Remember the emotions that run through us when we are eagerly waiting for something? The fidgetiness, the distraction and the impatience that remind us of how time is drawing closer upon which we want. Looking back to the last few days of 2019, these were the emotions running through many who were just hanging around for the 2020 tennis season to start.
Now that we are already a few days into the new season, the period of seemingly-endless waiting feels like an unwanted reality. One which does not need to be thought of again for at least the next 11 months. Moreover, with the chaos of the season picking up so quickly, it is not hard to keep one’s focus on the action on the tennis courts.
This time around, the changes, too, are adding to the vivacity of the sport’s calendar. Previously, audiences of the sport were eased into the action. It was a slow increase in intensity, with tournaments fanning out from semi-serious to most-compelling action.
Now, with the launch of the ATP Cup, each day has brought a new set of excitement without any pauses in between. The world’s two top-ranked players, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic played and won their initial matches.
Their wins have invoked mixed feelings. After all, the 20s were when the youngsters were supposed to upstage their seniors. But with well-tested younger players such as Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Alexander Zverev starting their 2020 with a loss each, desperation has also set in quicker, that perhaps change is not in the offing anytime soon than it was before.
Of course, there were plenty of youngsters who defied this trend of losses. From Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime, to Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev, to Borna Coric, and to Hubert Hurkacz, these boys held the “NextGen” flag adroitly aloft.
In turn, their doing so, has helped to keep attention focused on them to see if anyone among them can scale the Big Three’s walls up at the Majors this year, beginning at the Australian Open. This expectancy surrounding the men’s tour is also weighed down by the retirements that are due to come about this year.
The same can, then, be said about the women’s tour that awaits, among others’, the retirement of former world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, after the Australian Open. These plotted farewells – poignant for many – map an interesting tangent in the WTA Tour while reiterating the quickness with which change comes about.
Amid the constancy of contentiousness about the pay disparity – and the need to eliminate it – between the two tours, these changes make it unmissable to see the functional distinction between the men’s and women’s tours.
2019 elevated these differences to a peak with breakthroughs coming faster among the women than the men. As such it is not difficult to correlate that 2020 will take this further. However, these are just the broadest templates of what this season could bring.
Status quos – even, decisions – could change, too. The good thing is, the season’s newness holds this promise, too.