SERENA PULLS THE PLUG ON 2016 SEASON
For the second consecutive year, World #2 Serena Williams ended her annual tennis season without hitting a ball after falling in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, the last major of the year. WTA released figures today which indicate how much Serena is concentrating on the majors as she gets older:
2013: 82 matches, 78-4 record, won 11 titles.2014: 60 matches, 52-8 record, won 7 titles.2015: 56 matches, 53-3 record, won 5 titles.2016: 44 matches, 38-6 record, won 2 titles.What's amazing is that since she played so few matches in 2016, Serena should not have much trouble reclaiming the #1 ranking in 2017, a year in which I am convinced that she will win her 23rd major title, cementing her status as the greatest player of all time.
ANDY MURRAY WINS SHANGHAI MASTERS, SHRINKS GAP TO #1 RANKING
After World #1 Novak Djokovic self-destructed in his semifinal at the 2016 Shanghai Masters against Roberto Bautista Agut, losing his first match in China in nearly three years, World #2 Andy Murray seized the opportunity to win another Masters Shield, the 13th of his career, his 41st ATP tour title and 6th of 2016. Although Murray is now merely 915 points behind Djokovic for the race to #1 for the calendar year, he is still 2415 points behind the World #1 but intends to play 3 more tournaments this year. It's unclear how many tournaments Djokovic will play this year, but there are two big ones remaining: 2016 Paris Masters and the 2016 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
KYRGIOS RECEIVES SIGNIFICANT PUNISHMENT FOR TANKING IN SHANGHAI
Australian phenom Nick Kyrgios received an unprecedented 8 week-long ban from the tour (until January 15, 2017) today from the ATP in response to an execrable performance in the 2nd round of the Shanghai Masters against Mischa Zverev. They also gave the Australian an option to reduce the ban to just 3 weeks if he agrees to see a Psychologist, which he agreed to do. This means that Kyrgios will just be banned for the rest of the 2016 season, but his 2017 season will be unaffected.
THE WTA YEAR-END CHAMPIONSHIP FEATURES SEVERAL NEWBIES: PLISKOVA, KEYS, CIBULKOVA
The WTA year-end championship in Singapore is the most prestigious tournament of the year (apart from the Grand Slams). Last year the tournament was won by Agnieska Radwanska. This year there are several first-time qualifiers: 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova, 2014 Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova and American phenom Madison Keys. With Serena's withdrawal, #9 Johanna Konta shuld get the 8th slot, but she withdrew from playing this week due to an injury, so if either Svetlana Kuznetsova and Carla Suarez Navarro are able to win the title in Moscow this week, they would get the final slot.