WTA Predictions for 2017

Moo’s Tennis Blog is bursting back into life with the annual post of WTA predictions. This is the sixth year of top ten predictions and you can read how my previous attempts went HERE – 2015 was a hilarious mess! This was another tough one (a lot of swapping around players!) and there are a couple of players that I wanted to squeeze in that missed the cut. Read on for my top ten for the 2017 season-end rankings, as well the best of the rest…

10. Elina Svitolina

Svitolina

Elina Svitolina has improved her season-end ranking every year since starting out in 2010 and I have the Ukrainian player sneaking into the top ten for the first time in 2017. I’ll be honest in that i’ve never really been impressed by Svitolina – she’s always been a solid and consistent player without any real sparkle on court that sets her apart from her rest. However, I thought she was superb in Asia where she was definitely trying to be more aggressive and take a few more risks, as well showcasing a pretty nifty net game.

Svitolina has also proven to be very resilient; she overturned a pair of tough losses to Angelique Kerber and Daria Gavrilova in 2016 with victories post-US Open, and came from a set down to win matches on ten occasions in 2016. It was a surprise that Svitolina parted ways with her long-term coach of two and a half years, Iain Hughes, but she has now announced her new coaching situation for 2017. Svitolina has shown a willingness to adapt her game to take it to the next level and I predict that Svitolina will have her best year to date with a couple of Slam quarter-finals and a first Premier title.

9. Karolina Pliskova

Pliskova

Dropping a few places but staying in my top ten is Karolina Pliskova. The Czech player reached the final of the US Open in 2016, which was a huge result having never previously advanced past the third round of a Slam. After defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round, the floodgates opened as Pliskova beat both Williams sisters en route to the final where she was just two games away from winning her first Slam. Pliskova will pair up with David Kotyza in 2017 which was a surprising move having shared several successful seasons with Jiri Vanek.

Pliskova’s scheduling was much smarter this year, in contrast to a hectic 2015, as she opted to skip tournaments to prepare for the big ones. I’m really intrigued to see if her run to the US Open final will help change her fortune at the Slams going forward. I’m inclined to say that it will with a couple of deep runs at multiple Slams in 2017. A Slam title wouldn’t be a surprise…

8. Petra Kvitova

Kvitova

Petra Kvitova has been an ever-present in my top ten lists although this is one of my lower ranks for Petra! For a time it looked like Kvitova might go through 2016 without a title… that was until Wuhan when she burst into life with a series of knockout displays. It was heartwarming to see that Peak Petra was still a thing and she ended the year with another title in Zhuhai.

Kvitova had the perfect end to the 2016 season and is all sorted for the new year with a new coach in Jiri Vanek. However, a stress fracture in her foot has hampered the off-season preparations and I think she will struggle to compete in Australia. Still, I think Kvitova will have an improved year overall by building on the positive end to 2016 and make at least one deep run at a Slam. We’re assured at least one Peak Petra run right?

7. Belinda Bencic

Bencic

New player alert… while Bencic has been a top ten player before, the Swiss player is currently languishing at number 43 in the rankings following an injury-plagued year. Bencic’s rise up the rankings had, up until 2016, been especially rapid as she made a seamless transition onto the WTA tour. The past year has seen her progress halted by back and wrist injuries, and with few opportunities to build momentum.

Bencic’s talent is undeniable, but the one thing that has always stood out is her love of the game, the way she competes and her mentality on court. This is perhaps my boldest pick because it will depend on Bencic’s fitness and avoiding injuries but I believe the Swiss player will have a Cibulkova-like comeback year and reach her first Slam final.

6. Johanna Konta

Konta

Aside from Angelique Kerber, there weren’t many other players who impressed me more in 2016 than Johanna Konta. The Brit built on her breakthrough 2015 season by rising a further 37 places in the rankings. An effective serve and solid groundstrokes off both wings, coupled with an assuredness and rising belief in her game propelled Konta into the top ten.

The impact of parting ways with coach, Esteban Carril and the tragic death of her mental coach, Juan Coto, are yet to be seen but my instinct is that Konta, much like Kerber when she suddenly mounted an assault on the rankings, is only going to keep improving. While Konta very much emphasises that her goals are not focused on results, I think that qualifying for the WTA Finals in Singapore outright will surely be in the back of her mind… and I think she’ll do it.

5. Agnieszka Radwanska

Radwanska

There are no signs that Agnieszka Radwanska, a stalwart in the world’s top ten, is about to hang up her top ten boots just yet. Radwanska enjoyed another excellent year in 2016 and showcased some encouraging signs in her scheduling by skipping some events and preparing for the Slams. It didn’t quite go to plan for Wimbledon, the big one for Radwanska, although she was just one point away from the quarter-finals as eventually lost out to Dominika Cibulkova in what was my match of the year.

Once again, the question will be whether Radwanska can win a Slam? I’m more hopeful than I have been in the past, but I still believe that things will have to fall in place, such as not getting bogged down in long matches early on in the tournament, for Radwanska to have that opportunity again.

