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Kevin Anderson and Rafael Nadal © Gallo Images

Tennis: A year in review

As tennis seasons go, 2017 was one for the ages.

Serena Williams started the year off with a truly memorable win at the Australian Open – her 23rd grand slam title which she claimed while eight weeks pregnant with her daughter. She beat her sister, Venus, in the final.

Williams revealed news of her pregnancy a couple of months later after which she took a break to have her baby and marry her fiancé, Alexis Ohanian (the founder of Reddit).

The couple welcomed their daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, on September 1. The were married on November 16.

The 2017 Australian Open will be remembered for two things, however, the second being the return of the giants: the beginning of an epic comeback season for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The pair made the final in Oz, where Federer edged the Spaniard in five sets. It was only the beginning...

Roland Garros was up next and Nadal swept into the final and beat Stan Wawrinka to claim the title on his beloved clay courts. With Serena out of the way, the women’s draw was left wide open and it was first-time grand slam winner Jelena Ostapenko who announced her arrival as she defeated Simona Halep in three sets.

The evergreen Federer showed his victory in Australia was no fluke as he battled to the final at Wimbledon and thrashed an injured Marin Cilic in straight sets to claim his second grand slam title of the year.

Garbine Muguruza added to a second title to her grand slam tally as she claimed the women’s title at Wimbledon against a resurgent Venus Williams.

Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys contested the first final in grand slam history to feature two black players who are not the Williams sisters. Stephens won her first grand slam title when beat Keys 6-3, 6-0 to lift the title at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

In the men’s draw, Kevin Anderson took a giant stride forward for South African tennis when he reached the final where he came up against Nadal. The Spaniard was in particularly dominant form, however, as he completed a Nadal-Federer sweep of the slams.


Kevin Anderson’s serve has always been considered dangerous but his it was other bits of his game that could never come together at the right time. But 2017 saw the big South African make his breakthrough as he reached the US Open final, where he was beaten by Nadal.

It was a massive step forward for Anderson as he finished the year inside the top 15 on the world rankings.

Anderson ended the year with a bombshell – he announced he was ending his partnership with long-time coach Neville Godwin.

“After 4 years, coach Neville Godwin and I have decided to part ways. We remain great friends and it was simply a case of both of us looking for fresh challenges. We have hit great heights together, such as a top 10 ranking and a Grand Slam final, and I will be forever grateful. I wish Neville the best of luck and hope he wins ATP coach of the year as it would be much deserved,” Anderson said in a statement.

Godwin was named ATP Coach of the Year. Anderson is yet to announce a replacement.


Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray missed much of the 2017 season, paving the way for Nadal and Federer to clean up at the grand slams and other big tournaments.

Djokovic was ruled out of the rest of the season in July after aggravating an elbow injury. Djokovic was forced to pull out of his Wimbledon quarterfinal against Thomas Berdych due to the injury.

“I will take this time to heal and do all the different suggested methods of rehabilitation and healing processes so I can get back on the court as soon as possible,” Djokovic said. “It will take a couple of months at least without a racket and I hope after that I can start to train. I’m looking forward to building my body and my game and my team.”

Murray had trouble with a recurrent hip injury which put paid to his challenge at Wimbledon as well.

“Having consulted with a number of leading hip specialists over the last week, along with my own team, we have decided that this is the best decision for my long-term future,” Murray announced in a Facebook post.

“Although this has been a frustrating year on court for many reasons, I’m confident after this extended period of rest and rehabilitation that I will be able to reach my best level again and be competing for Grand Slam titles next season.”


France claimed a tense Davis Cup final 3-2 after the tie was extended to the final rubber. It was Lucas Pouille who claimed the decisive point as he beat Belgium’s Steve Darcis 6-3, 6-1. 6-0 in the final in front of a passionate Lille crowd.

"There's nothing better than winning as a team, with my mates, in front of the fans, my family and my friends," Pouille said in a post-tie television interview.

"We're going to celebrate and make the most of it. I'm proud of my team."

South Africa, meanwhile, secured promotion into Euro/Africa Group 1 after beating Denmark away in their final tie of the year.

In the Fed Cup, the United States edges Belarus to claim the 2017 title in a hard-fought tie. It was Coco Vandeweghe who won all her matches and proved to be the key for the United States as Sloane Stephens fell flat in the team competition.


Next season will see the return of Serena Williams, Djokovic and Murray and a test of Federer and Nadal’s resolve after their return to the top. Will Serena return to dominate the game once again or have Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza made themselves at home at the top of the rankings?

South African fans will be watching Kevin Anderson closely as he chases the top 10 in the new year.

It should be a blast.


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