Let's go 2018! New Year, New Season
The new season has started with a bang!
In the first week of 2018 Gael Monfils won his first title in Doha at the fourth time of asking. In the entertaining but one sided final the French showman played against one of the NextGen stars, the 20 year old Russian, Andrey Rublev. Monfils rattled Rublev with his high quality offensive as well as defensive shots. Rublev had little success trying to hit through a very determined Frenchman.
"I'm very happy," said Monfils. "I like this tournament so much. I always come back and I finally got it. So I'm just very happy and very proud.It's been a while. I was waiting for that moment to get back in shape. In 2016, I was almost on my top and I had a very good year, finishing at No. 6. I couldn't really defend my chances in 2017. I had a long rest and came back strong in 2018, which was a goal. I wouldn't say I was expecting to win the first tournament, but I'm more than happy that I did.”
After a disappointing 2017 season, he made a fresh and a successful comeback in Qatar’s capital. The future looks bright for Gael as long as he can stay fit and focused in the weeks to come.
Meanwhile in Brisbane, the home favourite, Nick Kyrgios, won his first title on home soil defeating American Ryan Harrison in the final on Sunday, 6:4 6:2.
"I felt good all week. I felt right at home," Kyrgios told the crowd. "Every time I stepped out here you gave me such great support. I love playing in front of you guys even though sometimes it may not seem that way. But I do. I really appreciate it.”
Gilles Simon triumphed in Pune, India, where he won his first title since 2015. In the final he defeated the South African Kevin Anderson 7:6(4) 6:2.
"It was a great match, I think a great performance. I never beat Kevin before so to be able to beat him in the final is a great achievement for me," Simon said. "It’s so hard to feel comfortable against him because he has a huge serve and is really controlling the game, but I managed to stay calm on my side and to just play my game.”
Simon who finished last season outside Top 50, and started the week at no 89, will now move to no. 57 in the rankings. Nick Kyrgios’ win takes him back to the Top 20, at no. 17 while Gael Monfils lands at 39, thanks to his successful campaign in Doha.
Caroline Wozniacki’s demons from 2017 are back to hunt her again in the new season. Having lost 5 finals last years, she knows all too well how it feels to be a runner-up in a tennis tournament. Auckland wasn’t lucky for Caro either. She lost to Germany’s Julia Georges in straight sets 4:6 (4)6:7. Despite the loss, Caroline will move to no.2 in the newest WTA rankings.
Julia Georges proves to be in fine form as she wins her 14th match in a row, and her 3rd consecutive title. She may prove to be a tricky player for anyone who has to face her in the upcoming Australian Open.
Last year Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina won more title’s than any other player on WTA tour. In the beginning of 2018 she shows no signs of stopping. Currently ranked at no. 4 she will be a strong contender to the first major title of the year in Melbourne.
"I always been playing well in Brisbane, but two semifinals and never further," Svitolina said on the WTA Insider Podcast. "I was a little bit unlucky before. This time I was playing well. I had a tough draw but I'm very happy with the way I was handling the tough moments and the things I was working on in the off-season was really showing that I'm on the right path. I'm just really happy that I could win this week and play well.”
The world no. 1 Simona Halep started her season in Shenzhen, China. She played a solid tournament. In the final played indoors due to the weather conditions, she defeated Czech Republic’s Katerina Siniakova in 3 sets 6:1 2:6 6:0.
Halep looks to be in top shape, physically and mentally, and in the absence of many top players including the defending champion Serena Williams, and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, Halep, will be eyeing her chance for her first major title in Melbourne.