4. Simona Halep

Halep

With the nature of Halep’s classy counter-punching game, movement and ability to retrieve the most unimaginable of balls, I have no doubt that that Romanian player will end up somewhere in the world’s top 10 come the end of 2017. Halep won her second Premier Mandatory title in Madrid in 2016 and rediscovered her clay court form of 2014; slam-wise, I think Halep’s best shot is obviously Roland Garros and she’s one of a handful of names that i’d circle for Paris. A concern for Halep is that she can struggle to turn around deficits in matches when things aren’t going to plan. Halep though is in safe hands with Darren Cahill confirmed as her coach for another year and I think she will have an excellent 2017 season.

3. Madison Keys

Keys

I’m on the Madison bandwagon for 2016 as she cracks the top five in my predictions. There were few times when I watched Keys in 2016 and felt like she was playing consistently well; however, she often found a way to win which was encouraging in itself and, in my opinion, demonstrated champion-like qualities. The key for Keys (haha) has always been harnessing power and finding the balance. Backing off will take away what makes her special so there’s a fine line.

Keys struggled in 2016 against the counter-punchers; the American went 0-8 against the trio of Kerber, Halep and Wozniacki. I like how Keys has progressed on tour and learnt year-on-year, and i’d fancy the American to get that big win over one of the more defensively-minded players mentioned above. I also think that Keys will be knocking on the door of winning her first Slam at Wimbledon.

2. Serena Williams

Serena

Serena is still the biggest threat at the Slams which is why she’s at number two in my rankings for 2017. However, Serena’s commitment to play the tour has waned in recent years and it does weaken her chances to finish the year at the top – notably, missing the post-US Open section of the year was pivotal this year with so many points up for grabs.

I’d still fancy another good year for Serena with at least one more Slam because when she’s on, there is no doubt that she is the best player in the world. It will be fascinating to see how she schedules her 2017 season, which is set to begin in Auckland for the first time in her career. A lot of uncertainty remains because we haven’t seen Serena play since September…

1. Angelique Kerber

Kerber

I’m still reeling at not having Kerber in my top ten for 2016, let alone number one, but it’s full circle in 2017 as she’s my pick to end another year at number one. One of the most impressive aspects of Kerber’s 2016 season was her ability to bounce back from success. There have been many cases of players winning their first Slam and then taking time to adjust to the new situation but Kerber had the minutest of dips after winning the Australian Open.

There are a shedload of points for Kerber to defend in 2017 but there are sections of the calendars where she can catch up, notably the clay court season; despite clay being Kerber’s weakest surface and providing somewhat of a mental block in the past few years, she is a former quarter-finalist at Roland Garros and still capable of playing well on the red stuff. I’d fancy Kerber to win at least one more Slam in 2017 at the US Open.

Best of the rest

Cibulkova

Dominika Cibulkova: 2016 was a season of two halves for Cibulkova as she dropped to her lowest ranking since 2007 after losing in the first round of the Australian Open, but ended the year at a career best number five with her biggest title at the WTA Finals in Singapore. I think Cibulkova will start the year strong and reach the latter stages of the Australian Open… right now, she’s one of my dark horses for Melbourne.

Prediction: Top 12

Daria Kasatkina: One of my highlights from 2016 was watching Daria Kasatkina flourish on tour. I considered her cracking the top ten in 2017, but I think she’s still a year or two away. The rest of the tour know her game now so this could be a tough year although I still see Kasatkina rising to a new career high. I’d like to see Kasatkina not rely as much on her coach and  back herself in the big moments. A future Roland Garros champion in years to come but I think Kasatkina will win her first WTA title in 2017.

Prediction: Top 12

Garbiñe Muguruza: I was high on Muguruza in 2016, but i’m not feeling so joyful for 2017. In my opinion, her coaching set-up with Sam Sumyk is not a harmonious one. While he may have been around for her first Slam triumph at Roland Garros, I believe he contributed to her mentality and tactics becoming muddled towards the end of 2016.

Prediction: Top 15

Naomi Osaka: Dynamite game and personality, Osaka is one player I am immensely excited about. I think the Japanese player will keep improving in 2017 and cement her place as a seed at the Slams. She will benefit from an improving ranking by not having to qualify for most events. I’m also fascinated to see Osaka play on grass…

Prediction: Top 20

Ana Konjuh: Perhaps still slightly under the radar (definitely not with me!) but Konjuh had an excellent 2016 with a first Slam quarter-final appearance at the US Open. She lost out to Agnieszka Radwanska in an absolute heartbreaker at Wimbledon where she missed two match points before injuring her ankle; showing bundles of character, Konjuh beat Radwanska just three months later at the US Open. With the nature of her game, i’m still expecting some wild results here and there, but I think Konjuh will start to make more of a name for herself on a consistent basis in 2017. One to watch on grass…

Prediction: Top 20

Katerina Siniakova: I like Siniakova’s game and I think she has top 30 potential if she can rein in her emotions and become more mentally assured in the critical moments. The Czech player reached two finals in 2016, but I think she’ll grab at least one title in 2017 and reach the second week of a Slam.

Prediction: Top 30

CiCi Bellis: The American, currently ranked at number 75, went professional towards the end of 2016 and ended the season with a trio of ITF titles as she built a 15-match winning streak. I’d expect that we will see more of Bellis during the Spring once she turns 18 in April as she won’t have as many restrictions on playing WTA tournaments. I think that Bellis will be one of the biggest risers on the tour in 2017.

