The 2021 tennis season has been one of the most incredible and unpredictable years in recent memory, featuring repeat champions, emerging stars and surprise storylines that have thrilled tennis fans across the globe. Before the official conclusion of the season, the eight most accomplished men’s and women’s singles players took to the year-end ATP and WTA Finals to stake their claim for one of the most pivotal moments of the year.
Ultimately, Alexander Zverev and Garbine Muguruza emerged victorious with incredible runs in Turin, Italy and Guadalajara, Mexico respectively and cemented themselves as two of the sport’s biggest stars to watch ahead of 2022. Their titles should come as no surprise to fans in Tennis Paradise, as both Zverev and Muguruza have previously experienced deep runs in the desert that foreshadowed their superstar-style success that each are now experiencing.
For Zverev, his Nitto ATP Finals victory was the final stamp on the best season of his young career to-date, which also included an Olympic gold medal, two Masters 1000 titles, and a tour-best 59 wins throughout the year. In Turin, he downed World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in impressive straight set fashion, 6-4, 6-4 to capture his second-career ATP Finals trophy. To say the young German is primed for an even more significant 2022 would be an understatement, as he has made it clear that his sights are set on a “major” milestone he’s yet to accomplish.
While Zverev is missing only a Grand Slam title in order to have captured trophy across every significant level of tournament, there is another one of the sport’s most prestigious titles he’s yet to capture: the BNP Paribas Open. Zverev has come close, including this past October when he nearly advanced to the semifinals before falling to American Taylor Fritz in one of the 2021 tournament’s best matches. Those who have witnessed the German in Tennis Paradise know, it is likely only a matter of time before the incredibly talented superstar puts it all together in front of the knowledgeable crowds at the idyllic Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Will 2022 be the year that Zverev finally raises the Baccarat trophy? Fans in attendance in March will be there to find out.
While it has taken Garbine Muguruza a few more years than Zverev to reach the peak of her prowess, she is in the midst of realizing the full skillset that has long seen her as one of top contenders for any meaningful title. In Guadalajara, she became the first-ever Spaniard to win the WTA Finals with a triumphant 6-3, 7-5 victory over rising Estonian Anett Kontaveit.
Muguruza finished a dream 2021 season with the perfect capstone, as she won three titles in a year for the first time in her career, as well as reentering the top-10 for the first time since 2018 and finishing the season at World No. 3, her best ranking since 2017. Alongside all of those accomplishments, Muguruza ended the year by winning the biggest hardcourt title of her career at the first-ever WTA Finals hosted in Latin America.
At just 28-years-old, there is little doubt that she can continue to elevate her game into the 2022 season. While Muguruza is already a two-time Major champion (2017 Wimbledon, 2016 French Open), she has yet to lift the Baccarat trophy in front of the hundreds of thousands annually in attendance in Tennis Paradise. Her best career finishes in the desert came in 2019 and 2017, each of which saw her advance to the quarterfinals before bowing out to perennial contenders Bianca Andreescu and Karolina Pliskova respectively. Muguruza has all the tools to become to the next women’s champion in the desert, and tennis fans will be watching in March to see if the Spaniard can begin her 2022 season the same way she finished her 2021.