Call for ATP Predictions

From the brain of Seth Godin.

Surefire predictions
I’m betting on the following happening in 2016:

  • An event will happen that will surprise, confound and ultimately bore the pundits.
  • Out of the corner of your eye, you’ll notice something new that will delight you.
  • You’ll be criticized for work you shipped, even though it wasn’t made for the person who didn’t like it.
  • Something obvious will become obvious.
  • A pop culture emergency will become the thing that everyone is talking about, distracting us from the actually important work at hand.
  • You’ll gain new leverage and the ability to make even more of a difference.
  • We’ll waste more than a billion hours staring at screens. (That’s in total, but for some people, it might feel like an individual number).
  • That thing that everyone was afraid of won’t come to pass.
  • Some people will gain (temporary) power by ostracizing the other, amplifying our fears and racing to the bottom.
  • And the long-term trend toward connection, dignity and possibility will continue. Slowly.
  • Opportunities will be missed. Lessons will be learned.
  • You’ll say or write something that will shine a light, open a door and make a connection.
  • Nothing will be as perfect as we imagined it. Many things will be better than that, though.
  • Leaps will be taken.
  • You will exceed expectations.
  • The project you’ve been working on will begin to pay off in unexpected ways, if you’re open to seeing them.
  • You will start something. And quit something.
  • That expensive habit that you don’t even enjoy that much will continue to be expensive.
  • We’ll forget some hard lessons but we’ll also learn some new ones.

A pretty safe list, because, of course, this always happens.


We’re nearing the end of 2015, so these sorts of exercises have started popping-up. This is what we do, naturally: think about what sort of next year we have in store. Predicting what is going to happen is difficult but quite interesting conversation because it invites analysis, prophecy, belief, intuition, etc.

What is going to happen in 2016 concerning the ATP? Djokovic is going to win the CGS?  Hmmmm. The way 2015 played-out and ended, I guess a case could be made. Either way, we have another long year of tennis ahead that begins shortly, with Abu Dhabi tennis going off this week and Brisbane next week, officially kicking-off the 2016 ATP schedule.

Whether or not you have anything to commit to this little conversation, I’ll come-up with some ideas in the next day or so. Here’s our opportunity, here on this blog, to look really smart; I don’t think we’re in the business of shaming people for failing to predict the future, yet conversely we are quick to congratulate for even a hint of prescience. Right? Nothing to lose.

What do you got?


2 thoughts on “Call for ATP Predictions

  1. I’ll continue our discussion from the previous thread here.

    No, I won’t change Mat’s coach. He’s a good guy, he works very hard, and, like I wrote, he loves children. He also is devoid of vanity, and he helped me with advices when I was working on my own with kids. Then, he’s his third coach, and I know a few others, and this one is clearly the best. Under his guidance, my boy improved more in three months than he manage to do in the previous two years — he basically lost them. He helped me improve the game of a girl that was coached at Obradovic’s academy — she was taking five lessons a week, and after four years, she wasn’t able to hit a forehand properly. Her serve was atrocious. She worked with the boys for a month, and the result was exceptional — her game was much better.

    I’ll give you another example. I tried to learn Mat’s friend to change his toss (he tossed the ball to much on the right, and he was changing his grip to semi-western while serving). Nothing helped. Then, Mat’s coach advised me to tell the boy to toss the ball over his head. It was just a trick, but it worked: in a few days, the toss and the serve were much better.

    Mat’s coach worked for years with a top pro coach (you know who I mean), and his knowledge is deep. Nonetheless, he still tries to improve, and he doesn’t hesitate to ask for opinion and help, even from me… although I don’t believe that he has a lot to learn from me.

    But since he started working on his own recently, he needs some success in tournaments and he’s a bit too focused on that. So he tends to confuse “talent” with precocious physicality. My boy will probably be 6f1, but like his uncle and his mother, he’s growing slowly. He is willowy, with long limbs, very quick and with great reflexes, but he lacks strength. Then, he’s lefty, and many of the exercises start or finish on his backhand. He also likes to volley, and it’s not quite productive with his actual height.

    But you have to anticipate the result at the end of the road. His technique is excellent — he didn’t develop any peculiarity — and his approach, his mindset, is the right one. What’s most important — you really have to beat him in a match. He had a set and a break in the semi he lost (he served for the match and was very deceived to lose), against an older boy, but without enough stamina, he lost 15 of the last twenty points, and the match in the super TB. I expected him to do well, but I was impressed how he didn’t lose his head, how he used the CC shots wisely, and how he didn’t deviate from his philosophy of aggressive, net oriented tennis. I was very proud.

    Now, about predictions. I can’t really make them. In the long run, I believed that 4K would be the next no 1. He’s clever, with a well rounded game, and he is much stronger than Zverev, who has the same height. But it’s his second injury, and he isn’t 20 yet. It doesn’t bode well for him. 2K has no return of serve. It’s a Tsonga “deja vu all over again”. But Jo made a slam final, three semis, and 2K could eventually win a slam. Like Cilic did. Thiem — I don’t really know.