Prediction: Top 40

Denisa Allertova: I’ve always been a fan of Allertova’s game and she had some noteworthy wins in 2016 over the likes of Kerber, Svitolina, Ivanovic and Kasatkina. Injuries were a hindrance during the first half of the year but if she can get luckier on that front, I believe that she’s a top 50 player… minimum.

Prediction: Top 50

And finally, some up-and-coming players who i’ll be tracking over the next year and beyond are Francoise Abanda, Antonia Lottner, Kayla Day, Rebeka Masarova and Anastasia Potapova. Watch out for at least one or two of these players to make a splash and push on towards the top 100.

As always, comments are appreciated and i’d love to know your top 10 for 2017.

79 thoughts on “WTA Predictions for 2017

    • Just my thoughts; it’s hard to tell what psychological shape she’ll be in when she returns to the tour full time, and that will be key, but one thing about Maria is that she hardly ever loses to anyone she shouldn’t lose to (i.e. anyone not in the top 20), and she has a huge game and great determination. If she still has her motivation unimpaired, I’d say she’ll be just inside the top 20 by the year’s end.

      I think she’ll be keen to show the world that she can play well without Meldonium, and that will motivate her to work extra hard at her game.

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      • I don´t see Kerber maintaining her Level from 2017 as well.
        Radwanska and Halep would really deserve to win a big title. Radwanska will do it in 2017, Halep not in my view.
        I think Serena will win in Melbourne and/or at Wimbledon.
        In my opinion Muguruza has to regain confidence and definitely will reach number 1. just my opinion.
        Konjuh/ Siniakova/Gavrilova are good but I rather see Kasatkina and Svitolina on top.
        I don´t like Keys as well… she will drop in Rankings this year.
        What do you think about Halep, Konta and Kuznetsova?

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  1. Do you see Kerber defending both her slam titles? I don’t see her winning Australia but I think she is my favourite in for both Wimbledon and the US.

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  2. Always enjoy reading your predictions James!!! I’ll try my hand seeing as I didn’t do too badly last year!

    1: Kerber

    Kerber was THE surprise package of 2016, yet it will really be 2017 where we see what she’s really made of. Having to defend two slams and a slam final among a myriad of other fantastic results can be a LOT of pressure for a fresh #1. However, the way Kerber handled herself during 2016 after she stumbled demonstrated that she has what it takes to handle the pressure. Expect a few stumbles at the start of the year, but don’t expect them to happen again. I think she will perform much better at the smaller events and will be less prone to upsets.

    2: Keys

    In 2016 Keys showed the tennis world just how much damage she can do when she is on her game. Rising as high as #7, Keys was one of only four players to progress past the 4th round of each major. That level of consistency in the big events will lead Keys to further success, and with the type of game she plays it’s not hard to see her have another deep run into a slam. Keys demonstrated a significant improvement in her mental strength and decision making in 2016, and that will only improve in 2017. This is probably my most outlandish prediction on the list, yet it wouldn’t surprise me if Keys caught fire during the year and wreaked havoc on the WTA tour.

    3: Serena

    Ahhhhhhh Serena. No-one really ever knows what kind of Serena we’ll be seeing come the next year, but in the case of 2017 I think we will finally see Serena’s age catch up with her. With her turning 36 next year, and with her shoulder injury so pivotal to her game, I just can’t see Serena dominating the game like she once did. I originally had her at #5 on my list, but I just wasn’t comfortable seeing her name that far down so I changed it!!! Serena’s choice to play the ASB Auckland International at the start of the year could signal a choice to play more events than 2016, although I still believe that her body won’t be able to hold up all year round and she will only be able to focus on the majors. Hope she proves me wrong though! Would love to see her bag a couple more slams to equal Court’s 24.

    4: Aga

    Last year I had Aga finishing at a tentative #5, because even has her biggest fan in the world I was doubtful of her level in 2016. I have gladly been proven wrong though, as 2016 was Aga’s year since 12/13, finishing the year in the top 3 for the first time. I don’t think there is anyone in the tennis world that doesn’t think she deserves a slam, and while we say this every year it would just be incredible if she could bag one. Her best chances are the Aus/Wimby. I’m actually looking forward to the clay season for Aga because I think she was actually playing really REALLY good clay court tennis, bust just got unlucky drawing Domi in the first round at Madrid and then with the weather at RG (I have PTSD from that day). Don’t expect Aga to drop out of the Top 10 anytime soon, don’t think she knows how to anyway!

    5: Halep

    I said it last year and I’ll say it again, I think Halep is over-hyped. While I love her game and watching peak Halep (Halep-Kerber at wimby was so good to watch), I just think her mental game lacks and relies on her coach too much. However, like Aga I think she deserves a slam, and probably her best bet is on the red stuff at RG. While her consistency lacked throughout 2016, hopefully she performs better at the big events in 2017. Could she be the first to join Radwanska with a trio of Premier-Mandatory titles? Hopefully. She should go deep at the US Open again, where she seems to thrive. But again, the counter-punching game she plays means she will always be hovering within top 10 somewhere, and I wouldn’t expect that to change in 2017.

    6: Konta

    Konta was probably the second most surprising player in 2016 behind Kerber. Starting at #47 and ending #10, Konta wowed us all with her intelligent game and steely mental strength. With her smart, all-court game, Konta should claim a few titles in 2017. I’m excited to see how the Brit elevates her game.

    7: Kvitova

    Petra is just…. Petra. Who knows?

