Here, we look at ten candidates who could finally win their first slam in 2018 and beyond.
2018 should finally be the year in which the Bulgarian wins his maiden major. Having triumphed at the ATP World Tour Finals last November, it seemed to be a breakthrough moment. The 26-year-old, who was nicknamed ‘Baby Fed’ in his formative years, is approaching his prime and has all the talent.
It’s perhaps the perennial question which has been directed at the Aussie ever since his fine win over Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014. Now, with a bit more maturity on his side, off-the-court issues behind him and an improvement in behaviour on it, the 22-year-old has a shot at Grand Slam glory given the ability he possesses.
The German has already grown into a big star and is widely tipped to take over Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s mantle. Aged just 20, he rose to World No3 at the end of 2017 but still hasn’t quite yet cut it in majors yet. He exited the Australian Open at the third-round hurdle but has the game to beat anyone.
The fun-loving American has cemented his berth inside the ATP World Tour’s top 10 and with momentum and luck on his side, cannot be ruled out. His win in Paris last year was a huge deal and he’s generally a plucky performer. Big forehand makes him a threat, potentially at the US Open.
The Belgian earned victories over Nadal and Federer in London at the end of last season and he is a growing force on the circuit, with consistency from the baseline and new-found belief he can mix it with the best. Should have a run on his favoured clay at the French Open and definitely has enough to nick a major or two.
Technically one of the best player’s around, the Austrian seems to be mastering his schedule now and not over-playing, which will be crucial if he is to go deep at the Grand Slams. Has beaten the heralded big four on more than one occasion and expect him to have a go at Roland Garros, the tournament in which he reached the semi-finals last year.
The 31-year-old is experiencing an Indian Summer in a career which is only really blossoming now. With a powerful serve and big groundstrokes, he is especially a threat on the grass of Wimbledon and has the ability to play lights out tennis on fast surfaces. Run to US Open final last year evidence he can play on best stage.
No one expected the Brit to reach the semi-finals in Melbourne last month but he was rewarded for a strong off-season in which he tweaked his serve. The 23-year-old will have plenty of home support at Wimbledon and with doubts over Andy Murray’s long-term fitness, the crowd there could carry him far at SW19.
He may be the oldest player in this top 10 at 32 and while the Czech has been written-off by many, his displays at the Australian Open were strong and you still get an inkling that he may have one last run in him. Has enjoyed a stellar career but failure to win a slam is big red mark against his name.
A similar case to Anderson, the big-serving powerhouse has a chance at Wimbledon to do damage on grass and seems to be improving as the years go on. A player no one likes to see in their section, the 30-year-old is cool and calm under pressure when it counts.
Former world number one Serena Williams said she felt on the “right track” despite a crushing loss in her long-awaited comeback to tennis on Sunday playing alongside big sister Venus in a Fed Cup dead rubber.
The duo, who have combined to win 22 doubles titles, were outgunned by the unheralded Dutch pairing of Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs who were playing in their first ever outing together.
The Williams lost 6-2, 6-3 with 36-year-old Serena appearing particularly slow on her feet and poor in her shot selection after more than a year away from the sport.
But she was determined to put on a brave face after the loss took some of the shine off the Americans’ otherwise decisive 3-1 win that booked their place in the next round against France in April.
“It felt really good to be back the court. I’ve been training and it was just exciting to be out there,” she said.
“I honestly feel better than I thought I was gonna feel, I feel like I didn’t expect to play you know like that for me. So I feel like that I’m on the right track.”
It was Serena’s first competitive match since winning her 23rd major at the 2017 Australian Open.
The American star took time away from the sport to give birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia and get married, to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Both were in attendance over the weekend, seated just behind the players’ box.
Serena had previously said that her path back had been full of “ups and downs”, crediting Venus with helping her regain her rhythm.
On Sunday she was happy with the power behind her shots even if her accuracy wasn’t quite where it should be.
“I didn’t expect to have that much power on my serves,” she said. “Even though they didn’t go in, it’s just the start, I feel like that’s a very good step in the right direction.”
And she hinted she needed to juggle the demands of motherhood against her career better.
“I didn’t manage my time well,” she said. “This is literally my first time travelling with the baby and everything so I’m gonna try to do better.”
There had been speculation Serena may drop out of Sunday’s doubles match, after she did not turn up for practice in the morning with the three other US players.
But team captain Kathy Rinaldi confirmed her participation after Venus won her singles match against Richel Hogenkamp to seal overall victory for the US.
“Serena’s gonna be joining her sister Venus!” she announced, to roars of approval before Williams appeared dressed in a white top, dark blue shorts topped off with a red headband.
