Following my popular article last year, I will once again be giving my predictions for the Grand Slams next year for both the WTA and ATP tours. This article will focus on my ATP predictions, and I have already made my WTA predictions. For each tournament, I shall predict a winner and a two back-up contenders. These picks reflect players that I believe can actually win the title as opposed to players who are likely to go deep. This explains why many top players do not appear in these predictions.
2018 Final: (2) Roger Federer d. (6) Marin Cilic 6–2, 6–7(5–7), 6–3, 3–6, 6–1
Neither of last year’s finalists will be in the final. Federer has been quite disappointing (by his standards) since the Australian Open last year, and I would expect any of the top players in good form to beat him handily in the Grand Slams. As for Cilic, I believe he is very lucky to even have one Grand Slam title to his name and do not see any chance of him adding to this tally in 2019.
I also don’t think Rafael Nadal will be a contender to win here. The 14-time Grand Slam champion had a great 2018 season but his success was limited by injury as he was forced to retire at both the Australian and US Opens. However, I don’t think he can win in Melbourne. No player in the Open Era has won two of every Grand Slam and I do not believe that the Spaniard will break into this uncharted territory.
Unsurprisingly, my predicted champion is none other than World No.1 and six-time champion Novak Djokovic. His level in the Grand Slams is currently unmatched and he is capable of winning a 3rd consecutive Grand Slam without needing to play that well. This makes him a very credible pick to be the 2019 Australian Open champion.
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My back-up contenders, however, may surprise you. The first one is Alexander Zverev. Whilst people have been criticising Zverev’s performances in the Grand Slams, he has been making progress (unlike Elina Svitolina on the WTA Tour). At the end of 2017, he had yet to advance past the 4th Round at a Grand Slam or beat a Top 50 player over five sets. In 2018, he disposed both these dismal records. In addition, having just won the biggest title of his career at the ATP Finals, he could definitely win a Grand Slam in 2019. Therefore, he will be a contender in Melbourne.
My other back-up contender is Juan Martin Del Potro. Del Potro enjoyed arguably his most consistent season ever in 2018. He won his first Masters title at Indian Wells and reached his second US Open final (nine years after the first!), finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic. There were one again injury concerns as he missed the ATP Finals but these were happily put to bed after his recent Instagram post, where the Argentinian is hitting balls and alerting us of the “good news.” The results from 2018 have put the World No.5 in a good position to win a Grand Slam again and after a longer off-season than most of his rivals he should feel refreshed. Therefore, he will be a contender to win the Australian Open.
2018 Final: (1) Rafael Nadal d. (7) Dominic Thiem 6–4, 6–3, 6–2
This is usually the easiest Grand Slam to predict across both the ATP and WTA tours and this year is no different. Rafael Nadal will obviously be my predicted champion. The King of Clay has won 11 French Open titles and boasts a 86-2 win-loss record at the tournament. Having dropped just one set across the last two French Opens, stopping Nadal from claiming a 12th French Open title will be an almost impossible task.
The only way I think Nadal will not win the French Open is if there is a freak event, such as an injury. But as that may happen with a notoriously injury-prone player (although not as much on clay for some reason), there is a need to have a couple of back-up contenders. There are only two players that I need consider for this position.
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The first of the back-up contenders is Dominic Thiem. Last year’s finalist has established himself as a clay-court of specialist with the potential to be a future “Prince of Clay.” Eight of his 11 ATP titles have come on clay and in the last three French Opens, he has only been defeated by the eventual champion. I predict this to be the minimum he achieves at the French Open this year so if anything was to happen to Nadal he would be the favourite to win. Therefore, the Austrian is a credible contender.
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My other back-up contender is Novak Djokovic. The Serbian is the most well-rounded player on the ATP Tour and has been for most of this decade. In addition, he one of only three active French Open champions besides Nadal. The other two aren’t even in the French Open picture right now, since Federer has skipped the clay season since 2016 and Wawrinka is currently ranked No.66. Therefore, as for any Slam, Djokovic is a contender.
