2012 Crystal Ball

Novak Djokovic will keep his game, but change his hair. History tells us when players reach No. 1 they become more fashion conscious. Federer dropped the ponytail and beaded necklace; Nadal covered his biceps and exposed his knees. All image upgrades. Djokovic doesn’t have much to work with in terms of his lid – his hair looks like it’s packed down rather than cut – but he has reached the point of reinventing his current Q-Tip look. The thinking here is Novak dabbles with either a fauxhawk, a pompadour, or keeps his current do and adds a little frosting.

Serena Williams gets her own reality show. Twisted ankles, blood clots, vengeful umpires – tennis has become a chore for Serena, and she’s not pleased about it. She basically confessed to her love-hate relationship with the sport in a recent post-match presser. Problem is Serena’s got lots of bills to pay – hers and her people’s – and tennis is the meal ticket. Slinging trinkets and handbags on HSN won’t cut it, dating Brett Ratner didn’t lead to Rush Hour 8, and Nike isn’t endorsing her to work on her tan. So what’s left? Following the path of her (surprisingly) not-so-dumb Kardashian friend, who got a TV network to pay her $12 million for coverage of her contrived, sham wedding to a little-known, rube NBA rebounder. Not bad work if you can find it. Oh Common, what are you up to the next six months?

Andrea Petkovic gets a boyfriend and tanks in the rankings. The chatty and likeable Petkovic is constantly tweeting about her moribund love-life. She loses a match, thanks her fans for the support, and then announces she’s on the prowl. Come and get some of this Petko! or some such gibberish. Sometimes it’s cute; other times it sounds too much like a desperate divorcee. Finding Mr. Right (or Mr. Right Now) shouldn’t be a tough problem to solve – Petkovic is striking and supremely fit. So fit it looks like she could crack a coconut between her shoulder blades. The smart money is she finds another professional athlete who doesn’t mind her muscles and all the extracurricular happiness sends her game into the toilet.

Andy Roddick becomes a talking head.

It’s poor form to suggest an athlete should retire. If you could play in the toy department, you’d never want to leave, either. That said, 2011 kind of sucked for Roddick. His best showing at a Slam was a (helpless) quarterfinal shellacking at the U.S. Open courtesy of Nadal. Some players hang around into their 30’s collecting paychecks and hoping for that final glorious victory lap. Roddick doesn’t give that vibe. This month he, and somebody named, Bobby Bones, are starting a syndicated sports and pop culture radio show on Saturdays from noon to 3pm on Fox Sports Radio. Roddick gives opinionated and (often) salty interviews and should be comfortable with a microphone in his face. If 2012 looks anything like 2011, expect Roddick to take his game to another forum.

Martina Navratilova challenges Margaret Court to a steel-cage death match. The much anticipated Mayweather-Pacquiao of the tennis world. If Court wins, Martina renounces her homosexuality and starts dating Ashton Kutcher. If Martina wins, Court is forced to guest-star as Jane Lynch’s ex-lover on an episode of Glee before skulking back into her cave and waiting for the Rapture.

Jimmy Connors’s memoir, released this summer, will have the following revelations:

  • He tagged multiple Evert women.
  • Pancho Segura had sticky fingers.
  • Celebrated each of his Slam titles by having a steak sandwich and a can of Schlitz.
  • Loves to say he’s going to “Flushing Meadows” anytime he hits the bathroom.
  • His mother was little too much like Gillian Darmody from Boardwalk Empire.

During its Grand Slam coverage ESPN will start, and overuse, an incredibly irritating debate segment between the McEnroes. They’re brothers?!?! Really?!?! That’s fantastic. What are the odds? Let’s put them on broadcasts together so they can make the matches they cover totally irrelevant by regaling us with wonderfully inane inside jokes about their dad and Eliot Spitzer. Better yet, let’s put them across the table from each other and have them argue over which of John’s accomplishments are most impressive, and which ones would be broken by Tim Tebow.

Roger Federer continues to age gracefully, but misses out on winning another Grand Slam because of an overturned match point. For all his success, Federer has suffered an unusual amount of heartbreak. Probably more so than any other great player. Last year he squandered two-set leads at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open; the latter providing the further indignity of losing after having match points…against Djokovic…who Federer can’t stand. This year the only way to top that would be to get to match point at a Slam final, say a 5th-set tiebreaker at the U.S. Open, seemingly win it, but have the point challenged by his opponent (has to be Djokovic) and overturned. A few points later Federer will be questioning why he’s not doing the winner’s press conference, and whether there’s sense in the universe.

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