Decade 2020s

# An unprecedented season of the Open Era: due to Covid-19 the events are suspended for six months (between early March & late August) – after the revival, the calendar is slightly modified & the regular ATP ranking frozen; to the end of the season and at the beginning of the new one, almost all matches are played without spectators (!), while umpires, people in the stands and ball-kids wear face-masks during matches, Electronic Line Judge is used in several cities, players finish their matches with fist-bumps (or racquets’ touches) instead of hand-shakes
# First edition of the ATP Cup which replaces the Hopman Cup at the beginning of the season: the two best players of the previous decade (Novak Djokovic & Rafael Nadal) also here continue their titanic rivalry
# Roland Garros joins other Slams having a retractable roof on Centre Court
# Nadal wins a major for the 20th time tying Roger Federer‘s record, the Spaniard has no problem to play on slower courts at Roland Garros in a gloomy weather in September instead of May/June, he doesn’t even drop a set
# Federer is injured (right knee, two surgeries required) after the Australian Open and skips one of his favorite events in Dubai; six months later he’s reluctant to return to the tour in extraordinary conditions, Nadal does it four weeks later than other best players and it’s a crucial factor that he loses the poll position to his arch-rival Djokovic who overcomes Federer in number of weeks spent as the ranking leader
# The first two players born in the 21s Century are introduced to the broad elite: Felix Auger-Aliassime (b. 2000; first noticeable results a year before) & Jannik Sinner (b. 2001)
# Due to pandemic The Olympics in Tokyo is moved to 2021 while Wimbledon is not played
# Roger Federer comes back to the tour after a 13-month break, the Swiss superstar approaching 40th year of his life still produces magical tennis in Paris & London, but is unable to keep his body in great shape during the fortnight; playing tragically he loses in the Wimbledon quarterfinal and one year later he states it was his last professional match
# Novak Djokovic is only one win away to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969, capturing four majors within a season, but he wrongly estimates his physicality at the US Open (he did the same during the Olympics trying to play singles & mixed doubles, ultimately not winning a medal in any draw), and deflated loses 0-3 the final to Daniil Medvedev, who helps Russia to win two team competitions (ATP & Davis Cups); the Serb finishes the season as a leader for the record 7th time (surpassing Pete Sampras‘ six)
# Dominic Thiem, who looked like a potential new no. 1, is injured and doesn’t play ten months, after the comeback in April ’22 he loses seven straight matches
# Second year with Covid-19 (first with vaccines) and spectators are limited in the stands during many events, not every city wants to organize its another edition… after more than a decade in London, “Masters” is moved to Turin
# Back to normality after two Covid years and an important rule unification: the first season with super tie-breaks in all four Slams (!) – for the French Open it’s a novelty (tie-breaks in the deciders at other Slams obligated since: US Open ’70, Australian Open & Wimbledon ’19)
# Due to Covid-19 restrictions (vaccination required to travel), Novak Djokovic cannot play in two majors (Aus Open, US Open) – he’s the only Top 100 player reluctant to injection; despite it he finishes the season in the Top 10 giving the vibe he’s still the best in the world; he wins “Masters” for the 6th time, overcoming Pete Sampras & tying Roger Federer, two more natural indoors players, the Serb waited six years to do it
# Finally, after 19 years, someone outside the Big 4 advances to No. 1 – it’s Daniil Medvedev, who already in the second half of 2019 signalized it’d happen
# During fifth edition of the Laver Cup, Federer competes for the last time (quasi)seriously, he loses doubles alongside Rafael Nadal, and “Team Europe” is defeated for the first time by “Team World”… Federer finishes his career with 16-24 record vs Nadal (the Swiss won 6 of their last 7 matches) and 23-27 vs Djokovic (the Swiss initially led 7:2)
# It’s a year of Carlos Alcaraz: playing like a child of Federer & Nadal 😉 he becomes the youngest player in history (the first teenager) to finish the season as the best in the world! He’s amazing on clay and hardcourts (outdoors), on grass & indoors he doesn’t shine though… Alcaraz’s compatriot and mentor, 36 y.o. Nadal is the best in the first half of the season, but another injury prevents him from playing his normal tennis in the second half
# Due to political reasons players from Russia & Belarus take part in the ATP events under blank flags (they cannot play at Wimbledon), these two countries are suspended in the team competitions, Canada takes advantage of it winning ATP & Davis Cups
# The eternal record of the longest tie-break (eight times 20/18) is finally broken as Reilly Opelka defeats fellow US giant John Isner 7-6, 7-6(24/22) in Dallas… a few weeks later in Acapulco a new record of the latest finish is set (4:54 a.m.)… Laslo Djere loses 18 tie-breaks in a row, it’s a new infamous record (Robin Haase lost 17 in the years 2012-13)
# The first full season with off-court coaching (communication between players and coaches was allowed for the first time after Wimbledon ’22)
# “Masters 1000” novelty: Madrid and Rome switch to the enlarged formula, similar to the Indian Wells/Miami combo, so 96 draw and two weeks for each event
# Alexander Zverev comes back to the tour after a 7-month break caused by a terrible injury in the French Open semifinal
# Taylor Fritz vs Cameron Norrie it’s the first H2H which includes 4 team competitions, they do it in four consecutive matches actually (2022: ATP Cup, Davis Cup, Laver Cup; 2023: United Cup – a new event combining ATP & WTA)