2018 Final: (12) Novak Djokovic d. (8) Kevin Anderson 6–2, 6–2, 7–6(7–3)
Novak Djokovic is definitely one of the players who I considered to be my predicted champion but in the end have only selected him as a back-up contender. One of Djokovic’s biggest flaws is complacency, which was rife during 2012-2014. The World No.1 only picked up one Slam in each of these three years despite playing much better tennis than anyone else in this period. When Djokovic gets too comfortable he often loses concentration due to complacency. This is what I expect to happen to the Serbian in 2019 as so his level of play won’t result in the appropriate results. Having said this, Djokovic has proved me wrong before so he still is a worthy contender.
Instead my predicted champion is Alexander Zverev. The German is gradually building up confidence over best-of-five set matches and coupled with the fact he has now won his first extremely significant title (ATP Finals) he is one to watch in the Slams in 2019. As Wimbledon is well into the season and grass matches his game well, I believe it is where the promising youngster breaks his Grand Slam duck.
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In addition, I don’t believe any of the other recent Wimbledon champions have a chance to re-capture the title, aiding Zverev’s cause. Federer is a seven-time Wimbledon champion but has not beaten a Top 20 seed in a Grand Slam since his Australian Open triumph. He has clearly been in a slump since splitting up with his long-time clothing sponsor Nike and I expect this to continue into 2019. Rafael Nadal made the Wimbledon semifinals last year but this was the first time he had got that far since 2011. Playing on grass is always a concern with him because of the potential impact it has on his knees. Therefore, he is also out of my running as a contender to win the title, although he could go deep. Home hope Andy Murray currently languishes outside the Top 250 in the rankings. Whilst I think 2019 will be a very successful comeback season for the Brit, I don’t think he will be able to lift any Grand Slam trophies in 2019.
As for last year’s finalist Kevin Anderson, he is definitely not a contender to win a Grand Slam in 2019. The South African is the best man of the ATP, always at the wedding but never the groom. If he makes the quarter-finals of Wimbledon next year, I would consider that a success.
Therefore, my other back-up contender is Juan Martin Del Potro. In 2018, he showed us that he has what it takes to contend for the biggest tournaments and can be competitive on all surfaces. With many potential threats unlikely to be in the running for the reasons I have stated above, the Argentinian is definitely a contender for the title.
2018 Final: (6) Novak Djokovic d. (3) Juan Martin Del Potro 6–3, 7–6(7–4), 6–3
In 2019, we could well see a repeat of this final but this time my predicted champion is Juan Martin Del Potro. After all the injury troubles this gentle giant has suffered, I believe he will finally get back into the Grand Slam winner’s circle at the 2019 US Open. He has slowly but surely rebuilt his career to get himself in the position to do so and the US Open is his most successful Slam, being the stage of both his previous Grand Slam final appearances.
Therefore, one of my back-up contenders is Novak Djokovic. Djokovic on the ATP Tour is like Serena on the WTA Tour to me in the sense that they are a contender to win any tournament they enter. Djokovic’s concentration often leaves him at the US Open as he lacks the mental stamina to focus at this time of year. This is seen by him only having 3 US Open titles, in spite of 11 semi-final appearances. His complacency has cost him in New York on numerous occasions and I predict 2019 to be the same. However, he is just too talented of a player to not be a contender for the title.
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Players that I don’t think will be a contender for this particular Slam are Federer and Zverev. Perhaps I have been too harsh on Federer but I just do not see him coming close to winning a Slam in 2019. However, he could still have a very good year and remain in the Top 5. As for Zverev, if my prediction about him winning Wimbledon is correct, I don’t think he would be making the latter stages of a Grand Slam just over a month after it.
My other back-up contender is Rafael Nadal. The US Open is the only Grand Slam besides the French Open that I believe the Spaniard is still capable of winning in his career. It is his second most successful major and the only other one where he has won since 2010. Whilst many players often get tired at this point of year, Nadal will be more ready than ever to pounce on such victims. Therefore, he is a contender to watch out for at the US Open.
So there you have it – these are my predictions for the Grand Slams on the ATP Tour in 2019. Besides the ATP Finals, I have not followed the ATP Tour since the US Open so am very interested in seeing what happens next season. Let me know your thoughts on my predictions and feel free to put your own predictions in the comments section!