    8: Muguruza

    Considering that without her RG points Mugu would be ranked #18, gives an indication as to how disappointing the rest of her year was given her potential. While she has a game to steamroll anyone on her given day, she didn’t have many of those days in 2016. However, she is bound to regroup and record a few decent results in 2017, and with hardly any points to defend it wouldn’t be a stretch to see her remain in the top 10.

    9: Cibulkova

    The renaissance of Domi was on the storylines at the WTA Finals, with Domi doing an Aga; qualifying last minute, going 1-2 in RR play and somehow finishing with the title. With barely any points to defend in the first half of the year, it will be interesting to see how well Domi plays and how high she can rise. However, with so many points in the second half of the year, I struggle to picture her recapturing them all and remaining in the top 5.

    10: Pliskova

    While many were jumping on the Pliskova bandwagon after Cincy/US Open, I found myself disagreeing. While yes, I’m thrilled she finally got the big results she was hoping for, it was three weeks where she played peak-Pliskova tennis. If you take out those three weeks, the year would almost be considered a letdown. However, I think she has the mental strength to power through, and even though she won’t be able to defend her points from those three weeks in 2017, I think she’ll bag some other decent results that keep her in the top 10.

    Honourable mentions:

    Kasatkina: Half of Dasha squared is one of my favourite players to watch. Her mature, all-court game is truly something, and once she gains more confidence she will certainly become a legitimate threat on the tour.

    Svitolina: Svitolina is one of those players that will run for every single ball, and never stop. Her relentless work ethic has paid dividends in 2016, with her reaching a career-high of #14. If she can remain aggressive during matches she is a threat to the top 10!!

    Gavrilova: The other half of Dasha squared is a bundle of energy. Wearing her heart on her sleeve, Dasha reached her first WTA final in Moscow, and has had solid results throughout the year, Excited to see where she ends up this time next year.

    Konjuh: Watching her at the US Open against Radwanksa you would not have thought she was ranked #92. Showing maturity beyond her years, and with a big game to match, expect her to continue to rise through the ranks.

    Slam picks:

    Aus Open: Winner: Kerber R/U: Aga
    Roland Garros: Winner: Serena R/U: Halep
    Wimbledon: Winner: Keys R/U: Kerber
    US Open: Winner: Kerber R/U: Sharapova

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    • Thanks so much for the comment, Sean! I really enjoyed reading your predictions and thoughts. I’m intrigued to see you have Keys at #2 and winning Wimbledon! I have Keys as my my champ for Wimbledon but there are so many other players such as Serena, Kerber, Kvitova and Bencic who I think can all do great things at SW19 with the right draw. And Sharapova runner-up for the US… I think the return of Maria will be very exciting for the tour.

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      • Yeah, Camila’s one of those players (another one is Julia Georges) whom you always think is going to do really well because she moves well and can hit the ball really hard, but but she never does (maybe it’s a mental fragility problem?). She got to the final against Domi in Katowice this year though.

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      • On Julia Goerges, I was surprised to see her listed as one of the fastest movers on the wta by an article online. I haven’t watched her a great deal, but her match against Puig at the French was probably my favourite of that tournament.

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  3. I think the top 10 will flop around a lot this year with the only constants being Serena and Angie as top 2. The other players aren’t very consistent, save Halep and Radwanska. I see Petra making it back into the top 10 for sure based on how she finished playing in Asia. I’d like To see a better start to season from Venus, maybe have her back in the top 10 for a time. I really really would like to see Maria hit 10 by the end of the year, but that’s probably just me being hopeful.

    As for the slams:

    Australia: Serena/Cibulkova
    FO: Kerber/Halep
    WC: Serena/Kvitova
    USO: Sharapova/Kerber

    If Sharapova is to make a run at a slam, I think the US Open is the only one. Though the French is her favorite, being her first one back I highly doubt she’ll perform well, maybe get to the 3rd round. Flushing Meadows could see a surprise slam win for her. As for year end number one, I’d go with Angie again. I could see her maybe pick up Indian Wells or Miami, along with another slam. Either way, the tour will get very interesting next year thanks to Maria’s return

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  4. I’m really shocked nobody has mentioned Azarenka yet!
    I think now that she’s given birth, some buzz will circulate around her
    I think she’s the definition of a wild card.
    Can’t doubt that she won’t be back on tour for a while, but she was stellar on Hard Courts in early 2016
    I think if she is capable recovering quickly, and gaining some momentum, she will be a force to be reckoned with
    Maybe a contender at the US Open?
    Maybe a title in the later Asian Swing?
    She hasn’t put a date on her return, but it’s seeming to be soonish
    I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts,
    Is she now considered a “Dark Horse”?

    Keep up the great work James!

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  5. My predictions for 2017 :

    Aus Open – Madison Keys will beat Karolina Pliskova
    French Open – Simona Halep will beat Svetlana Kuznetsova
    Wimbledon – Agnieska Radwanska wil beat A Kerber
    US Open – Maria Sharapova will beat Karolina Pliskova

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  6. Svitolina and Pliskova leaving their coaches is baffling for me, to be honest, since both are started to enjoy such success with their coaches and aren’t really at that point where they NEED a fresh voice on board.