The Americans had enjoyed enormous support all weekend from the sold-out 5,200-capacity crowd in the mountainous city of Asheville, North Carolina, famous for its historic architecture, breweries and vibrant art scene.
The dead-rubber was supposed to be the feel-good, icing on the cake, but the Dutch players had other ideas.
“To play the two Williams sisters, it’s amazing because we won the match,” said Kerkhove, 26.
“We knew it just 30 minutes before the match. We just both gave it our all and we just had nothing to lose.”
The Dutch players’ ability to soak up the pressure was all the more remarkable given that Schuurs, the younger of the pair, was just six-years-old when Serena won her first major tournament.
Venus’ participation meant there was no room for Lauren Davis, the US’ fourth player.
The seven-time Grand Slam winner, who enjoyed a renaissance year in 2017, earlier shook off a scratchy start to prevail 7-5, 6-1 in her singles match, ensuring the US could continue their defence of the title.
Ahead of the tie, Serena had refused to be drawn on her Grand Slam hopes for the year.
She had initially targeted last month’s Australian Open and a defence of her 2017 title but struggled during an exhibition match against Jelena Ostapenko in Abu Dhabi in December, forcing her to revise her plans.
But she hinted Sunday she could make herself available for selection for the US’ next round clash in France in April.
“I think ultimately it’s up to Kathy, she has a plenty of players to chose from,” she said, referring to team captain Kathy Rinaldi. “So many Americans are
doing great, hopefully I’ll be able to be an option, I’ll be doing better by then,” she said.
Serena Williams has spoken out about the “ups and downs” she faced during her year away from competitive tennis but insists she’s now focused and ready for her quest to once more dominate her sport.
Speaking ahead of her comeback at the Fed Cup in Asheville, North Carolina, where the United States begns the defence of its crown against an unfancied Netherlands team on Saturday, the 36-year-old said she had the benefit of a new outlook following the birth of her baby daughter Alexis Olympia in September.
“There’s been a lot of ups and downs in the practice,” Williams told reporters. “It also gives me another view, it’s almost relaxing for me as I have nothing to prove. Again, just fighting against all odds to be out there again, to be competing again.”
Some of that struggle was apparent during an exhibition match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi in December, where she lost to French Open Champion Jelena Ostapenko.
Williams shared sets with Ostapenko before losing a super tiebreaker and appeared a little slow on her feet, even as she played some fine shots.
She had initially targeted last month’s Australian Open crown for a defence of her 2017 crown, but abandoned that goal after declaring she was not “where I personally want to be.”
Perhaps wary of setting another ambitious target, Williams refused to be drawn on whether she had set her sights on the year’s remaining Grand Slams – the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.
For now, she appears to be easing her way in and was not named as the United States’ first or second singles player in a powerful US team that includes elder sister Venus, world number 17 CoCo Vandeweghe and world number 62 Lauren Davis.
That means she isn’t scheduled to play in either of the singles matches on Saturday which are followed by reverse singles on Sunday, but will instead play in a doubles tie with team-mate Davis against Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs.
US captain Kathy Rinaldi did not rule out a change on the second day.
“As far as the lineup, we have the lineup set for tomorrow, then of course we’ll wait and see how tomorrow goes, then we’ll make our adjustments, if any,” she said.
Serena boasts a strong Fed Cup record, with a 13-0 singles mark that includes winning 26 out of her 28 sets as well as a 3-1 doubles record.
Williams’ comeback run comes as another titan of the sport — Roger Federer — is enjoying a late-career resurgence, also aged 36.
With three singles Slam titles over the past two years, Federer is now intent on reclaiming his world number one ranking, and becoming the oldest man to do so.
“Roger Federer is a really great tennis player,” Williams said of the Swiss great.
“I don’t know any tennis player that has not been inspired by him. I definitely have. Yeah, just trekking on, we keep doing the same thing.”
While Williams is bidding to emulate Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong and Kim Clijsters in winning a Grand Slam title after having a child, she acknowledged the path had not been straightforward and credited her sister with making it possible.
“I have a great partner and relationship with Venus. She’s been really, really positive,” she said.
“There’s moments that have just been hard, getting back out there doing it every day. You have to get used to that, get in the rhythm of that.”
Also credited for a newfound sense of zen was her family life with baby Alexis and husband Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit whom she wed in November.
“It’s probably been the most fun of my life,” she said.
And though she insists she has nothing left to prove, one professional goal eludes her – Margaret Court’s all-time record for Slam singles titles of 24.
“It goes unsaid 25 is obviously something that I would love, but I’d hate to limit myself,” she joked.