WTA Best of 2016: Handshakes and Hugs

The off-season is here and this year, Moo’s Tennis Blog will be taking a look back at some of the highlights of the year in a series of WTA Best of 2016 posts. In the doom and gloom that sometimes has been 2016, there were some pretty great moments of sportsmanship on the WTA tour. I’m all about the handshakes… one of my biggest pet hates is when the camera pans away into the crowd at the end of the match! Enjoy this journey through the season with hearty handshakes, hugs and embraces to fill your life with joy.

In the first week of the season in Auckland, Kirsten Flipkens and Tamira Paszek shared a wonderful embrace after a tight three set tussle. Tamira, who won their quarter-final match, 6-4 6-7(3) 6-3, posted a nice tweet about Kirsten after the match.

At the Australian Open, Serena Williams needed just 44 minutes to see off the then 18-year-old, Daria Kasatkina, 6-1 6-1 in the third round. You can hear Serena saying at the net “love your game… love that forehand, it’s really awesome”. Daria looks rather taken aback!

Surprise quarter-finalists, Johanna Konta and Zhang Shuai shared a congratulatory hug after their match. Konta won in straight sets to reach her first Slam semi-final.

Angelique Kerber beat Serena Williams to win the Australian Open in a thrilling three set final…. LOVED the sportsmanship from Serena at the end.

Here is the first of many examples including Belinda Bencic… a good ‘ol hug with Daria Kasatkina after their semi-final in St. Petersburg where Bencic won, 6-4 6-3.

Belinda Bencic again, classy in defeat, after a wild three setter against Magdalena Rybarikova at Indian Wells. This also reminds me how much I miss watching Rybarikova on the tour  :-(.

Onto Miami where Victoria Azarenka beat Johanna Konta in straight sets, 6-4 6-2. The pair shared some nice words at the net and Vika posted about Jo on Twitter after the match.

The first of two Timea-Sveta matches… Kuznetsova prevailed in a tight two set semi-final in Miami but great sportsmanship here from Bacsinszky.

Frances Altick played her first WTA level match in Charleston, losing in straights to Alison Riske. This was sweet from Alison at the end.

Kerber faced fellow German, Laura Siegemund in Stuttgart in one of the most unexpected runs of the year. Siegemund played some sensational tennis during the week but ran out of steam in the final. I liked Siegemund’s expression at the end and Kerber’s pat on the back.

Here’s Timea Bacsinszky again with another respectful handshake after losing out to Simona Halep in the third round of Madrid.

Irina-Camelia Begu was one of the stars of the clay court season. After her run ended in Rome at the semi-final stage to Serena Williams, you can hear her say to Serena “it was a pleasure”.

The final in Rome was Serena Williams v Madison Keys…. While Serena won this match and has won all their previous matches in straights, i’m anticipating a classic between the pair soon.

Now onto the French Open… this was nice to see from Julia Goerges after being edged out in a THRILLING three setter to Monica Puig who won, 7-5 6-7(4) 7-5 in three hours and one minute.

Andrea Petkovic is all class. Along with Bencic, she’s one of the most respectful players in defeat. On this occasion, she congratulated Yulia Putintseva on the victory in Paris.

Surprise semi-finalist at this year’s French Open, Kiki Bertens, had a wild third rounder against Daria Kasatkina, winning 6-2 3-6 10-8. The pair embraced at the net having both struggled physically during the two hour and 48 minute encounter.

Serena Williams and Garbiñe Muguruza seem to get on well and the American was classy in defeat in both Slam finals she lost this year. I love the picture posted below by WTA.

You’ll have noticed an absence from Belinda Bencic… the Swiss player missed several months of the season due to a back injury but returned in Rosmalen. She was dishing out the hugs left, right and centre!

Bencic reached the semi-finals of Rosmalen where she took on BFF, Kristina Mladenovic. This was one of the nicest net exchanges all year ;-).

Petra Kvitova may have lost the final set to Jo Konta in Eastbourne in a bagel set but she was all class here.

