Tennis 2015 review: Big two dominate whilst Brits make history
Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams almost completed the clean sweep in 2015. (Source: USA Today)

So as we near the final few hours of the year and with it the beginning of the new tennis season, but let's take a moment to reflect on the year that has been. There have been thrills, spills and moments of madness, and although the grand slam finals may have flattered to deceive, the season has produced many great memories. 

Will anyone ever stop Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic? 

So rarely in tennis has both the ATP and the WTA produced two champions so utterly dominant, but in 2015 they did just that. In Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, the two captured six of the eight grand slams available, not to mention a healthy smattering of Masters and WTA Premier Events, and came so close to both completing the grand slam.  Had it not been for an inspired Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final, or a stunning Roberta Vinci performance, we would likely be looking at two grand slam holders.

Djokovic has been utterly dominant this year (Source: CNN)
Djokovic has been utterly dominant this year (Source: CNN)

But, it is perhaps in Djokovic we can be most impressed, going from a steady member of the 'big four' in men's tennis, to now so dominantly ahead of Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal that the term seems redundant.  Time after time, final after final, he brushed aside his nearest rivals, including to love in the final set of the Australian Open final against Murray. 

Ending the year with a 93% winning record, and a buldging trophy cabinet, the Djokovic 2015 season may have to go down as one of the greatest of all-time and it would not be unfair to consider him as equal to Federer.  Should he capture that elusive French Open in 2016, it would be impossible not to consider him as such. 

Serena Williams, meanwhile, continued her near monopoly over her nearest rivals in the WTA, strolling to three grand slams with ease and finishing the year over 3500 points ahead of second placed Simona Halep.  Named by numerous outlets, including Sports Illustrated, as their athlete of the year, it is almost inconceivable for one woman to dominate one sport for so long. 

Will anyone be able to stop more dominance from the pair next year? Right now, it looks unlikely.

Rafa Nadal struggles, Stan Wawrinka succeeds, Eugenie Bouchard tumbles and Flavia Pennetta achieves the impossible 

Not many would have expected that by the end of August, most would be looking at Rafael Nadal as a player gone by, a past champion whose best days were long gone.  It was true, the Spaniard had long suffered during the year, with shock defeats to Alexandr Dolgopolov, Fabio Fognini and even Fernando Verdasco suggesting the once imperious Nadal was now firmly vulnerable. 

However, in an act of true grit and determination - would we expect anything less from him? - Nadal ended the year back inside the top five and having defeated Murray, Wawrinka and reached several finals on the end of season swing.  He now heads into the new year fully invigorated and a dark horse to usurp Djokovic as the number one. 

One man who has struggled less this year, although he has suffered from typical inconsistency, has been Stan Wawrinka, who now looks a happy member of the new 'big five'.  The only man to stop Djokovic from claiming the grand slam, he produced a thrilling performance in the French Open final to totally blow away the Serb.  Utterly unplayable on his day, on others utterly uninterested, the Swiss will be disappointed to have failed to capitalised elsewhere. 

Over to the WTA, and perhaps the stand out player outwith the big names was Flavia Pennetta, the little heralded Italian who could. Entering the US Open, you would have gotten long odds for her leaving New York as a grand slam champion.  And yet she did, defeating Serena's conqueror Vinci in the first ever all-Italian final.  Retiring shortly after her triumph and engaged to the ever enigmatic Fognini, her story lit up the year. 

Flavia Pennetta produced one of the shocks of the year (Source: USA Today)
Flavia Pennetta produced one of the shocks of the year (Source: USA Today)

But, for every triumph within the WTA, there was also struggle, seen no more so than in Eugenie Bouchard, the player who less than two years ago looked destined to become a grand slam champion, now finds herself floundering just within the top fifty.  Perhaps the hype of her 2014 was too much, but Bouchard continually struggled throughout the year, with her season including first round losses at Wimbledon to Ying-Ying Duan, the French Open to Kristina Mladenovic and in Toronto to Belinda Bencic - all the more painful with Bencic now usurping her as one of the most talented youngsters on tour.  

Bouchard still has plenty of ability, fight and determination, but she will need a big 2016 to prevent her falling into obscurity.  

British success is found in unity

But what of the Brits? So often reliant on Andy Murray, he ended the year as the world number two for the first time, however he failed to win a grand slam and was routinely dominated by Novak Djokovic in their meetings.  Capturing the Rogers Cup, Madrid Open and and Queen's, he still had a stellar individual year. 

And there was a pleasant surprise, with Johanna Konta's incredible winning run during the summer only matched by her fourth round appearance at the US Open.  Appearing from the shadows, Konta firmly established herself as the British number one, and provided solace when her fellow countrywomen continue to struggle.  

However, British success was not truly in the individuals but rather in the teams, with the Davis Cup team roaring to the title for the first time since 1936 led by both Andy and Jamie Murray.  

The Brits success is in the Davis Cup was matched by the brilliant Czechs who won the Fed Cup.  

The British team hold the Davis Cup trophy. From left to right, Jamie Murray, James Ward, Leon Smith (Captain), Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund (Source: The Guardian)
The British team hold the Davis Cup trophy. From left to right, Jamie Murray, James Ward, Leon Smith (Captain), Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund (Source: The Guardian)

Winning every single one of his rubbers during the year, including in the deciding rubber against David Goffin in the final, he was just one of the major players in a brilliant team effort.  

With the emergence of Kyle Edmund, the aforementioned Konta and the likes of Jamie Murray becoming consistent grand slam performers, the year was one of the best for British tennis in recent memory. It was not without its problems, with the LTA coming under scrutiny from the Murrays and company, but the year should go down as one of success for British tennis.  

Thanks for tuning into VAVEL for 2015.  We wish you and your loved ones a Happy New Year and look forward to the new season. 

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