    Anyway… my predictions are

    top five:
    Serena Williams (returning to number one in the second half of the year)
    Garbine Muguruza
    Belinda Bencic
    Simona Halep
    Karolina Pliskova

    next five:
    Madison Keys
    Johanna Konta
    Elina Svitolina
    Angelique Kerber
    Daria Kasatkina

    other possible top ten players I’m unsure on:
    Kvitova
    Radwanska
    Cibulkova
    Kuznetsova
    Wozniacki

    Serena I think is going to be really focused. I think this may be her last year of competing in singles and that she’ll give us a real swan song. I think Garbine Muguza is just going to CLICK into place this year after a rough 2016. I’m not sure about winning a Slam, but I feel like she’ll be going deep into draws on all 3 surfaces. Same with Bencic, who will be going into 2017 with a lot to prove. Halep has become reliably and consistently great and I expect more of the same. I think Pliskova will make another Slam final this year, maybe Australia or Wimbledon. She’s now a contender for bigger titles.

    Madison Keys I see having a year similar to one of Mugura’s past two. I reckon she’ll make a Slam final and win a few titles and have heaps of first and second round losses. I don’t really love Konta but when she’s on song, it’s like she just doesn’t miss. She reminds me a lot of Azarenka with how she plays. Low risk striking, but played aggressively and precisely with flawless technique. I don’t think her best matches a Serena or Mugurza at their best though. Svitolina really brought together an impressive game at the end of 2017. She’s going into this year with hardly anything to defend until the Summer and I think that she’ll be playing very freely and with some big results. I think Kerber is going to really struggle to back last year up. It’s sort of tough for her that she immediately has a final to defend in Brisbane and then the win in Melbourne. I think Daria Kasatkina just has so much potential and she’s already improving so quickly. I think she’ll have a solid year with lots of QF results and no big finals or titles aside from maybe International events.

    Kvitova is obviously never going to be the world beater we always wanted. Her game seems to go backwards and there are things she did better on a technical level when she started out than she does now?! I think Cibulkova is going to fall apart again, which has been her MO when she’s had a stretch of good results. I think Aga has past it. She can’t seem to win against top players anymore and the injuries come fast and often. Kuznetsova I can sadly see falling back into having successes sandwiched between poor results. Wozniacki is similar to Aga.

    Also really hoping to see some improvement from Caroline Garcia, Monica Puig and Ana Konjuh. Those three have the potential to be better than the rest of the top 100 put together but alas…

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    • Thanks for that Andrew and I agree with most of it, but I respectfully disagree about the “little onion” (which I believe is the literal English translation of her name).

      I think we’re seeing a different Domi now. She came in to 2016 knowing she had a big job to do this year to get her ranking back and, apart from a blip at the AO where she lost in the first round to Kiki Mladenovic, she played excellently pretty much all year and especially at the end where she absolutely roared into and through the WTA finals. In previous years she’d typically play well at the beginning of the year and then flop towards the end, but she didn’t this year.

      It was lovely to see the respect Jo Konta and Vika had for each other when they played each other in Miami, and I agree their games are similar; it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Jo sees Vika as a role model
      (especially since Vika is a slam winner).

      As for Aga, she can still play great tennis; she won Beijing without dropping a set and ended by beating Jo Konta quite comfortably in the final. As I’ve said before I think her biggest problem is her stamina; she flopped badly in Doha against Carla and won just two games after her quarterfinal against Robi, similar to her semifinal at the 2014 AO where she won only three games against an inspired Domi..

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      • I agree about Cibulkova being in a much better place, but she’s in a place she’s never really been in before because she has SERIOUS expectations on her shoulders (more than when she made the Aus final) and a lot of points to defend. And I just think her high risk style of play has the potential to get very messy under high stakes.

        As for Aga, I totally agree with you. As a fitness professional, I don’t really see her as very physically fit. Her body fat percentage and muscle mass seem *very* low. She always looks gaunt and tired and the amount of injuries that she seems to rack up are likely a result of this. Also I saw her drinking a can of coke during a change of ends this year which is pretty insane from a professional athlete…

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      • Many professional athletes drink Coke on in the break if they’re feeling a bit low on energy! Easy and quick sugar fix that doesn’t have the heaviness like a banana. And Aga is just skinny, she’ll never have a body like Serena but she doesn’t need one with the game she plays.

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    • Interesting thoughts as always, Andrew. I remember you saying earlier this year that you thought Muguruza would have a good 2017. I’m not so convinced although nothing would surprise me! I agree about Bencic & Svitolina finishing in the top ten and nearly went for Kasatkina too but felt it might be a bit too soon.

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      • I couldn’t quite put any of the others ahead of her in my predictions and wanted to have at least one riskier choice, but of course Radwanska or Cibulkova have it in them to get in above her.

        I do think people are discounting Muguruza very quickly. It’s perfectly natural for a younger player to suffer a blowback after winning their first Slam. It happened to Sharapova and Kvitova and it even happened to Serena. She has a strong character, she just lost her way a little bit. I think this year we’ll see a little more consistency from her.