    Among the older generation — Dimitrov is a potential number one. But he needs a good coach, a Spaniard, someone that will learn him to play with a plan, simple tennis like Robredo or Ferrer, to make an effective use of his versatile game. Even Federer plays a simple, but strategically effective game. Dimitrov is fast, strong, tall, with a lot of options on the court, and it just looks too messy.

    Nishikori is spent. Too many injuries already. Second rate serve. He has a great BH, an excellent FH, but lately top players are denying him angles, the way they did to Davydenko when they discovered his peculiar weakness — an inability to play from the middle of the baseline. He will probably remain a top ten player, but I don’t expect anything much from him.

    I liked Paire and Chardy, among French players. Unfortunately, it could be a bit too late for them.

    The young Americans… Nothing new, there too. The “big serve, big FH” is not a question of surface and philosophy of tennis, it was the easiest way to have results at 14, 16. Tennis is a business, and coaches depend a lot on the results of their protégés. It’s the easiest way. A coach like Pilic with a different approach, who worked with Becker, Stich, Djokovic, Gulbis, recently had problems with his Academy. Tennis is a business first, and young players pay for that.

    On the top, I guess that Nadal will be back in the mix, although I don’t see him beat a Novak at his best. Rafa is simply unable to think on the court, to adapt on the spot. He was in great shape this fall, but nonetheless, he lost easily against Novak twice, against a nervous Fed once, and the match against Stan showed his changed mindset. There’s no recovery when you start doubting.

    The schedule will be dense, next year, and it will be impossible to play at his best the whole season. Novak peaked three times this year: at the AO, at WB, and at Shanghai. He should skip some tournaments: MC, Madrid, Toronto, if he wants to wins slams. It will be very difficult. Fed, imho, made a good decision, focusing on WB, the OG and the USO. Murray has problems he can’t fix, and he never could — in fact, he was very lucky to win two slams and the OG: he faced tired opponents, usually on a home court. He will need such a kind of luck to win a third.

    Here, some explanations: his second serve is a liability. We all know that. But his FH is a problem too. While Federer, Djokovic hit a FH in avg at 75-80 mph, Andy hits his at 65-70 mph. He has to hit it flat to be effective enough. And in long matches, when he’s tired, he just starts missing those shots. Just look how Fed destroyed him at the AO 2010, or watch the fourth sets he played against Novak since 2014 (USO, AO).

    Finally, to quote master Oogway: “the past his history, the future is mystery… ” We won’t know until it happens.


    1. Do you reside in Serbia? You might’ve already told me this. Sounds like you are pretty involved with the tennis “business,” which has to be pretty exciting given how big the sport is there. That’s like baseball or American football here.

      My son will get back to lessons soon as I would like him to play actively in two sports (so soccer and tennis). I play with him now once or twice a week. He obviously has much work to do technically, but I like to encourage him to chase, to hit with purpose, to think competitively about the rally as it helps him play better. Playing aggressive, smart, win-oriented sport is the only way to play in my book. Like I told my team of eight-year-olds when I coached my son’s soccer team: we would huddle before the game, hands together and on three: “Winning isn’t everything, but it’s a lot more fun!” Pretending that winning is not important, for me, is foolish. A winning game plan will encourage more success which translates to more fun, more longevity. But winning isn’t everything. So we cover that.

      I agree with you generally on a lot of the prediction stuff you brought-up. Referring to your Chardy and Paire points. I like their games a lot, but Iike you say they’re not very young. This might continue to be the big progression of the sport that crosses paths with the level of the game discussion (is tennis better, etc.). Players are playing longer and levels are not dropping off into the 30s. That’s definitely a progression. So maybe the players that emerge are veterans, are players in their late 20s and 30s as the new stars. Seems counter-intuitive, but who will be the Paire of 2016? Remember, from the summer through the fall he was spectacular.

      Nadal’s best chance I suspect is AO or FO (though he has had so little success at the AO, really). Turning-in another 2013 seems just impossible at this point. He played well in the fall, but his HC game just doesn’t work against these younger, stronger athletes. I suspect he will make a big run at his 10th FO. So, look for him to try to find confidence early, and make a run on the clay. Novak will be tough to beat at the FO.

      I’m with you on Murray too. What gives anyone confidence he can break through again at a major?

      Will be interesting to see how the OG play into players’ scheduling, when to peak, etc. Seems like a tall task, but the Golden Slam is here and now for Novak. Again, seems like quite a tall task. If he wins the FO, he might not peak at WB. That’s a tough double. Throw the OG in there and this could be quite an interesting year.

      Thanks again for the tennis intelligence and generosity, Mat.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s