Home Sport From Novak Djokovic to Iga Swiatek, Sportsmail's review of an unprecedented 2020...

From Novak Djokovic to Iga Swiatek, Sportsmail's review of an unprecedented 2020 tennis season


An unprecedented tennis year wound to its conclusion on Sunday, having salvaged a season in the face of enormous logistical difficulties that were a combination of the Covid crisis and its international nature. 

Sportsmail’s tennis correspondent Mike Dickson looks at some of the notable personalities, events and quirks that shaped a year which, hopefully, we will not see the like of again….

Sportsmail provides a review of the 2020 tennis year after the ATP World Tour Finals ended

Sportsmail provides a review of the 2020 tennis year after the ATP World Tour Finals ended

NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION  

On May 1, tennis became the first of any professional sport to be played in western Europe for 37 days when Germany-based Australian promoter Rodney Rapson managed to put on an eight-man exhibition in the town of Hohr Grenzhausen, featuring the likes of Dustin Brown. 

Jamie Murray showed his entrepreneurial skills when he was the driving force behind the Battle of the Brits events, which formed the centrepiece of a makeshift UK summer.

HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE 

As with plenty of what he does (such as his sometimes overlooked charitable deeds) there may have been good intentions behind Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour. 

But in ignoring Covid commonsense by trying to defy the virus in the execution of his Balkan series it was never going to end well for the 33 year-old Serb. 

Even before that he had alienated many with his views on such matters as purifying water by the power of the mind, and on vaccines. Stand by for the latter to be the hot potato of 2021.

Novak Djokovic (above) had to answer difficult questions after his controversial Adria Tour

Novak Djokovic (above) had to answer difficult questions after his controversial Adria Tour

FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME 

Laura Clark arrived at the US Open as an unknown line judge, and after being in the wrong place at the wrong time found herself at the centre of an international sporting incident when Djokovic accidentally struck her with a ball swiped away in anger. 

The online abuse she received following his default was inexcusable. 

It remains to be seen if missing out on the title will have historical consequences in the race for the most Grand Slam titles.

The online abuse Laura Clark received following Djokovic's US Open  default was inexcusable

The online abuse Laura Clark received following Djokovic’s US Open  default was inexcusable

ABSENT FRIENDS  

Thanks to ranking points being frozen for two years Ash Barty ends 2020 as the world number one, despite having played only 14 matches and not turned up to defend her French Open title. 

Bianca Andreescu, 2019 US Open winner, did not play at all but remains world number seven. 

Nick Kyrgios managed only nine matches, but made his presence felt by his pontificating on social media, taking fire at a range of targets.

MOST WELCOME NEWCOMERS 

Even a truncated season provided an infusion of star quality. 

The most obvious riser is Poland’s Iga Swiatek, who swept the French Open in magisterial fashion and will surely win more. 

Italian teenager Jannik Sinner, from the Tyrolean mountains, is a former downhill racer for whom the only way is up. 

He won a first ATP trophy and is destined to soar from his year-end resting place of 37.

Iga Swiatek was one of the exciting newcomers in 2020 tennis and she won the French Open

Iga Swiatek was one of the exciting newcomers in 2020 tennis and she won the French Open

BRITS OF THE YEAR

A near dead heat between Dan Evans and Joe Salisbury. 

Evans continually punched above his height in taking down eight top 20 players and establishing himself as GB number one. 

Doubles is not always easy to place in the game’s ecosystem but there was excellence from Salisbury, who won the Australian Open and just missed out on the number one ranking with Rajeev Ram.

Dan Evans (above) was one of the top British stars this year and beat eight top 20 players

Dan Evans (above) was one of the top British stars this year and beat eight top 20 players

THE LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES  

Strange to say, but the Covid crisis has, in some ways, been a boon to tennis. 

Its safe nature and early opening meant that the virus succeeded where countless LTA initiatives and the power of Wimbledon have failed, in providing a huge boost to grass roots participation. 

Echoing a similar situation in golf, public courts were never fuller than this summer while many clubs suddenly found membership lists going from sagging to saturated.

BEST MATCHES  

Dominic Thiem was a common factor in several, with perhaps his five set French Open quarter final loss to Diego Schwartzman the pick. 

The narrow loss of Serena Williams to Victoria Azarenka in the US Open semis may have been the pick among the women.

Dominic Thiem's French Open quarter-final win over Diego Schwartzman was a brilliant match

Dominic Thiem’s French Open quarter-final win over Diego Schwartzman was a brilliant match

UNLIKELY HEROES

At a time when quotas, rather than old-fashioned expertise, is the driving prerequisite in some areas of sports administration Wimbledon’s Finance Sub-Committee struck a blow for men in suits with its previously unpublicised decision to maintain pandemic insurance. 

The tournament had to be cancelled, but the eventual payout will cushion the financial blow to the order of somewhere in excess of £175 million.

THE FUTURE IS… MURKY 

Better times ahead, surely, but the fate of the Australian Open and the early part of next season remains unclear. 

It is likely that the end beckons for Serena Williams (left), Roger Federer (right) in 2021

It is likely that the end beckons for Serena Williams (left), Roger Federer (right) in 2021

New stars will emerge, but the game must also brace itself for lower prize funds and the departure of some iconic names. 

It is likely that at least one of Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Andy Murray will have walked off into the sunset by this time next year.

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