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  7. My Slam predictions:
    Australia : Serena Williams (alt. Karolina Pliskova, Madison Keys, Garbine Muguruza)
    French : Simona Halep (alt. Serena Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dominika Cibulkova)
    Wimbledon Karolina Pliskova (alt. Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber, Garbina Muguruza)
    US : Serena Williams (alt. Madison Keys, Jo Konta, Karolina Pliskova)

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  8. My WTA top ten predictions:
    1. Garbine Muguruza
    Muguruza won her first Major title at Roland Garros 2016, which showed that she really belongs to womens´ best Tennis Players. However, after her maiden Grand slam title, the Spaniard´s form dropped. But in 2017 Muguruza will improve a lot, win more Grand Slam titles with her powerful game and in my view she will be number 1 in the end of the 2017 Season.
    2. Agnieszka Radwanska
    Radwanska has consistently been a member of the top ten in recent years. However she still hasn´t won a Grand Slam. This maybe could change in 2017. Furthermore she always does well in Australia, Wimbledon and particularly in China. I pick Aga to be WTA´s number 2 in 2017.
    3. Serena Williams
    Yes, last autumn Serena turned 35, but when she´s in a good shape and MOTIVATED, Serena is still capable of winning titles and even Grand Slams with her mature, powerful game. I see her winning her 23rd Major this year.
    4. Svetlana Kuznetsova
    Another Player older than 30: Never count out Svetlana Kuznetsova! I love her mature, tactical, but powerful game with that she can still be dangerous. She might have had a lot of ups and downs throughout her carreer. However in 2017 the Russian will win one Grand Slam and will be a serious contender in the following WTA Season.
    5. Angelique Kerber
    Kerber won 2 Grand Slams in 2016 and became world number 1. However I think she won´t maintain her Level and her achievements will drop of.
    6. Venus Williams
    7. Dominica Cibulkova
    8. Carla Suarez Navarro
    9. Simona Halep
    10. Elina Svitolina

    Grand Slam favourites:
    Australian Open: Williams; Radwanska, Cibulkova
    Roland Garros: Kuznetsova, Halep; Svitolina
    Wimbledon: Kerber, Muguruza, Williams
    US Open: Kuznetsova, Radwanska, Venus

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    • Interesting that you have Radwanska as a US Open favorite but not Serena? Historically she’s never played well there, never even reached the QF. Why do you think this year will be different?

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      • Serena will once again fail because of the pressure. I think she will succeed in Australia.
        Well Radwanska: I hope she will finally really break through and I know it´s a quite surprising pick but why should she not succeed at the one Slam where she never played well… she has low expectations and low pressure in New York

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      • Has Radwanska underperformed at the US Open because of any pressure in the past? I think that the courts and conditions just don’t seem to really suit her game.
        On the flipside, I don’t really see how Serena would be facing any pressure at the US Open. Not unless she wins the first 3 Slams of the year and is going for the Grand Slam again. She didn’t lose in 2016 because of choking, she lost because she was injured. And she still put up a hell of a fight first.

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      • I´m unsure about Radwanska, too. It´s just my Feeling that she could perform well in this years´ US open… it has always been the Slam of surprises so you never know…

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      • Well actually the US Open has generally been the easiest one to predict because it’s usually the in form player of the year who wins it. I can’t say for certain, but I’m very confident that of the four Slams, this one has been won most by whoever was #1 at the time, and generally the winners have either been in multiple other finals or won other Slams outside that victory. The only real surprise winner in recent times was Flavia, of course.

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      • Kuznetsova (2004), Clijsters (2009,2010), Stosur (2011) and Pennetta. It´s just my view but for me the French Open and especially Wimbledon have always been the easiest Slam to predict

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      • Stosur was a top five player and former #1 doubles player. She’d already made a Slam final the year before (where she beat Serena and Henin) and she made the Rogers Cup final weeks before the US Open. Her winning then would’ve been like Halep winning last year. Not really a surprise.
        Clijsters won the US Open 3 times and was a former world #1. People forget she didn’t just comeback at the US Open after years of retirement. She played Cincinatti and Rogers Cup where she beat top ten players and made deep runs.

        They’re hardly as surprising as Sharapova winning Wimbledon in 04, Bartoli winning Wimbledon in 13 or Schiavonne winning the French in 10.

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      • Of Course Stosur etc had performed well before their US Open title, but you said “the in form Player of the year” wins it and Stosur wasn´t the in form Player of the yea in 2011. Just saying

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      • Stosur was as much the in form year as anyone else in 2011. Nobody really stood out that year, hence Wozniacki being #1 without winning or even reaching the final of a Slam. Sharapova, Zvonereva, Li, Clijsters… Stosur had already shown herself as a Slam contender and reached the final of Rogers Cup and Quarters of Cincinnati, winning 8 of 10 matches.

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      • However having competed at 20 WTA Events Stosur was just the 7th to qualify for the WTA Championships while Sharapova managed to be the 2nd to qualify with competing at only 14 tournaments. But in my view there was no real in form Player.

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    • Marion Bartoli had been in a Wimbledon final before the one she won in 2013, where she lost to Venus, so she wasn’t that surprising. I agree about the others and I’d also add Ana Ivanovic winning the French Open in 2008, aged 20, as a surprising result.

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      • Bartoli always reminds me of Amelie Mauresmo’s two slam titles in 2006. Such an interesting year for her too then.

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      • Ana Ivanovic had been in 2 Slam finals by the time she won hers. She was also winning big titles. Bartoli won her Slam 6 years after her last final there…

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      • You’re right again Andrew; I’m happy to stand corrected re Ana (and you’re right about Bartoli too, her final against Venus was in 2007). I’d forgotten about Ana’s loss in the final of the 2008 AO against Maria but didn’t know about the 2007 French Open final.

