Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017 Expert Panel ATP Predictions

For the third year in a row, the ATP World Tour Expert Panel Predictions are back on the Second Serb with two new panelists and four returners, including 2016 runner-up Joey Hanf.

Here are the full picks by the six panelists for the 2017 season on the ATP: ATP Expert Panel Predictions

2017 ATP Year-End Top 100 Predictions

Kevin Craig and I are going head-to-head for the second year in a row, predicting the year-end top 100 in the ATP. Kevin won handily last year. Here are our predictions:

Rank Kevin Craig Jared Pine
1 Novak Djokovic Novak Djokovic
2 Milos Raonic Andy Murray
3 Roger Federer Milos Raonic
4 Andy Murray Kei Nishikori
5 Stan Wawrinka Rafael Nadal
6 Nick Kyrgios Dominic Thiem
7 Lucas Pouille Marin Cilic
8 Dominic Thiem Nick Kyrgios
9 Kei Nishikori Grigor Dimitrov
10 Juan Martin del Potro Jack Sock
11 Marin Cilic Stan Wawrinka
12 Rafael Nadal David Goffin
13 Alex Zverev Tomas Berdcyh
14 Jack Sock Roger Federer
15 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Lucas Pouille
16 Grigor Dimitrov Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
17 David Goffin Alexander Zverev
18 Gael Monfils Bernard Tomic
19 Tomas Berdych Steve Johnson
20 Bernard Tomic Roberto Bautista Agut
21 Steve Johnson John Isner
22 Roberto Bautista Agut Gael Monfils
23 Sam Querrey Pablo Carreno Busta
24 Pablo Carreno Busta Ricahrd Gasquet
25 David Ferrer Borna Coric
26 Borna Coric Pablo Cuevas
27 John Isner Albert Ramos
28 Richard Gasquet Viktor Troicki
29 Kyle Edmund Kyle Edmund
30 Karen Khachanov Andrey Kuznetsov
31 Jiri Vesely Karen Khachanov
32 Federico Delbonis Jiri Vesely
33 Martin Klizan Gilles Simon
34 Mischa Zverev Martin Klizan
35 Pablo Cuevas Juan Martin del Potro
36 Fernando Verdasco Taylor Fritz
37 Joao Sousa Diego Schwartzman
38 Fabio Fognini Sam Querrey
39 Gilles Simon Kevin Anderson
40 Marcos Baghdatis David Ferrer
41 Gilles Muller Gerald Melzer
42 Feliciano Lopez Jeremy Chardy
43 Kevin Anderson Benoit Paire
44 Nicolas Almagro Daniel Evans
45 Ivo Karlovic Joao Sousa
46 Alex Dolgopolov Hyeon Chung
47 Taylor Fritz Alexandr Dolgopolov
48 Hyeon Chung Adam Pavlasek
49 Thomaz Bellucci Renzo Olivo
50 Albert Ramos-Vinolas Jordan Thompson
51 Viktor Troicki Philipp Kohlschreiber
52 Ryan Harrison Pierre-Hugues Herbert
53 Facundo Bagnis Gilles Muller
54 Marcel Granollers Marcel Granollers
55 Guido Pella Nicolas Almagro
56 Jeremy Chardy Facundo Bagnis
57 Donald Young Guido Pella
58 Juan Monaco Adrian Mannarino
59 Nicolas Mahut Jan-Lennard Struff
60 Daniil Medvedev Damir Dzumhur
61 Jordan Thompson Dusan Lajovic
62 Adam Pavlasek Ricardas Berankis
63 Dustin Brown Gastao Elias
64 Andrey Kuznetsov Ryan Harrison
65 Frances Tiafoe Mischa Zverev
66 Tommy Robredo John Millman
67 Vasek Pospisil Florian Mayer
68 Pierre-Hugues Herbert Nikoloz Basilashvili
69 Diego Schwartzman Daniil Medvedev
70 Phillip Kohlschreiber Illya Marchenko
71 John Millman Ivo Karlovic
72 Robin Haase Fernando Verdasco
73 Stefan Kozlov Fabio Fognini
74 Denis Istomin Thomaz Bellucci
75 Reilly Opelka Yoshihito Nishioka
76 Adrian Mannarino Vasek Pospisil
77 Illya Marchenko Mikhail Kukushkin
78 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez Jared Donaldson
79 Paolo Lorenzi Malek Jaziri
80 Julien Benneteau Santiago Giraldo
81 Benoit Paire Frances Tiafoe
82 Jared Donaldson Feliciano Lopez
83 Andreas Seppi Marcos Baghdatis
84 Yoshihito Nishioka Andrey Rublev
85 Damir Dzumhur Elias Ymer
86 Jan-Lennard Struff Duckhee Lee
87 Mikhail Youzhny Bjorn Fratangelo
88 Daniel Evans Dustin Brown
89 Malek Jaziri Taro Daniel
90 Radek Stepanek Juan Monaco
91 Radu Albot Ernesto Escobedo
92 Denis Kudla Quentin Halys
93 Rajeev Ram Laslo Djere
94 Peter Polansky Noah Rubin
95 Lukas RosolStefan Kozlov
96 Stefanos Tsitsipas Michael Mmoh
97 Ernesto Escobedo James Duckworth
98 Jozef Kovalik Denis Shapovalov
99 Henri Laaksonen Andreas Seppi
100 Jerzy Janowicz Casper Ruud

