You’ve read The Big Racket’s 8 players to watch this year, now it’s time for the fans’ outlook on what they are hoping for in 2019.
Will Andy Murray ever regain the British number 1 spot? For me, I personally think not. Edmund had a great 2018 and he has the game to consolidate this in 2019. He looked comfortable at the top of the British pecking order and feel he is growing nicely into this role. I wouldn’t be surprised if he reaches another Grand Slam semi final and there is no reason why he couldn’t pick up a few more ATP titles. It’s going to be tough for Edmund to break into the top 10 this year and probably unlikely but he could well be knocking on the door.
So if Edmund can’t make the top 10, can Murray? It is with so much pain that I have to say that I think Murray may well be playing his last season of tennis. He has hinted that if he is still feeling pain from his hip injury then that may be the end of the road for him. However perhaps more importantly, since his time out of the game, I truly believe that the Next Generation of players have caught up and even taken over Murray. No one can deny Murray’s movement and athleticism, but having a game based around soaking up pressure and counter-attacking will leave him chasing and defending far too often, and against these younger, heavy hitters, I fear Murray could constantly find himself fighting to stay alive in these points. The bad news for Murray is that there are too many of them as well: Rublev, Medvedev, Shapovalov, Tsitsipas, Khachanov, etc.
However on a brighter note Britain’s Jay Clarke is still rising up the rankings and approaching the top 200 and may, with a few withdrawals from other players, see him accepted into some larger events and maybe even Grand Slam qualifying. Watch this space.
It sure is going to be an exciting year in world tennis and possibly the year we witness the the ‘New Breed’ taking control of the top 10. Lets hope Britain’s young guns can make their impact too!
Follow Thomas on Twitter: @_JustTennis_
Andy Murray: I don’t think I dare to have hopes, beyond wishing that he’ll be able to play to a standard that satisfies him enough to keep playing.
Kyle Edmund: I’d be happy just to to see him consolidate after an excellent 2018. I’ve been watching him play since juniors, and last year his game really went up a level. If he can stay in the top 20, that would be a tremendous achievement. I don’t mean to underestimate him, but I think keeping your ranking around that level can be very tricky.
Cameron Norrie: to get to top 50, which I think is realistic.
Jay Clarke: to keep improving and aim for the top 100. I think he’ll get there, but might need a bit longer.
I wouldn’t write either James Ward or Dan Evans off yet. They’ve both been sneaking back up the rankings, and I’m particularly impressed by Ward’s return from injury.
I’d love to see Jo Konta get back to somewhere near her best, after a disappointing 2018. When she’s playing her best her game it’s a joy to watch, and I honestly never saw that coming, having watched her play a few times in previous years.
I think GB could have quite a few women in the top 100 by the end of 2019. I’m excited by the fact that GB has quite a lot of younger women players on the rise. I think Harriet Dart is going to be top 100 very soon and I believe she could be a lot better than that, maybe even top 50 within the year.
I think Katie Swan is our other player with most potential. Katie Boulter has already made the top 100 and now has the challenge of staying there, which I think she should. I feel Heather Watson is going to struggle to return to her best, she’s just been too inconsistent lately. I really hope she can stay inside the top 100, but I predict she’ll be overtaken by some of the younger British women this year.
Sadly, I can’t see Naomi Broady returning to the top 100, but she’s a good doubles player and I wonder if she’d do well to focus on that.
I have to include this, not just because I’m a doubles fan but because GB has lots of doubles players coming through. In particular: Neal Skupski, Joe Salisbury, Luke Bambridge & Jonny O’Mara. There’s currently a lot of mixing and matching of partners, and while it’s great to be versatile, the players at the very top pretty much all have a regular partner and they should all be aiming at the top.
Follow Kate on Twitter: @K8Carine
Jay Clarke – I expect 20 year old Jay to continue to make excellent progress. 2018 saw Jay win his first ever ATP Challenger event in Binghamton and reach his career best ranking of 173. Jay has been working really hard in the off season and is looking the fittest and strongest he has ever been! Jay is a player that seeks to improve in every match he plays and more often then not does. I expect a big 2019 for Jay.. closing in on the top 100 as well as more Challenger finals and winning his first ever singles Grand Slam match.
Verdict – Expect to see a mentally and physically stronger Jay in 2019, to finish 2019 just outside the top 100.