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      • She’d ended the previous year ranked #4 after reaching the French Open final, reaching the WTA Final semi’s and winning the Rogers Cup. At the time, Ivanovic winning the French Open felt more like a top potential player becoming a top player. Well literally, really, since she also became #1 by winning. Such a shame she never lived to fulfill that promise…

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  9. Serena will once again fail because of the pressure. I think she will succeed in Australia.
    Well Radwanska: I hope she will finally really break through and I know it´s a quite surprising pick but why should she not succeed at the one Slam where she never played well… she has low expectations and low pressure in New York.

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  10. Interesting that you’ve got Sveta as a possible for the US Open, Thomas; she has won it before (was it 2004?), so it’s familiar territory for her.

    Garbine could do well again in 2017 but I think she needs a change of coach; I don’t believe that Sam Sumyk is the one for her. She likes to have fun and be exuberant (as you can tell from her videos on Twitter), and his somewhat dour approach to the role dampens her spirits IMO.

    Aga seems to play best in environments she enjoys, like Wimbledon and New Haven, and where her style of tennis is appreciated (like Wimbledon and the Asian swing). By her own admission she doesn’t like playing in New York – the razzmatazz, bands in between matches etc. aren’t her thing at all, and I don’t think she’ll win the US Open for that reason. (Caro Wozniacki does like New York and nearly always plays well there.)

    Nice to see that you’ve got Carla in the top 10; I like her backhand, which almost floats over the net and I find very relaxing to watch. I think she’s a nice person too and it was good to see her finally win a tournament this year (in Doha).

    IMO Simona will end up in the top 5 again, provided that she stays fit; over the last three years she’s consistently either won tournaments or made finals on every surface except grass, which seems to be her weakest one. I’d like to see her win the French Open this time, but if she doesn’t I think she’s a possible for the US Open, where she usually seems to end up in the top eight.

    I think Serena wants to win at least one more slam to break Steffi Graf’s record, and I can see her doing it next year (I’ll guess Wimbledon again, but it could be Melbourne).

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    • Its bizarre that Halep has such a good record in New York really when you’d think her game is much better suited to slower hard courts like in Melbourne. She does seem to be a bit of a slow burner though, doesn’t she? She improves as the year goes on.

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    • Also on Muguruza and Sam… there must be some connection between them for her to keep him on after last year. Sometimes fiery girls need someone a bit methodical and practical to help focus them. Look at Serena and Patrick. He doesn’t seem the most pleasant of people though…

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    • Well Kuznetsova: I really like her, she´s my favourite WTA Player… if she Plays good throughout the Season she will be capable of beating anyone and win a Slam once again… but I think it will be the French Open.
      About Muguruza and Radwanska I´m pretty unsure but they can be the first 2 in the world in the next year.
      I think Simona Needs a Little break and after this break she will be able to win slams.
      And Serena… either Melbourne or Wimbledon… you´re right

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  11. Interesting read James as always. I hope you are right about Belinda as I’ve missed seeing her compete in the latter stages of tournaments. I do think that she needs to get herself in top shape though to get back into the top 10.
    Madison will probably prove me to be wrong but I do not expect her to finish in the top 4. She only won one WTA title in 2016 and did not get past the 4th round of any of the Grand Slams. She may need more experience to progress further and I am unsure that she really has the right winning mentality yet.
    I think that Aga will be in the top 3 again. She played some of her best tennis of her career this year and she seems to be enjoying playing tennis again. Her on court demeanour has improved and she seems happier than she used to be. I did hear that she was getting married in 2016 but do not know if she did. I would love it if she won Wimbledon in 2017.
    I think that Caroline Wozniacki could return to the top 10 in 2017. She went through a bad patch in 2016 but there were signs of her getting better towards the end of last season and she is one of the fittest players on the tour.
    I am also a member of the Daria Kasatkina fan club ! She’s a real natural and I like watching her play and she has a determined attitude. I think it would be good if she targeted some of the less competitive events and got her first WTA title as it would boost her confidence. My only concern about her is her serve but I hope it will improve in time.
    Have a good Xmas James and keep up the good work. Your enthusiasm for tennis and especially the WTA tour is wonderful.

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    • I think I may have overlooked Wozniacki in my top ten. I’m always changing my mind even after i’ve posted!

      Thanks, Peter for the kind comments and the support all year. Enjoyed discussing the tennis with you. Hope you have a great Christmas 🙂

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  12. I dont see Kerber grabbing to her number 1 ranking by the end of 2017. I also dont see her winning any slams 2017.

    I agree if there is anyone in top 10 who deserves and fans want to see win a slam its Aga Radwanska. I also however think that it’s mostly a very remote possibility.

    With Serena, I think we will start to see her age catch up with her soon, if not in 2017 then in 2018.

    While I was fully behind her in 2016, now I think that Muguruza might just be another Petra.

    Ana Konjuh is very young and plays great tennis, but there are many many like her, until they mature mentally it’s not much! Katerina Siniakova, Daria Gavrilova, Elina Svitolina are all impressive.

    I was never in Keys bandwagon in 2016, she didnt come across as mature enough to me to go all the way at slams. I still think that she needs to win a big title while beating good top 10 players in order to be really threatening at the slams, however, I wont be surprised if it does happen in 2017. Once she gets there, she will stay there for a long time.