If there was any doubt that it's hard to guess the top 100 in the world 52 weeks in advance, consider the fact that Kevin and I only have three picks in common: Novak Djokovic at No. 1, Kyle Edmund at No. 29, and Marcel Granollers at No. 54. Considering how far off some of the other predictions are, the fact that Edmund and Granollers are the same on both of our lists are more of a sign of coincidence than our combined tennis knowledge.

Kevin's bold predictions: Roger Federer at No. 3, Lucas Pouille at No. 7, and Reilly Opelka at No. 75.

Jared's bold predictions: Rafael Nadal at No. 5, Grigor Dimitrov at No. 9, and Gerald Melzer at No. 41.

Kevin's pessimistic picks: Kei Nishikori at No. 9, Rafael Nadal at No. 12, and Tomas Berdych at No. 19.

Jared's pessimistic picks: Roger Federer at No. 14, Gael Monfils at No. 22, and Juan Martin del Potro at No. 35.

Missing from Kevin's top 100: Gerald Melzer, Florian Mayer, and Nikoloz Basilashvili

Missing from Jared's top 100: Nicolas Mahut, Robin Haase, and Tommy Robredo

United States Top 10 Predictions

Rank Kevin Craig Jared Pine
1 Jack Sock (14) Jack Sock (10)
2 Steve Johnson (21) Steve Johnson (19)
3 Sam Querrey (23) John Isner (21)
4 John Isner (27) Taylor Fritz (36)
5 Taylor Fritz (47) Sam Querrey (38)
6 Ryan Harrison (52) Ryan Harrison (64)
7 Donald Young (57) Jared Donaldson (78)
8 Frances Tiafoe (65) Frances Tiafoe (81)
9 Stefan Kozlov (73) Bjorn Fratangelo (87)
10 Reilly Opelka (75) Ernesto Escobedo (91)

Opposite of last year, I'm the optimistic one for Sock, Johnson, and Isner, while Kevin has high hopes for Querrey, Harrison, and Young. Both of us are expecting good years from the players born in the final years of the 20th century.

Across the board, expectations for American tennis 2017 are higher than they have been in nearly a decade and its not without good reason. Kevin and I have different predictions about which Americans will have success in the next 52 weeks, but there is no doubt that this will be a good year for more than just a couple of players representing the stars and stripes.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Year-End Top 100 Predictions Revisited

Kevin Craig and I went head-to-head last year last year in predicting the year-end top 100 in the ATP and the top 10 among players from the United States. It was my fifth year predicting the top 100 and first time going head-to-head against Kevin.

Kevin thoroughly beat me overall. His predictions were off by an average of 33.5 spots with a median of 21 with three perfect predictions. I was off by an average of 34 and median of 24 without getting a single prediction correct.

I was doing well through the top nine, but once I picked Bernard Tomic to finish No. 10, there was no recovering. I also missed badly with Kevin Anderson and Aljaz Bedene. My good predictions were putting Martin Klizan at No. 32, Viktor Troicki at No. 25 and Federico Delbonis at No. 43.

The best pick by either of us was Kevin putting Diego Schwartzman perfectly at No. 52. He also correctly predicted Stan Wawrinka at No. 4 and Tomas Berdych at No. 10. Unfortunately, Kevin was a bit optimistic for Vasek Pospisil and Donald Young.