Dan Evans – Dan is looking as motivated as I have ever seen him. Been working hard with the British Team in Florida in the off season and I think 2019 will be a great season for him. After a well publicised suspension, Dan’s had to work really hard to get a ranking and finished the season really strong getting back into the top 200. I expect Dan to get back in the top 100 this year and see a new determined and focused player.
Verdict – To get back in the top 100 and letting his tennis make the headlines.
Katie Swan – Katie has had a great off season spending, working hard in Argentina with coach Diego Veronelli. Despite having a frustrating 2018, with niggly injuries, she broke the 200 for the first team and hit a career best of 163. I fully expect 2019 to be a big breakthrough year for Katie. Sheis one of the fittest girls on tour and has a powerful game to match with all the shots and more in the book. I believe 2019 will see Katie make huge strides and I am going all out with a top 50 finish by the end of the year.
Verdict – One of the best GB ladies prospect we have had – 2019 will show the world how good she really is.
Katy Dunne – One of the hardest working girls on tour and clocks air miles for fun! Last year Katy played some of her best tennis and narrowly lost on the Centre Court to Jelena Ostapenko at Wimbledon. I believe that will give Katy the self belief that she really can belong at the very top end of the game. I expect 2019 to be Katy’s best season as a professional tennis player. A player who is always improving, I feel she now has the self belief to really execute her game this season with a more attacking brand of tennis and will finish the year in the top 125.
Verdict – Expect to see a more positive, confident and attacking Katy Dunne.
Jack Draper – Recently turned 17, Jack Draper is very much the real deal and one of the best prospects we have ever had. I expect 2019 to be a huge breakthrough year for Jack. He is already the highest ranked men’s player under 18 in the world and is currently ranked at 561. I expect Jack to break the top 100 in 2019 and pick up some big scalps along the way. He is a great athlete with a really strong temperament for someone so young and has the mental and physical strength. But more importantly he has the skill to really go on and dominate the sport in years to come.
Verdict – Without doubt a future top 10 player and one who is on the path to winning multiple slams and reach the very top of the sport.
Jodie Burrage – 19 year old Jodie had a really encouraging 2018 hitting a career best ranking of 411. 2019 will be a huge year for Jodie and providing she can stay fit will see a high rise in the rankings. Jodie hits the ball really really hard, is super fit and works hard on her game. She has a great attitude on court and I expect her to break the top 200 this year – with much more to come in the future.
Verdict – Has the tools to get to the very top of the ladies game.
Follow Pav on Twitter: @pavyg
I have high hopes for all the ‘British gang’ going into the 2019 season. However two players in particular have caught my eye and I am expecting big things from them next year. These are Gabriella Taylor and Harriet Dart, both with powerful games and can win points from anywhere on the court.
Having had breakthrough years in 2018 I can see them both pushing on to bigger and better things in the new year. I would not be surprised to see either one or both players make their top 100 debut, especially Harriet.
Having been plagued with a knee injury towards the end of last year and having to have undergone surgery, former top 50 doubles player Anna Smith could also make big strides in 2019, depending on her return date. Having gone through more than five different partners last year, Anna seemed to find her best game with the Swiss player Xenia Knoll.
Having reached two finals together and multiple semi finals it was unfortunate to see Smith have to end her season after the US Open. Returning with a stable partner could see Anna fly back up the rankings again if she takes off where she left.
Follow Joseph on Twitter: @QueenJKonta
The main focus of attention is the recovery of Andy Murray and whether he can get back to his very best. Personally I think he can but, let’s not forget, very few people know just how he feels and no one knows how he’s going to feel.
I believe Murray can crack top 10 at least if he can have an uninterrupted season. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have fought back unbelievably from bad injuries in recent years but this injury is harder to deal with (by reputation) than the others.
If Edmund can crack his health problems I definitely think top 10 is a realistic goal. I think Katie Swan, with her talent, can crack the top 100 along with Harriet Dart.
Gabi should also be looking there too but has a bit more to do. She certainly has the most pressure on early doors with last year’s Australia points coming off.
Heather Watson will also struggle to stay in top 100, for me. Boulter may crack into top 50 but I don’t think she’ll get much further this year, likewise for Norrie. Dan Evans was good enough once to get top 40 and I believe he can get to 60 or 70 this year.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @TheJDSgames