WTA Best Matches of 2013: 20-11

The countdown of my favourite WTA matches from 2013 begins here.  I have judged this list on matches I have watched over the year; the nice thing about this feature is that everyone will have a different opinion so I would really appreciate your thoughts over the next week or two.  Here is 20 to 11 with my top 10 countdown starting on Monday… Enjoy!

20. Maria Sharapova d. Ana Ivanovic, 7-5 4-6 6-4 (Stuttgart, QF)

Aside from the grass court tournaments, Stuttgart is my favourite WTA tournament so it would be wrong of me not to feature at least one match from this year’s tournament.  Granted, it wasn’t as fun as the 2012 edition, but I really enjoyed this quarter-final encounter between Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic.  The Serb went toe-to-toe with Maria for much of the match before predictably fading at the crucial stage in the third set.

19. Jelena Jankovic d. Sam Stosur, 3-6 6-3 6-4 (French Open, R3)

Whilst all the attention was on a Djokovic-Dimitrov dud on Philippe Chatrier and a truly epic match between Tommy Haas and John Isner on Court No.1, few eyes were focused on a cracking clay court tussle on the Suzanne Lenglen court between Jelena Jankovic and Sam Stosur.  The highlight was the third set as JJ just about hung on for the win, which helped her on the way to her best result at a Grand Slam since making the semi-finals of the 2010 French Open.

18. Sabine Lisicki d. Jelena Jankovic, 7-6(3) 7-5 (Stuttgart, R2)

Only Sabine Lisicki would sink to her knees after winning a second round match in  Stuttgart, but after a superb match with Jelena Jankovic, you couldn’t really blame her.  In front of a passionate home crowd, the passionate-themselves pair fought out two very tight sets of entertaining tennis.  The ending point was typical of many during the match; a brutal rally with both players having the upper hand at one point before Lisicki finished it off with a blazing winner.

17. Maria Kirilenko d. Sabine Lisicki, 5-7 6-1 7-6(1) (Pattaya City, F)

If ever there was a classic WTA match with the customary switch-ups in momentum then this final in Pattaya City between Maria Kirilenko and Sabine Lisicki was it.  Lisicki led 7-5 1-0*, then lost 9 straight games; Kirilenko had match points at 5-2* in the third set and Lisicki served for the match at 6-5*.  In the end, it was Kirilenko who prevailed to win her first title in nearly 5 years.  Although there was some epic nerves on show, this was a thoroughly entertaining final and at 2 hours and 27 minutes long, it was one of the most exciting of the entire year.

16. Agnieszka Radwanska d. Tsvetana Pironkova, 4-6 6-3 6-3 (Wimbledon, R4)

This is the first of five matches from Wimbledon, which is unsurprisingly featured heavily in my list since it was my favourite tournament of the year and I watched a lot of matches.  In a tennis world, dominated by heavy hitting and baseline-orientated rallies, this last 16 match between Agnieszka Radwanska and Tsvetana Pironkova was a breath of fresh air.  If Pironkova hadn’t been troubled with a right foot injury in the third set, this could have been a sensational match.

15. Angelique Kerber d. Caroline Wozniacki, 6-4 7-6(5) (Tokyo, SF)

After a moonball-epic in Indian Wells, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber meeting in the semi-finals of Tokyo.  However in one of my favourite WTA tournaments of the year, this match was a gem as the normally counter-punching pair went on the attack hitting a total of 65 winners to just 36 unforced errors in an incredibly high quality match.

14. Serena Williams d. Jelena Jankovic, 3-6 6-0 6-2 (Charleston, F)

Matches between Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic are always fun and this was by far the best of their three clashes in 2013.  Jankovic played a stunning first set, serving better than she ever had before.  However the turning point occurred at the start of the second set where the pair had a little tiff when Serena put her hand up whilst Jankovic was serving.  JJ lost her concentration and Serena raced to her 3rd of 11 titles in 2013.  Despite the one sided nature of the second and third sets, it was a thoroughly engaging match throughout.

13. Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Caroline Wozniacki, 6-2 2-6 7-5 (Australian Open, R4)

The Australian Open final certainly had the drama, but my favourite match from Melbourne in terms of quality was the 4th round match between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Caroline Wozniacki.  There were plenty of winners and unlike many of my favourite matches, it had an ending that went down to the wire in a stirring 75 minute third set.  Kuznetsova was good value for the win as she repeated her three set success over Wozniacki having beaten her the week before in Sydney.

12. Urszula Radwanska d. Venus Williams, 7-6(5) 6-7(7) 6-4 (French Open, R1)

The stats for this match were not exactly pretty, but I really enjoyed watching this match between Urszula Radwanska and Venus Williams.  I get frustrated when I hear people saying that Venus is going to tarnish all her achievements by playing on, because that is absolute rubbish.  She may have lost this match, but she put her heart on the line with a truly gutsy effort.  I loved all the net play in this match, which lasted an epic, 3 hours and 19 minutes.  It was one of Ula’s best ever performances, but it wiped her out for the next round where she ended up losing in straight sets to Dinah Pfizenmaier, a match she should have won.

11. Agnieszka Radwanska d. Li Na, 7-6(5) 4-6 6-2 (Wimbledon, QF)

I have never been a big fan of matches between Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na, but I have to give a heads up to this absorbing quarter-final, which was easily, the best encounter between the pair and the best of the four Wimbledon quarter-finals.  The first set was especially good, which Li could have rightfully won if she had challenged a first serve that was called out.  The conclusion of the match was even better as Li fought off 7 match points before a crafty Radwanska, with a rare feat of stunning winners, got her tired legs across the finishing line.

Next Monday – The countdown of my favourite WTA matches from 2013 continues with number 10.

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