-ranked German capped off 2021 with his second Nitto ATP Finals, so he is surging into 2022 with a ton of momentum. Given his form and his history of recent success in New York, it would not be surprising to see Zverev capture the biggest title of his career.
I think this could finally be the year we have four different Grand Slam champions. Nadal and Djokovic are still capable of adding more to their record-tying total of 2020, but the era of complete domination by the Big 3 appears to be coming to an end. Although Djokovic can still be dominant at times, his 2022 campaign is certainly off to a tumultuous start. Medvedev, Zverev, Tsitsipas, and Thiem (when healthy) are all legitimate challengers, while Berrettini and Rublev are not too far behind. It’s clear that this is going to be an entertaining year off the court; it could be on the court, as well.
Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.