Team HEAD: A year in review

What a year 2022 was for HEAD! Players who use Head racquets have had great success in a year which saw a report that showed statistically that HEAD has been the most successful racquet brand in men’s tennis over the past decade.

Highlighting the brand’s stellar 2022 season were:

Novak Djokovic … the 35-year-old Serb made headlines across the world, setting a phenomenally high standard in a truncated schedule. He won a 21st Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, and ended the year winning his fifth title of the year at the ATP Finals. Given that he was unable to play the Australian Open, the US Open and four Masters-1000s in North America, and couldn’t count his ranking points from Wimbledon, his achievement in finishing the year fifth in the rankings is remarkable. And it leaves one wondering what he would have done on a full schedule.

Ashleigh Barty … it’s easy to forget that the year began on one of the highest notes for Australian tennis – a first Australian Open singles title for the host nation for 44 years when the immensely popular Ash Barty won her home Slam. Weeks later, Barty shocked the sporting world by announcing her retirement at the age of 25 while clear world No 1. It left a massive gap in women’s tennis which has still not been fully filled.

Coco Gauff … still a teenager, the superbly eloquent Floridian has improved step by step, and took a massive leap forward by reaching her first Grand Slam singles final at Roland Garros. She was consistent enough to qualify for her first year-ending WTA Championships, ending the year ranked seventh, having been the youngest player to be ranked inside the WTA top 10 since 2006. With Jessica Pegula she formed the year’s third-best women’s doubles pair, and Gauff topped the doubles rankings as an 18-year-old.

Andrey Rublev … it was another impressively consistent year for the 25-year-old Muscovite, picking up four titles and maintaining his place in the world’s top 10 for all but two weeks of the year. He reached the quarter-finals of the French and US Opens (he was not allowed to compete at Wimbledon because of the ban on Russians entering Great Britain), and ended the year reaching the semis at the ATP Finals.

Taylor Fritz … the dynamic Californian began the year at a career-high ranking of 23 and ended it inside the top 10, having won three titles: Indian Wells (his first Masters-1000), Eastbourne and Tokyo. He qualified as first reserve for the ATP Finals and reached the semi-finals, where he was only stopped by a rampant Novak Djokovic.

Jannik Sinner … it would have been easy for Sinner to have fallen back a little after surging into the top 10 as a teenager in a highly successful 2021. But the 21-year-old Italian, who grew up with HEAD skis and now plays with Head racquets, consolidated his gains by picking up a sixth career title, and reached three Grand Slam quarter-finals, finishing the year at a highly creditable 15.

Matteo Berrettini … a good year for the 26-year-old Italian, but it could have been so much better without two pieces of rotten luck. Having reached six in the rankings after a semi-final showing at the Australian Open, he missed three months for an operation on his right hand. He bounced back to win back-to-back grasscourt titles in Stuttgart and London Queen’s, which made him a frontline favourite for Wimbledon, but he picked up Covid and had to withdraw on day 1. Despite this, he reached the finals in Gstaad and Napoli, and was a quarter-finalist at the US Open, finishing 16th in the year-end rankings.

Marin Cilic … at 34, Cilic proved that being the father of two young boys has not dampened his will to compete at the highest level. He reached the semi-finals of the French Open, and followed up with a semi-final showing at London Queen’s. But he picked up the same strain of Covid that afflicted Matteo Berrettini and could not compete at Wimbledon. A final in Tel Aviv later in the year allowed him to break back into the top 15, and he finishes the year ranked 17th.

Barbora Krejcikova … together with Katerina Siniakova, Krejcikova and her follow Czech were once again the year’s outstanding doubles pair, going unbeaten in the majors. They won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open, and were thwarted at Roland Garros when Krejcikova tested positive for Covid on the eve of the tournament. Not as good a year as 2021 in singles for the all-court game of the 26-year-old, but she still picked up two titles late in the year to finish at 21 in the singles rankings.

Lorenzo Musetti … the 20-year-old Italian has long been considered an exciting prospect, but in 2022 he took some significant steps to justify his immense promise. The biggest was in beating Carlos Alcaraz in the final of the ATP-500 tournament in Hamburg in one of the ATP’s five best matches of the tour year. He also won Naples later in the season, and finished 2022 at a career-high ranking of 23. Look out for him in the future.

Neal Skupski & Wesley Koolhof … the British-Dutch pair only teamed up at the start of the year, yet gelled instantly as a team. They won their first two tournaments, and ended the year as the number one doubles team, winning seven titles, including three Masters-1000s.

Marcelo Arevalo … one of the most moving stories of the year was El Salvador claiming its first main draw Grand Slam title, thanks to Marcelo Arevalo’s French Open triumph in the men’s doubles with Jean-Julien Roger. In fact it was the first Grand Slam title for any player from mainland Central America. Arevalo and Rojer looked out of the final, and saved three match points in the second set, before winning in three. An emotional Arevalo said after the match that he hopes to use his success to attract more Salvadoran kids to tennis and thereby steer them away from the dangers of falling into criminal gangs.

Matt Ebden …. The 34-year-old Australian was a top-40 player in singles four years ago, and in 2022 he became a Grand Slam doubles champion. He and his compatriot Max Purcell reached an all-Aussie final of the men’s doubles at the Australian Open, but then picked up their first major at Wimbledon, beating the top seeds Mektic and Pavic on a fifth set tiebreak, with Ebden serving an ace on championship point. It was the fifth five-setter the pair had played in the tournament.

Sam Schröder … the Dutch quad wheelchair player reached the world No 1 singles ranking in February after a highly symbolic victory over the Australian legend Dylan Alcott in the Australian Open final. It was their fifth major final facing each other and Alcott’s last match before retirement. After that, Schröder held the top spot for much of 2022 with a second major title of the year at Wimbledon (his third major in total). He was also the doubles champion at Roland-Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open, and spent the whole of the year ranked 1.

These were the main standout names of HEAD’s 2022 season, but there were many more. Who knows what would have happened if Alexander Zverev hadn’t turned his ankle in a marathon semi-final against Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, a run that took the German to second in the rankings. Another Roland Garros semi-finalist was the Italian left-hander Martina Trevisan. China has had great success in women’s tennis, but now it has a male player to have made it into the top 100, Zhang Zhizhen, a 26-year-old from Shanghai. In doubles, Nikola Mektic won another five men’s titles and finished the year as fourth-best pair with Mate Pavic. And in team tennis, Jil Teichmann was a member of the victorious Swiss team that won the Billie Jean Cup, Switzerland’s first-ever women’s team tennis title.

In the juniors, 17-year-old Gilles Arnaud Bailly became the first Belgian to be the world junior champion, capturing the year-end No 1 ranking following a consistent year that saw him finish runner-up at the French and US Opens. And in wheelchair tennis, another Belgian Joachim Gérard was also a model of consistency, winning five tournaments to finish once again in the world’s top five.