I got the better of Kevin in our predictions for United States tennis. My picks were off by an average of 25.3 spots, while Kevin was off by 35.9 spots. My lack of optimism for Isner, Sock and Young served me well. I also picked Ryan Harrison to finish No. 85 overall. I also had Querrey and Fratangelo just a little bit higher.

Kevin did well to predict Donaldson at No. 99 and Talor Fritz at No. 86. Those two players will be the future of American tennis and the fact that Kevin so accurately predicted them is good news, because it means they are living up to the hype. That wasn't the case for the so-called "lost boys."

In my five years of predicting the year-end top 100, this was my worst year. The first three years, my average margin of error was slightly above 31 all three years. In 2015, I had my best score ever of 25, so the score of 34 is a good indicator of the level of unpredictability in 2016. However, if you ask most tennis fans, 2016 was the worst year on the ATP from a fans' perspective in recent memory, proving that unpredictability is bad for the game.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Measuring Year-End Finals Dominance

Since the 1970 Masters Grand Prix, the ATP World Tour has wrapped up each season with a small tournament featuring the top players on the tour every year. The format of the tournament has changed slightly over the years, but the current format of the World Tour Finals is the most commonly used format.

As I've done with Grand Slams and with Masters Series 1000 events, I wanted to look at who are the best players in the tournament's history, comparing players from every generation by calculating the ranking points earned by players at the event based on the current ranking points system.

That means every round robin win is worth 200 points, every semifinal win is worth 400, and winning the championship match is worth 500. For the years with a normal bracket tournament, a quarterfinal finish is worth 200, semifinals worth 400, final worth 800 and a title is worth 1300. In 1970 and 1971, only two players advanced from the round robin stage, so there was no opportunity to earn the 400 points in the semifinal matches.

Before getting into the lists, here are a few records at the tournament.

Most consecutive appearances at the tournament: Federer (14)
-Longest active streak: Djokovic (10)
Most consecutive appearances in the final: Lendl (9)
-Longest active streak: Djokovic (5)
Most consecutive titles won: Djokovic (4)
-Longest active streak: Murray (1)
Most times reaching the tournament: Federer (14)
Most times reaching the final: Federer (10)
Most titles won: Federer (6)
Most years between first and last appearance: Connors (15)
Most years between first and last time reaching the final: Federer (12)
Most years between first and last title: Sampras (8)

Total Ranking Points Earned
1. Roger Federer 14,200
2. Ivan Lendl 11,900
3. Pete Sampras 9700
3. Boris Becker 9700
5. Novak Djokovic 9100
6. Ilie Nastase 6600
7. John McEnroe 6100
8. Andre Agassi 5500
9. Jimmy Connors 4700
10. Bjorn Borg 4600
11. Stefan Edberg 4300
12. Guillermo Vilas 3900
13. Lleyton Hewitt 3800
14. Andy Murray 3700
15. Rafael Nadal 3600
16. Stan Smith 3100
16. Nikolay Davydenko 3100
18. Mats Wilander 2400
18. Yevgeny Kafelnikov 2400
20. Carlos Moya 2200
21. Manuel Orantes 2100
22. Arthur Ashe 2000
23. Jim Courier 1800
23. David Ferrer 1800
25. David Nalbandian 1700
26. Vitas Gerulaitis 1600
26. Brian Gottfried 1600
26. Juan Martin del Potro 1600
26. Goran Ivanisevic 1600
26. Andy Roddick 1600
26. Michael Chang 1600
32. Michael Stich 1500
32. Alex Corretja 1500
32. Gustavo Kuerten 1500
35. Stan Wawrinka 1400

Ranking Points Earned per Tournament
1. Ilie Nastase 1320
2. Roger Federer 1014
3. Tom Okker 1000
4. Ivan Lendl 992
5. Lleyton Hewitt 950
6. Bjorn Borg 920
7. Novak Djokovic 910
8. Pete Sampras 882
8. Boris Becker 882
10. Vitas Gerulaitis 800

The obvious issue with going based ranking points per tournament is the advantage it gives to players who played in less tournaments such as Tom Okker who reached the final in the only year he played. The issue with going off of total points is that is that it gives an advantage to players for having longer careers. The best way to analyze dominance at the tournament is to find a balance of the two.

The best way to do that is to take the total ranking points earned but take away 130 points (10% of the amount of points for winning the title with one round robin loss) for each year playing in the tournament.

