As ever, this year’s Wimbledon Championships provided a fortnight like only they know how: drama, laughs, tears, a sudden rise in global strawberry sales – and at the end of it all, two deserving champions, who showed the world what it means to play in one of sport’s most prestigious tournaments. Congratulations to both Mr Djokovic and Ms Kvitova.

Time now, though, to throw in another long-standing cliché. Yes, the near unbeatable Serb and the Czech dark horse emerged as victors in their respective draws, but for me, tennis was the real winner after the last two weeks. The seven year Federer-Nadal reign has been overthrown and the Williams’ oligopoly, it would seem, is no more. Tennis has awakened in an exciting new era, both in the men’s and women’s tours.

Following Sunday’s conclusion, the top ten of each tour, to date, is as stands…

                    Men                                                              Women

  1. Novak Djokovic                                          Caroline Wozniacki
  2. Rafael Nadal                                                 Kim Clijsters
  3. Roger Federer                                             Vera Zvonareva
  4. Andy Murray                                               Victoria Azarenka
  5. Robin Soderling                                           Maria Sharapova
  6. David Ferrer                                                  Na Li
  7. Gael Monfils                                                   Petra Kvitova
  8. Mardy Fish                                                     Francesca Schiavone
  9. Tomas Berdych                                            Marion Bartoli
  10. Andy Roddick                                              Samantha Stosur

However, as the likes of Djokovic and Kvitova begin to shake up the rankings, I predict the world of tennis may look a tad different come the end of next year’s championships. So, once again, for you the reader’s very own delight, I present my latest sporting predictions, as I count down the top-5-to-be come this time next summer…

No. 5 – Men:  Juan Martin del Potro

After the injury-plagued campaign of 2010, the Argentine looks to be regaining the scintillating form that won him the 2009 US Open. Make no bones, the 22-year-old harbours a promising talent – and at that age, he has plenty of time to harness it.

No.5 – Women: Kim Clijsters

She’s a proven grand slam winner, but the only thing that may hold her back from the very top is the relative youth of her immediate rivals. She’ll be approaching 30 this time next year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s another slam in her, provided she stays clear of injury.

No.4 – Men: Roger Federer

There’s no doubting the great man’s ability, but it pains me to question his current mental strength. Losing in a slam, having been 2 sets to the good, is a first for him. Not only will this affect his own self-assurance, but crucially, that of future opponents.

No. 4 – Women: Victoria Azarenka

One of Wimbledon’s shining lights; the young Belarusian surely has a promising future ahead. She’ll likely cement her place among the new guard of women’s tennis – that’s provided her grunts don’t disqualify her for unsporting behaviour!

No.3 – Men: Andy Murray

Big call, I know. Can Murray really surpass the great Federer? In my rose-tinted spectacles, the signs look promising. The game is there, I just think he needs to embrace a champion’s mentality to be able to compete with the best – and the only way of doing that is winning a grand slam…

No. 3 – Women: Petra Kvitova

In time, she could become a great. Most notable after her Wimbledon triumph was the air of calmness with which she conducted herself while parading that famous plate. Perhaps she was born to lift more of those big shiny trophies.

No. 2 – Men: Rafael Nadal

For me, the Spaniard is still the most exciting player to watch on the tour. The shots he finds are near absurd, while his mental grit and determination – starting to see a pattern yet? – is the best I’ve seen on a tennis court. I still think he could topple Federer’s grand slam record.

No. 2 – Women: Caroline Wozniacki

Maybe her first grand slam will come in the next 12 months – she’s definitely good enough, but like Murray, the longer she goes without winning, the harder it may become. At just 20, though, she still has a few years to find the right formula. Her time at the true pinnacle will arrive.

No. 1 – Men – Novak Djokovic

I admit it; I could not see him beating Nadal. Even without considering his incredible unbeaten streak, he’s just going from strength to strength. What separates him from the rest is his all-round game, suited to beating most opponents – which we saw with Federer not long ago.

No. 1 – Women – Maria Sharapova

She’s back. And as always, she’s not going to leave without a fight. Her competitiveness is Nadal-esque and that will frighten the rest of the tour. Practically speaking, I think her height also lends itself to the incredible power behind every shot – and that might also frighten rivals!

Only time will tell, but the coming weeks and months on the tennis calendar could shape into the most hotly-contested on tour for some time. And that can only lead the sport in one direction.

Bring on Flushing Meadows!!!