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An Ode to 1989: Where Tennis Meets Swift(ness)

Unless, you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that Taylor Swift’s newest album, 1989, was the best selling record of 2014. Inspired by the year of Swift’s birth, 1989 also gave us a few tennis stars as well. Let’s count five players to watch in 2015, all of whom were born in 1989.

Author’s Note: I tried to profile “1989 players born in 1989,” but there weren’t enough.

Victoria Azarenka

Photo: Christopher Levy

Photo: Christopher Levy

Born: July 31, 1989

The most successful of the bunch, the former No. 1 has been shaking off foot and leg injuries that kept her off the court for most of 2014. She started this season with an unfortunate loss 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-4 loss to Karolina Pliskova, meaning the Belorussian will be unseeded at the major tournament she won in back-to-back years (2012, 2013). Yet, every loss cloud has its silver lining, and she’ll be aiming for a strong comeback next week.

Plus, it’s always nice to have history on your side:

Agnieszka Radwanska

Born: March 6, 1989

The perennial “Fan Favorite” is poised to make 2015 her year, and tell her most heartbreaking Grand Slam disappointments, “We are never ever ever getting back together.” At the end of last year, she hired Martina Navratilova, tennis legend (and champagne supernova), in the hopes that a fresh perspective will help her towards the top. The 2012 Wimbledon finalist’s first match of the season went well, as she quickly beat regional fan favorite Casey Dellacqua, 6-2 6-3. Winning matches like these more efficiently are essential for the Pole, who often suffers from fatigue in the late stages of the Slams.

Put simply: we’ve got a blank space (for a grand slam winner), and we’ll write your name (if you win)!

Yanina Wickmayer 

Born: October 20, 1989

The 2010 Auckland winner began the 2015 season at the scene of former success, but suffered a tough 7-5, 3-6, 6-0 loss against rising American star, Taylor Townsend. Just four years ago, she was ranked at a career high of No. 12, largely thanks to a dream run to the semifinals of the US Open the year before. Ever encumbered by physical and emotional issues, Wickmayer aspires to go “Back to December February (‘10) and change her own (tennis) life” and beyond.

Though her last two seasons have been abysmal, Wickmayer is set on repeating the success she had earlier in her career. There is some good news though: she is recently engaged! We wish her success on and off the court.

Benoit Paire

Born: May 8, 1989

One of two ATPers on this Taylor Swift-inspired list is the incredibly attractive (and good at tennis) player, Benoit Paire. Much like Azarenka, 2014 was not his year; a knee injury kept him out of many tournaments. His injuries and overall poor performances led him to drop out of the Top 100 for the first time since 2012. With the 2015 season kicking into gear, Paire is looking to right the ship and get back to his top form. His first match of the year was a loss to Andy Murray at Hopman Cup, but it shouldn’t dampen his spirit. The former World No. 24 has been working hard but noticeably playing hard as well.

But his recent Instagram posts present somebody on vacation rather than a player preparing for the upcoming tennis season.

As Taylor Swift might say, Paire “might stay out too late, but that’s just what people say. The haters gonna hate hate hate, but he’s just gonna shake it off.”

Or maybe just smash his racquet.

Kei Nishikori

Born: December 29, 1989

Nishikori had, by far, the best year of everyone on this list; 2014 was his banner year. Despite earlier injuries, he ended the year at a career high No. 5, making it to his first grand slam final along the way. The Japanese star is coming into 2015 gunning for his first major title and has said one of his main goals is to make all four grand slam semifinals. Nishikori is seeded at No. 2 in Brisbane, his first tournament of the season, where he’ll hope to get into fighting shape right before the Australian Open.

Much like Radwanska, Nishikori is coached by a tennis great, Michael Chang, and we can predict to see Nishikori in many more finals. However, this time, we’ll hopefully see him get the win.

Grand Slam title(s), you belong with Nishikori.

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