Total Ranking Points Adjusted
1. Roger Federer 12,380
2. Ivan Lendl 10,340
3. Pete Sampras 8270
3. Boris Becker 8270
5. Novak Djokovic 7800
6. Ilie Nastase 5950
7. John McEnroe 5060
8. Andre Agassi 4200
9. Bjorn Borg 3950
10. Lleyton Hewitt 3280
11. Jimmy Connors 3270
12. Stefan Edberg 3260
13. Guillermo Vilas 2860
14. Rafael Nadal 2690
15. Andy Murray 2660
16. Stan Smith 2580
17. Nikolay Davydenko 2450
18. Mats Wilander 1620
19. Arthur Ashe 1610
20. Carlos Moya 1550

This tournament serves as a unique test for greatness. In every other tournament, the best players don't play each other until the later rounds. That means that if a player doesn't feel 100 percent physically or doesn't like the conditions, they likely will never play against their rivals. However, in the year-end championships, playing against the top players is inevitable. This tournament is the only true test of who is the best of the best.

Lendl is someone that is underrated on most GOAT lists, but on these lists he does very well. On the flip side, Nadal and Connors are both surprisingly low on these lists. Becker and Sampras both had the exact same results at the tournament

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

France takes over as the top country on the ATP

For the last decade, Spain has dominated men's tennis with more representation at the top of the ATP than any other country, but in 2016, that domination came to an end. I've been forecasting the downfall of Spanish tennis for a while, but it has taken longer than expected and even now has only just begun and it began with France becoming the ATP's new best country.

Every few months I release my power rankings of the top tennis countries on the ATP based on a simple formula: the sum of ranking points earned in the last 52 weeks by all members of that country ranked inside the top 140. Why 140? I honestly don't have a good answer, but I'm stuck with it for the sake of consistency.

Ever since I started tracking these rankings in 2012, Spain has been the No. 1 country every time, while France and Serbia battled for a distant No. 2. However, as the Spanish stars have started to age, there haven't been any young Spaniards to take their place, leading to the predictable downfall of Spanish tennis.

Meanwhile, Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Great Britain's Andy Murray have split time dominating the ATP in 2016, while receiving very little support from their countrymen. Switzerland also took a hit with Roger Federer missing a large chunk of the 2016 season.

All of this left the door wide open for another country to grab the No. 1 position and France did so with its most impressive season since 2013. In the year-end rankings, France had four players in the top 20, including a couple surprises in the form of Gael Monfils and Lucas Pouille. They were joined by the reliably successful Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Overall, France placed 13 players inside the top 140 of the year-end rankings, which is the most since the end of the 2014 season. The United States actually led the world in players ranked inside the top 140 with 14, but John Isner was ranked No. 19, leading all Americans.

Here are the previous year-end rankings before this year.

No. 2012201320142015
1. Spain SpainSpain Spain
2.Serbia France France Serbia
3.FranceSerbia Switzerland France
4. SwitzerlandArgentina Serbia Switzerland
5. Argentina GermanyCzech Republic United States
6. United States United StatesUnited States Great Britain
7. GermanySwitzerland Germany Japan
8. Great BritainCzech RepublicCroatia Australia
9. Czech Republic RussiaJapanCzech Republic
10. ItalyGreat Britain Argentina Italy
11. Russia Canada CanadaCroatia
12. Croatia Italy Great Britain Argentina
13. JapanAustraliaAustralia Germany
14. Australia Poland Italy Belgium
15. Canada Croatia Bulgaria Canada
16.Belgium JapanRussiaRussia
17. Ukraine AustriaLatvia Ukraine
18. Netherlands NetherlandsColombia South Africa
19. Brazil Ukraine Ukraine Austria
20. Slovakia ColombiaAustria Slovakia

The countries that are well-represented in the top 100 such as Spain, France, United States, and Italy don't tend to jump around a lot on this list. Argentina is the exception to that, taking a major dip in 2014 and 2015 with the injury to Juan Martin del Potro mixed with the retirement of several players. On the other hand, countries like Great Britain, Switzerland and Japan bounce around on this list a lot because the success or failure of one player determines the ranking of the entire country. Latvia, Bulgaria, Belgium and South Africa are all extreme examples of that.

Here are the final rankings for the 2016 season.

