Plenty to play for in 2021 season sunset

Grand Slam tennis may have culminated in a thrilling US Open, but the tennis calendar rolls on with significant titles still up for grabs.

Daniiil Medvedev US Open 2021©Garrett Elwood / USTA
 - Alex Sharp

The storylines of the US Open will live long in the memory, Daniil Medvedev and Emma Raducanu both making history in style. 

Now it’s time to look ahead.

Trips to the Far East are wiped off the agenda due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however key duels are due ahead of the season finales.

Top spot for Daniil?

US Open champion Medvedev is now within 1,400 ranking points of world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

The Russian halted the Serbian’s Calendar Grand Slam dream in ruthless fashion at Flushing Meadows. Could he also steal his crown?

Firstly, it depends when Djokovic returns to court. Secondly, Medvedev finished his 2020 with a stellar 10 match winning streak, lifting the Rolex Paris Masters title and then the ATP Finals trophy. 

It would be an almighty effort to defend both. Here is what the 25-year-old thinks. 

“I think honestly it's almost impossible,” admitted Medvedev.

“If we talk about schedule, what can I change? There is Indian Wells, there is Paris Bercy, Turin, and Vienna. Vienna is in the week of St. Petersburg. I'm definitely not going to play it. 

“Let's hope I win Indian Wells, Rolex Paris Masters and Turin. It's a tough challenge. I'm just happy to win a major. I'm going to do my best in every tournament I'm playing… If I manage to do it one day, it's great.”

Marquee move for Indian Wells 

Unfortunately Indian Wells, usually half of March’s ‘Sunshine Swing’ with the Miami Open, was cancelled in 2020.

This season, the ATP and WTA co-event returns, repositioned in the calendar from October 7-17. 

The world No.1 duo of Ash Barty and Djokovic are due to compete in the prestigious 1000 ranking points event. 2019 men’s champion Dominic Thiem will miss the tournament recovering from a right wrist injury. Fellow 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu is expected to feature. 

Prior to Indian Wells, the tour welcomes back WTA 500 events in Ostrava and Chicago, back-to-back from September 20. 

Former world No.1 Kim Clijsters has taken a wildcard into the Chicago event, set for her first competitive appearance since the 2020 US Open. Undergoing knee surgery and contracting Covid-19 has kept the four-time major winner out of action. 

Quartet to light up Milan

The NextGen ATP Finals has welcomed a plethora of stars now battling at the top of the rankings.

Spanish prodigy Carlos Alcaraz is among four players to qualify for the 2021 instalment of the 21-and-under tournament in early November.

Alcaraz, the youngest US Open quarter-finalist in the Open Era, is already joined in the field alongside 2019 champion Jannik Sinner, US Open semi-finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime and Sebastian Korda

Jenson Brooksby and Holger Rune, who both took a set off Djokovic at the US Open, are in contention to qualify, as well as hot shot sensation Lorenzo Musetti. 

New home for the elite

The season-ending finals are being re-housed this fall. 

The men’s 12-year stay in London has ended, with Turin the destination for the best eight singles and doubles pairings of 2021 from November 14-21. Reigning ATP Finals champion Medvedev, world No.1 Djokovic and 2019 winner Stefanos Tsitsipas have already qualified. 

2018 champion and Olympic gold medalist Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev (43-15 this season), Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini, Top 10 debutant Casper Ruud and Miami Masters winner Hubert Hurkacz are in pole position to complete the singles field.

Over to the WTA side, Guadalajara in Mexico will host the WTA Finals in the week commencing November 8. At present world No.1 Ash Barty leads the title charge, with three Roland-Garros champions in Barbora Krejcikova, Iga Swiatek and Garbine Muguruza in the prestigious eight slots.

Flying their flag 

It’s not just Tokyo 2020 where players could represent their country this season.

Following two postponements, the inaugural Billie Jean King Cup (previously named Fed Cup) will take place in the first week of November in Prague. 

It’s two years since France were hailed champions with a spectacular victory over Australia in Perth.

On the men’s side, national colours will be worn for the Davis Cup finals from November 25 until December 5. 

12 qualifiers from March’s play-offs comprise the field with the four semi-finalists from 2019 and two wild cards (France and Serbia) included too.

Six groups of three teams will vie for a semi-final ticket across three cities – Turin, Innsbruck and Madrid.

2019 champions Spain will hope to feature in the semi-finals and beyond, on home soil in Madrid.