Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

The year in sport 2018: Tennis

Posted on 31 December 2018 by Connor Woolley

Comebacks, breakthroughs and controversies, tennis has had it all in 2018.

The Sports Gazette looks back on the year by ranking the six biggest talking points.

1. Serena Williams angered by umpire during US open final

Undoubtedly the main talking point of 2018, the US Open final between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka was marred by controversy.

Williams, angered by decisions against her, accused umpire Carlos Ramos of being sexist.

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The reason was because Williams had supposedly received coaching earlier in the match and was docked a point — followed by a game — for her reaction.

At the time, some backed Williams and supported her stance on sexism. Others, however, saw it differently. They claimed she was being selfish and used sexism to cover her own faults.

2. Novak Djokovic’s comeback and return to world number one

After an elbow injury forced him out of the game for six months, Novak Djokovic has achieved one of the greatest comebacks and turnarounds in a single season of tennis ever.

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Djokovic’s sluggish performance against Hyeon Chung early in the season was clearly down to his elbow issue and in late January he underwent surgery.

It was clearly the right decision to make as he won Wimbledon and the US open, moving him up an incredible 21 places in the world rankings to reclaim the world number one spot.

3. Naomi Osaka’s breakthrough year

Osaka has risen a massive 63 places in the WTA rankings this year, from 68th to fifth. She has won two trophies — the Indian Wells and US Open — and matched her previous bests at both the French Open and Wimbledon.

Unfortunately her US Open win won’t be remembered for the sublime tennis Osaka played throughout the tournament.

Nevertheless, she is the first ever Japanese player to win a grand slam after she seemingly out-playing Williams in the final.

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Osaka’s year has ended poorly though. Three straight defeats saw her knocked out of the WTA Finals at the round robin stage.

If she can pick up the form which propelled her to US Open victory going into 2019, the 21-year-old may just be the dominant force in women’s tennis for years to come.

4. Serena Williams’ comeback after childbirth

After reaching the US open and Wimbledon finals, it’s easy to forget that Williams had been out of action for 14 months on maternity leave.

Even though she had complications with the birth, it was always going to be a question of when and not if Williams would come back.

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She has competed in two major grand slams this year and finished second in both — an underachievement, even in the circumstances, for her high standards.

Although she did not win anything this year, she has made astonishing progress in a very short space of time. Her two Grand Slam final losses will no doubt fuel her desire heading into the New Year.

5. Croatia’s Davis Cup triumph and the rise of Borna Coric

After the FIFA World Cup final loss, this moment was bittersweet for the Croatians, who got their revenge on the French in tennis form.

Borna Coric, 22, played an important part in the team this year. Individually he has had an impressive year by breaking into the world top 20 rankings — he is currently 12th on the list.

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The highlight of the year for Coric was his win at Halle, where saw off Roger Federer to the title.

He also reached the fourth round of the US Open, the furthest he has been in a grand slam. A young player with plenty of potential, 2019 could be a big year for Coric.

6. Wimbledon announce quad events for 2019

It has been a long time coming, but Wimbledon finally announced there will be quad wheelchair tennis at the tournament in 2019.

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This is great news for the sport, with three of the four Grand Slam tournaments now holding quad wheelchair singles and doubles tournaments.

Featured photograph/Pixabay/HeungSoon