1. France (18,100) - For the first time ever, France is No. 1 on this list, knocking off Spain with 13 players inside the top 140, but more importantly four players inside the top 20. The resurgence of Gael Monfils was the top story out of France in 2016 and it began with his run to the final in Monte Carlo, where he met fellow Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinals. The other big story was Lucas Pouille, who made the most of a lucky loser in Rome to catapult the best season of his career so far. Nicolas Mahut was another big story in French tennis with his improbably comeback after being ranked as low as No. 240 just three years ago. At age 34, Mahut won his fourth career title, had a winning record and finished the year inside the top 40. Stephane Robert and Paul Henri Mathieu also defied their age to put together very impressive 2016 seasons. It's still to be determined how long France can remain No. 1 since Pouille and Pierre-Hugues Herbert are the only Frenchmen inside the top 150 that are less than 27 years old right now. There don't seem to be any challengers on the horizon though, which will give France some time to let some of its young talent to develop before picking up the torch.

2. Spain (16,637) - It's only the beginning of what I've been forecasting as a massive downfall for Spanish tennis, which will struggle to simply stay in the top 20 on this list. The average age of the 12 Spaniards in the top 140 is more than 30 years, meaning that most of them will be retiring in the next five years and there is nobody to take their place. The Spaniards have shown that their downfall is taking longer than anticipated, which only means it will be more drastic when it finally hits. A lot of Spaniards are defying their age with the amount of success they had in 2016, but that is only delaying the inevitable. Spain might be No. 2 right now but it will be decades before we see Spain contend for No. 1 again.

3. Great Britain (14,739) - This is Great Britain's highest ranking since I began tracking this list and I'm willing to bet that it's the highest ranking since the ATP began using computer rankings in 1973. Andy Murray became the first Brit ever to become No. 1 in the World and unlike previous years, there were other Brits helping boost the nation's ranking. The 21-year old Kyle Edmund reached a career-high ranking of No. 40 in October and finished the year No. 45 with a 21-20 record. Daniel Evans also reached a career-high ranking this year and finished the season ranked No. 66.

4. Serbia (13,792) - To be No. 4 in the world as a country and have two grand slam titles is a great season for any country other than Serbia, which is actually at its lowest points total in two years. The tennis world grew accustomed to Djokovic's dominance and the year-end No. 1 ranking seemed like a foregone conclusion once he won Roland Garros. Djokovic went on to win Canada and reach the final of the US Open and the World Tour Finals, but by his standards, that was a slump. Djokovic won't regain the No. 1 ranking any time soon, but Serbia should be able to stay comfortably in the top four for a while.

5. United States (11,731) - If anyone is going to pass Serbia in the upcoming months, the United States would be a good candidate considering the wealth of young talent. Ivo Karlovic is proving right now that age isn't much of a factor for players with big serves, so John Isner and Sam Querrey will be fine for a while longer. Other than those two, nobody else has even reached their peak yet. The United States can only go up in 2017. At some point, the United States will pass Spain. The only question is if 2017 is the year that happens. I'm going to say yes.

6. Argentina (8796) - With Juan Martin del Potro back from injury, Argentina had a fantastic 2016 season. Federico Delbonis, Diego Schwartzman, and Facundo Bagnis showed off Argentina's depth. The rankings don't fully reflect the success of the Davis Cup champions, since both the Davis Cup and the Olympics no longer reward ranking points. However, the rankings always get it right with time, so Argentina could be in five digits not long from now.

7. Switzerland (8394) - It's weird to see Stan Wawrinka ranked ahead of Roger Federer. The US Open champion is the reason Switzerland is in the top 10 of this list. Federer missed a large chunk of the season, but Wawrinka didn't miss a beat. Hopefully both players can play to the best of their abilities at the same time in 2017.

8. Germany (7223) - Germany was once known for its depth, but that has all but disappeared. Alexander Zverev is already the German No. 1 at the age of 19. He is 14 years younger than any other German in the top 50. With Boris Becker ending his working relationship with Djokovic, it would be very interesting to see Becker in the Zverev camp in 2017.

9. Japan (6992) - Japan's youth is exciting, but it lacks depth. The efforts of Kei Nishikori are the main reason for Japan being No. 9 on this list. He is arguably the best player in the world when he is healthy. Even if he misses some big tournaments in 2017, he shouldn't have any issues staying in the top five of the rankings. Meanwhile, Yoshihito Nishioka and Taro Daniel can still improve their ranking a lot.

10. Croatia (6390) - The 2016 season was a special one for Croatia. Marin Cilic finished the year with a career-high ranking at No. 6. Ivo Karlovic didn't let age stop him. At 37 years old, he finished No. 20 in the world. On the other end of the spectrum, Borna Coric was the second youngest player in the top 50, finishing No. 48. This is Croatia's second top-10 finish in three years.