There was a heartbreaking moment in the final round of Wimbledon qualifying where Andrea Hlavackova was forced to retire deep in a third set. Tamira Paszek came over to help afterwards which was a lovely touch.

Wimbledon saw many great acts of sportsmanship. Here’s one that I managed to catch on camera myself between doubles partners, Lucie Safarova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. This photo breaks my heart a little as you can see the sadness in Beth’s eyes after she had missed three match points.

Beth Lucie

Serena faced a tricky opener against Amra Sadikovic. The Swiss player said afterwards that she’d asked Serena at the net if she could have a hug!

On Middle Sunday, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Sloane Stephens played out a brilliant match on No.1 Court. Kuznetsova came back from 2-5 down in the third set to win, 6-7(1) 6-2 8-6. I loved the embrace and even more, Kuznetsova encouraging the crowd to cheer for Stephens.

After one of the matches of the year, Dominika Cibulkova saved a match point to defeat Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-3 5-7 9-7. Kudos to Aga for this act of sportsmanship after such a tough loss.

Replicating scenes from the Australian Open final, it was all respect between Serena and Angie after the Wimbledon final.

And finally from Wimbledon, here’s a wonderful embrace between the Girls’ finalists, Anastasia Potapova and Dayana Yastremska. The match had ended in dramatic fashion as Potapova had twice celebrated the win only for Hawkeye to have kept Yastremska’s hopes alive.

Here’s part two of the Kuznetsova-Bacsinszky net exchanges after Kuznetsova won a three setter in Cincy. The pair seem to be good friends and later played doubles together in Wuhan.

When Belinda Bencic and Andrea Petkovic played each other in the second round of the US Open, I knew the handshake would be good… and it was with a high-five and a hug!

Loved the respect on show at all four Slam finals.

Onto the Asian Swing and we had a trio of Radwanska-Wozniacki matches.

An all-Spanish affair in Linz ended with a lovely embrace between Carla Suárez Navarro and Sara Sorribes Tormo. Suárez Navarro won the match in straight sets, 6-4 6-1.

Bencic v Kasatkina part 2 where the result flipped around with a Kasatkina win… love these two!

Nearly there (a hearty handshake if you’ve made it to the end!) as we reach Singapore. Two matches, two different results but respect at the net.

And finally, we’ll end this love-in with one of my favourite shots of the year… Dasha squared!

Gavrilova and Kasatkina

I wanted to start with something positive! This is just the first of seven posts to celebrate the 2016 season. Next up… the best points of the year.

8 thoughts on “WTA Best of 2016: Handshakes and Hugs

    • Agreed Andrew, and I think Angie returned it in the Wimbledon final (when she lost to Serena). I liked her warm response to Madison after the Rome final too.

      Amongst others I’ve been impressed by Jo Konta’s sportsmanship too; she’s always gracious when she loses and has something nice to say about her opponent (as she did about Vika in the match mentioned above, in Miami).


      • I just can’t stand the crying from Jo Konta…

        One thing I’ve found a little annoying this year is the lack of bad response that Cibulkova has gotten for all her POME-ing, considering the flack Ana Ivanovic has gotten over the years. She’s been fist pumping and cheering herself on when her opponents make errors and double fault, which is incredibly disrespectful, really.


      • Konta’s crying? I remember there was one match at Eastbourne and the incident at the US Open but can’t say it really bothered me or I noticed it as a thing.

        I admire Cibulkova’s spirit on court but have to agree… I hate it when players cheer on errors from their opponent and Cibulkova is pretty consistent at doing it.


  1. Good work James. The Belinda one with Kristina Mladenovic is my favourite and I also like the one with Belinda and Daria Kasatkina and I hope to see many more matches of them playing each other in the future. I watched the 2016 girls’ singles final live on BBC when Potapova beat Yastremskand and the ending was very dramatic and it was great to see their reaction to each other at the net.


    • Thanks, Peter. I’m excited to see Belinda and Daria play next year. It’ll be a tough one for both – I think players will know Daria’s game now so she’ll have to step it up. For Belinda, i’m just hoping she can avoid injuries. If she can, i’m confident she will be knocking on the door of the top ten again.


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