    We definitely need a Belinda Bencic in top 10, it’s a must for tennis fans. We needed a Hingis, a Radwanska, and we need a Bencic.

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    • I don´t see Kerber maintaining her level from 2016 as well.
      Radwanska and Halep would really deserve to win a big title with Radwanska being more likely to achieve that.
      I think Serena will win in Melbourne this year.
      Furthermore, in my opinion Muguruza has to regain confidence in order to get in top shape again. If she was able to manage that, she would definitely be able to become number 1.
      Konjuh/Siniakova/Gavrilova are good. However, in my opinion Kasatkina and Svitolina are better.
      I don´t like Keys´playing style and think she´ll drop in the rankings this year.
      But what´s your opinion on Halep, Konta and Kuznetsova?

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    • The difference between Muguruza and Kvitova is that Garbine really wants it. Petra is a sweet, shy girl and that’s definitely affected her at times. The other big difference between the two is that Garbine is very physically fit whereas Petra struggles with humidity and has been susceptible to illnesses.

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  13. I may be reading Kerber wrongly, but she seemed to me to have always been that hardworking grinder who eventually found the winning gear to eclipse the next level. With that in mind, lm thinking she doesnot need to maintain the same level as last year. She just needs to make sure that she is her usual self and keeps the special gear within reach. Sure she would be a target now, but few girls can also play like Serena at wimbers or Cibulkova at YEC. I still feel she could play smart tournaments and maintain her ranking. In retrospect, Sharapova and Azarenkas absence did have on influence on the top ranked players, and I dont think Marias return would color things all that much. Speaking of Maria, I would be getting to my predictions soon.

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    • Kerber still has a weak second serve though and she will always be at heart a defensive player. In order for her to keep winning as she has been she’s going to have to mentally and physically go beyond that every time. That’s a mighty big ask.

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      • Fair point Andrew, I’m probably feeling too optimistic about her chances. Even her first isn’t the greatest weapon either, she makes do with it though. I just don’t want to to see her drop off. I feel she’s too mature and experienced a player for that to happen.

        I would like to say that the women’s tour may be experiencing a new dawn in 2017, but with Serena still in play I can’t exactly call it that. There will be change for sure.

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      • I feel like Serena is gearing up for one final swan song year. I’ve caught glimpses of her training and she looks ultra determined and she’s in terrific shape.

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  14. I know I’m late at the party but will give it a try:

    Given what happened last year and the years before I’m going to shuffle the TOP 10 😛

    10: Maria Sharapova
    9: Monica Puig
    8: Johanna Konta
    7: Simona Halep
    6: Caroline Wozniacki
    5: Karolina Pliskova
    4: Belinda Bencic
    3: Serena Williams
    2: Angelique Kerber
    1: Garbine Muguruza

    The reasons for my – let’s say crazy – try are the following:

    – Garbi’s year has been a mess but in some ways a really good mess. The “only” stand out result she has to defend is the French Open and I think she will regroup from all the struggles and have a great year including two GS.

    – As an Angie fan I believe in her and her new found mental toughness. I see her playing a very very consistent year with at least two GS semi-finals and a win in Wimbledon.

    – I fully expect Serena to win another GS, maybe Australian Open? However, I think her body/injuries/age will catch up with her which, of course, does not mean that she will fall out of Top 10.

    – I hope Belinda is making Singapore and comes back fitter and more motivated than ever.

    – I expect Karolina to win at least another big title in 2017 and I see her climbing even higher in the first half of the year as she has not too much to defend.

    – There she is, Caroline Wozniacki. Really not the biggest fan of her game but I have the feeling that her newly found confidence will take her back in the TOP 10. I believe she still has something left in her.

    – Well, Simona Halep is a Top 10 feature since 3 years now and she is a great player when confident. I love watchng her play but I do feel like she has missed the opportunity to win a slam.

    – I feel like Johanna Konta will be as consistent as in 2016 and will go to Singapore at the end of the year.

    – I was so impressed by Monica Puig and I think she will found *that* groove again that let her take the gold medal. Her backhand is an absolute must watch shot and she definitely has the game to be in the Top 10

    – Welcome back, Maria. Although I have my very own thoughts and opinion about her case and her behaviour afterwards I think it’s great for the tour that she will be back in April. With no Vika, no Ana and Petra sidelined because of that horrible attack, the tour needs Maria. I think she will be very motivated and I can see her making the Top 10 at the very end of the year. However, I think her way back to the top of the rankings will not be that smooth at times.

    TOP 20:

    – Genie Bouchard: I think she will regroup and win a tournament next year.
    – CSN: consistent as always but not enough to be Top 10
    – Aga Radwanska: I feel like she will have some niggling injuries as her body is very fragile. Also I don’t see her only making a GS quarter final.
    – I’m sure, Svitolina will reach that elusive TOP 10 spot at some point during 2017 but I cannot see her being in the year end TOP 10
    – Timea Babos did impress me in 2016
    – I love Daria I and Daria II 🙂
    – Sloane Stephens: she has quite a lot to defend at the beginning of the year and she was injured but I think she will be in the top 20
    – Domi: same opinion as James. I think she will be around Top 12.

    GS predictions:

    Serena AO
    Garbi: French Open
    Kerber: Wimbleon
    Garbi: US Open

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