11. Canada (6358) - Milos Raonic had an incredible 2016 season, finishing with a career-high ranking of No. 3. Still, he only won one title all year. The Canadian is still struggling in the big moments. He reached his first grand slam final, but was never competitive in the the match. In his next chance against Murray, he squandered match points. Unfortunately, those will be the most memorable moments from his incredible 2016 campaign.

12. Australia (5856) - I thought the 2016 season would go better for Australia, but Bernard Tomic showed little improvement, Nick Kyrgios had a predictably unpredictable season, and Thanasi Kokkinakis missed the whole year with an injury.

13. Czech Republic (5695) - Jiri Vesely beat Djokovic in the biggest upset of the year, but it was a quiet year for the Czechs apart from that.

14. Russia (4860) - Karen Khachanov is the real deal. He is going to be good for a while. Roman Safiullin is healthy now too, so the future of Russian tennis is bright once again.

15. Austria (4143) - Dominic Thiem was one of the most fascinating players to watch in 2016. He played a packed schedule and racked up wins quickly. Everyone else wants to tell him how to schedule better, but I think he knows what he's doing better than anybody else, because it's working.

16. Belgium (3864)
17. Italy (3649)
18. Brazil (2549)
19. Bulgaria (2035)
20. Ukraine (2007)
21. Uruguay (1780)
22. Portugal (1705)
23. Slovenia (1444)
24. Luxembourg (1255)
25. Slovakia (1230)
26. Cyprus (1140)
27. Tunisia (814)
28. Netherlands (795)
29. Chinese Taipei (754)
30. South Africa (735)
31. Bosnia & Herzegovina (699)
32. Kazakhstan (634)
33. Colombia (632)
34. Lithuania (630)
35. Georgia (618)
36. Israel (616)
37. Moldova (614)
38. Dominican Republic (586)
39. Korea (571)
40. Uzbekistan (492)
41. Romania (457)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

How will the 2016 ATP season be remembered?

Every tennis season on the ATP World Tour is parked by unique characteristics. It could rivalries, matches, scandals or many other things. The 2016 season was marked by an accomplishment, but it may be a few years until fans, experts and commentators recognize this accomplishment as the defining moment of this season.

Right now, many people would say Andy Murray’s ascent to No. 1 in the world is defining accomplishment of this calendar year. It just seems right that all four members of the Big Four have reached the top of the tennis rankings. It’s fitting. It’s also the most recent big tennis story in our minds.

I think that with time, though, the perspective will change and the accomplishment that defines 2016 will be Novak Djokovic’s completion of the non-calendar Grand Slam, joining Don Budge and Rod Laver as the only players to win the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open consecutively.
Djokovic’s win in the final over the eventual year-end No. 1 completed what was without doubt the most dominant 12-most stretch of tennis in the history of the sport, because unlike Laver and Budge, Djokovic won the slam on three different surfaces. On top of that, he completed the slam at the only major he had never previously won.

Add to that what Djokovic had done outside the majors. He won five of the last nine ATP Masters Series 1000 events and reached the final at three others and he was in possession of the Year-End Finals trophy. In total, Djokovic had racked up a record 16,950 ranking points, which was more than the No. 2 and No. 3 players combined.

Certainly, Murray’s climb to No. 1 and the incredible return of Juan Martin del Potro will also be clear memories from the 2016 season. The defining moment, however, continues to be when Djokovic drew a heart on the Parisian clay and laughed in it while Gustavo Kuerten cheered with a smile from the stands. That was the moment that summarized the most dominant 12-month stretch of tennis that the sport had ever seen.

This was a moment that could have been and should have been one that transcended sports. It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally in sports, there is a moment so big that everyone stops to watch whether you are a fan of that sport or not.

These kinds of moments don’t happen often, but I can think of a few in my lifetime. It happened when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chased Babe Ruth’s home runs record. It happened when Tiger Woods won the 2008 US Open. It happened with Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It also happened at Super Bowl XLII when the Patriots tried to complete the perfect season.

Though to a smaller degree, there have been a couple of those moments in tennis when the sport transcended the entire sports world. Though some tennis fans may want to forget it, the Isner-Mahut match at Wimbledon did grab the attention of even non-tennis fans. Another was last year when Serena Williams went for the calendar year Grand Slam after having already won her second Serena Slam at Wimbledon. Murray becoming the first Brit to win Wimbledon in 2013 was another big one.

