After a thrilling 2015 tennis season on both the men's and women's tours, we have a moment to catch our breath and look into the future. Will Serena maintain her WTA dominance? And will Andy Murray's momentum continue into the 2016 Slam season? Our experts weigh in on these issues and more.
Andy Murray will parlay his Davis Cup championship into at least one Grand Slam title in 2016.
Bodo: False. Winning the Davis Cup in 2010 was clearly a springboard for Novak Djokovic's three-Slam performance in 2011. The thing is, Andy Murray is not Djokovic, and he's not at a comparable stage of his career. The problem for Murray is he isn't the superior player at any of the majors, partly because he's a better three-set than five-set performer. Barring a major, unexpected upset or two at a Grand Slam event, Murray simply isn't consistently good enough to hammer his way through to the championship.
Garber: True. It's been a while since he won his two previous majors -- the 2012 US Open and 2013 Wimbledon -- but as his Davis Cup triumphs prove, he can still find the fire. Next year, he'll put a lot less energy into Davis Cup and more into the Grand Slams. I don't think it's a stretch to see him winning either Wimbledon or the US Open again.
Isaacson: True. It's as good a time as any, since Murray is physically fit, had as consistent a 2015 season as he ever has, and is riding some pretty decent momentum. He said he's gunning for the two Slam titles he hasn't yet won -- the Australian and French Opens -- and he was close in both in 2015, losing to Novak Djokovic twice (in the finals in Melbourne and semis in Paris). Fatherhood (in February) could inspire him. If he doesn't win one in 2016, it will be a disappointment for the world No. 2.
Novak Djokovic will win at least three of the big five events in 2016 (including the Olympics).
Bodo: True. Now that Djokovic has 10 majors, he'll be super motivated to catch Rafael Nadal's 14 and perhaps even Roger Federer's record 17. Time is on the 28-year-old Djokovic's side. Federer is 34. Nadal struggled through 2015 and didn't even make a major semifinal. Djokovic is 21-9 against his true generational rival, Murray, having prevailed in nine of their past 10 matches. And Djokovic is an overpowering 19-4 against two-time Slam winner Stan Wawrinka. Three of the big five events of 2016 will be on hard courts, including the Rio Olympics. Djokovic could win them all -- and more.
Garber: False. The past three times a man has won three of the four majors (Roger Federer in 2007, Rafael Nadal in 2010 and Djokovic in 2011), he followed that up by reaching three Grand Slam singles finals the following year -- and winning only one. The triple-Slam effort simply takes too much out of the body and mind. The Olympics make this one interesting; I can see a scenario in which Murray, Nadal and a surprise mystery guest (Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov?) win three of the five big titles.
Isaacson: False. I want to say true, merely because of how much he looked to want payback after reluctantly playing the evil role to Fed's good in September's US Open final. I also want to say yes because he was so dominant in 2015. But if the Open showed us anything, it's that even Djokovic can be vulnerable at times, and with the Olympics thrown in, it's tough to imagine he will have the mental and physical stamina to pull off three of the big five.
Rafael Nadal is more likely than Roger Federer to win a Grand Slam in 2016.
Bodo: False. No disrespect to Nadal who's been down on his luck, but in 2015, he left Federer all alone on the "Stop Djokovic" bandwagon. Throw in Nadal's nagging health issues, ranging over time from bad knees to a sore back to a bad elbow to a bad wrist, and it's obvious his two priorities for the new year will be finding -- and maintaining -- his vanished consistency and remaining healthy. Sure, he could win the French Open for a 10th time, but based on what we saw in 2015, he will have enough trouble doing that -- never mind any of the other majors.
Garber: True. It was terrific to see Federer get the finals at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Barclays in London. But at age 34, he just doesn't have the stuff to take down an in-form Djokovic. Rafa had some pep in his step in London, and even though he failed to win a major for the first time in 11 years, he will rebound with his 10th French Open title next spring.
Isaacson: True. This is not to say that either Rafa or Fed will win a Slam in 2016; I don't think they will. But Nadal may be slightly more likely, if only because as much as 2015 seemed to signal the beginning of the end, he is not looking presently like a man who wants to retire very soon. He reached the finals in Beijing and Basel, beat Wawrinka and Murray in the ATP Finals round-robin, and is much healthier than he has been recently. A Slam in '16 is not inconceivable.
Serena Williams will end 2016 as the world No. 1.
Bodo: True. Serena Williams is due for a big letdown after her spectacular 2015. So what? The rest of her WTA peers amply demonstrated that none of them has the chops, or the game, to step in and dominate. That means Serena could have an off year and still end up No. 1. Her most dangerous challenger at the moment appears to be No. 3 Garbine Muguruza. But it's not at all certain that the 22-year-old has the consistency to play at an elite level week in, week out.
Garber: True. At the moment, Serena is nearly 3,900 points ahead of the No. 2-ranked Simona Halep. Even if she takes a predictable step backward from her wondrous 2015 season, Serena has enough of a cushion to stay at No. 1.
Isaacson: True. Virtually every time we count her out, she surprises us, and as far away from tennis as she seems to be right now, Serena still has the capability to hold onto that ranking, if nothing else. She has plenty of points to defend next year, but she also has a huge head start on the rest of the pack.
Venus Williams will finish 2016 in the top 10.
Bodo: True. Venus Williams had a great 2015, finishing No. 7. Expect more of the same in 2016. She's 35, but that's not an overwhelming handicap in today's game. The grind is easier for her to bear as long as her sister Serena is around. The two love playing doubles together. And the Olympics mean a lot to both Williams sisters. That will motivate Venus in the early part of 2016 because staying in the top eight will guarantee her critical seeding advantages. Her health could be the determining factor in her status.
Garber: False. While it was great to see Venus go 41-13 this year, win three titles and $2.4 million, and finish at No. 7, there are a handful of far younger players lurking just behind her. Karolina Pliskova, Timea Bacsinszky, Carla Suarez Navarro, Belinda Bencic and Madison Keys would love to vault over Venus. Plus, Caroline Wozniacki -- outside the top 15 for the first time in eight years -- is due for a better season.
Isaacson: True. This is a tough one because Venus popped back into the top 10 in 2015 for the first time in four years. It was no fluke in a year made up mostly of bad draws -- she was in Serena's half in every major -- and Venus finished the year with two titles in the China swing, and her best overall season since 2007. Even with the Karolina Pliskovas and Timea Bacsinszkys of women's tennis bearing down on the top 10, there is room for a motivated Venus to hang in.