So why wasn’t Djokovic’s inspirational moment in Paris one that transcended tennis and showcased the sport to millions of people who wouldn’t otherwise tune into a tennis match? Some of it does have to do with Djokovic being overshadowed by Williams’ own non-calendar slam just 11 months before. Another reason was that to some degree, a Djokovic victory was expected and some people had become bored with Djokovic always dominating.

However, the main reason this moment didn’t get the recognition it deserved was because of lazy journalism. Rather than write about the history that was on the line for Djokovic, they decided to recycle old story lines, because that was easier to do.

Each of the previous three years, Djokovic arrived in Paris in search of the Roland Garros trophy. Three years in a row, he failed to win that trophy. Throughout 2014 and 2015, journalists basically renamed Roland Garros as “the elusive major” or “the one that eludes Djokovic.”

It was the same story line they had used with Andre Agassi and Roger Federer in previous years, so a copy-and-paste was enough to make a good story in 2014 and 2015. However, 2016 was different and should have been treated differently, but the sport’s most prominent writers stuck to old story lines, while the pursuit of the non-calendar Grand Slam was just an afterthought.

New York Times’ Christopher Clarey buried this paragraph more than halfway into a long preview for the 2016 Roland Garros final: Djokovic is not only trying to join the elite club of seven men who whave won all four Grand Slam singles titles. He is also trying to complete a so-called Djoker Slam by winning his fourth major in a row.

Compare that to how the New York Times previewed Roger Federer’s pursuit of the non-calendar Grand Slam in 2007, placing this paragraph prominently near the front of the match preview: This time, yet again, Federer has a chance to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once.

There are a few differences here beyond just where the paragraphed is placed in the article. First, there is no mention of Federer going for a Career Grand Slam followed by a mention of the non-calendar Grand Slam as if it were a secondary accomplishment. Second, the 2007 article gives the historical context for the achievement that Federer was one win away from,  pointing out that nobody had done it since Rod Laver.

And the New York Times wasn’t alone. All of the top-tier tennis journalists in the United States fell into this trap. Compare the way Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim covered the two events in the deck of his articles.

2007: Second-ranked Rafael Nadal defended his French Open title by continuing his domination of No. 1 Roger Federer and spoiling his rival’s Grand Slam bid

Notice: no distinction here between calendar and non-calendar, simply ‘Grand Slam.’

2016 before the match: The 11-time Grand Slam champion opens up about his love for the one major that has eluded him

2016 after the match: This was his 13th title on clay but Sunday’s win was obviously the biggest one and now we can discuss Djokovic without having to make mention of the French Open title that’s eluded him.

To begin with, nobody was making Wertheim use the word ‘eluded’ or ‘elusive’ repeatedly or any of his mentions to tennis demons and tennis karma surrounding Djokovic in Paris. Also, there is not even a mention of the non-calendar Grand Slam or anything slightly resembling an acknowledgement of the ultimate accomplishment in the sport.

Every journalist learns the inverted pyramid in their first year of studying journalism. What the inverted pyramid means is that journalists put what they consider to be the most important and attention-worthy information at the top of their story and less important information at the bottom. Nearly every single article about Djokovic’s triumph in Paris mentions “Djokovic completed the career Grand Slam” before saying “Djokovic has won four consecutive majors.”

But which one is more impressive? Djokovic is only one of three players to hold all four major titles at the same time, while eight different players have completed the Career Grand Slam. The obvious answer is that the Grand Slam, whether won in a calendar year or any other 12-month period is more impressive than winning all four majors at any point over the course of a career.

If tennis journalists had done their job correctly and included some mention of four in a row, the Djoker Slam (or whatever you want to call it) in the lead, then this piece of history wouldn’t have been so massively overlooked. No wonder television producers didn’t make any features on sports shows about Djokovic’s pursuit of history, when they had to dig through more than half of a New York Times article to even find out that history was on the line.

Wertheim and Clarey are easy to point to, because they are the two most note-worthy journalists in tennis in the United States, but they aren’t the only ones. In a big way, tennis journalists missed a massive opportunity to help the sport reach the general sports fan. That is, of course, the main way that we get our sport to grow outside of its niche.

We don’t know when the next opportunity will come where tennis has the chance to transcend the entire sports world, but when it does come, I’m going to be watching to see which journalists are covering the events correctly.