This is the annual post on Moo’s Tennis Blog where I attempt to predict next year’s season end rankings. 2018 was actually not too bad as I correctly predicted six of the world’s top ten. Read on for my top 10 for 2019, followed by selected others who I will following with much interest in 2019. As always, i’d love to hear all your predictions for the new year!
The top 10
10. Daria Kasatkina
I thought my top 12 prediction for Kasatkina last year was a tad on the bold side but that was not the case. Kasatkina demonstrated flashes of brilliance throughout 2018 and has developed into one of the most creative and instinctive players on the tour. Kasatkina has some key areas to work on if she is to maintain and improve her current ranking such as the serve and generally backing herself and being more aggressive. I’d fancy Kasatkina to get a Slam semi under her belt, most likely at the French, and to continue to build her confidence on the tour.
9. Angelique Kerber
I’m on the fence with Kerber for 2019 as she starts the season with another new coach in Rainer Schuettler. She was completely rejuvenated at the start of 2018 as she tore through the competition down under and then went onto win her third Slam at Wimbledon. However, she never came close to producing the form from the first half of 2018 post-Wimbledon. It will be intriguing to see how she handles defending all the points in Australia and at Wimbledon. While still in the top ten, i’d be more inclined to say that Angie will have a challenge on her hands to defend her current position in the rankings.
8. Victoria Azarenka
When I started constructing this post I had Azarenka in my top five. After reading recent reports about the custody battle involving her son, i’m feeling slightly more cautious. I still believe that Azarenka has much more left to give on the WTA tour. Her level was decent during much of 2018 – to me, she simply needs more matches. The Belarusian has bundles of variety and is one of the few players who i’d say has a plan B when plan A isn’t working. The pairing with Wim Fissette is one I expect to flourish. If, and now it seems to be quite a big if, she can play a full season then I think she can be contending for the Slams again. I’ve actually gone for Vika as my wild punt for the US Open.
7. Ash Barty
Backing up a breakthrough season is never straightforward. Barty performed admirably in 2018 to end the season two places higher in the rankings compared to 2017. I felt Barty was lacking confidence during large chunks of the season. Still, her base game and general court craft saw her win so many matches, particularly during the second half of the season. The Aussie has become one of the most reliable at beating players ranked below her. Her serve, particularly the second serve, is underrated considering her height. Winning her first Slam in doubles was surely a big moment for Ash and I think everything is in place for the next push in singles.
6. Karolina Pliskova
Pliskova enjoyed another solid season in 2018 as she successfully qualified for the WTA Finals. While there was a tendency for Pliskova to play more defensively in 2018, the Czech player was generally clutch in the key moments and has developed into one of the most consistent players on tour. I love her current coaching set-up that includes both Conchita Martinez and Rennae Stubbs. Personally I don’t think Pliskova will win a Slam in 2019, but she seems a pretty safe banker for a top ten slot.
5. Sloane Stephens
Stephens wasn’t even a consideration in my top ten last year, mainly because of concerns over her consistency. While there was the odd insipid display in 2018, on the whole, Stephens was very impressive. There were a handful of tournaments where the American player looked in complete control as she befuddled opponents with her defence, particularly on the slower surfaces. If she can stay motivated and committed, then I think she will remain ever-present in the top ten and contending for the Slams.
4. Aryna Sabalenka
Sabalenka’s rise up the rankings in 2018 was rather staggering. While her potential has always been huge, Sabalenka went on an absolute tear during the second half of 2018 with coach, Dmitry Tursunov in tow. It will be intriguing to see how she reacts to an inevitable drop in form/confidence and whether the field start to figure her game out. Personally i’d say her game is sound and would love to see her continue to be positive in coming forward to the net. I’d tag Sabalenka as one to watch for winning a first Slam in 2019. Fascinated to see what she can do on grass.
3. Simona Halep
There are a few question marks around Halep after the news that coach, Darren Cahill will take a year to be with his family. Of all the recent first time Slam winners, Halep was the one that I expected to drive forward with confidence. I think we’ve seen this to a degree, particularly during the summer hard court season where she was superb. The coaching changes for 2019 make me slightly cautious, but i’m more concerned by the persistent injuries that she has battled over the past few years.
2. Garbiñe Muguruza
I’m going for a Muguruza resurgence in 2019. She’s proved before that she can click into form at the Slams without very little warning and I think the disappointments from 2018 will drive her forward. She’s too good to be languishing outside the world’s top 15. The coaching set-up with Sam Sumyk has drawn a lot of negativity from fans and pundits. I’ve definitely been critical of the partnership in the past and their intense changeover chats can be uncomfortable to watch. However, I think he deserves more credit than he gets and it’s not something that I think will hold her back in 2019. I’d fancy at least one more Slam for Muguruza in 2019. In my eyes, the Spaniard is one of the favourites for the French Open.
1. Elina Svitolina
For the second straight year, i’ve gone for Svitolina as my season-ending number one. Svitolina has made steady progress each year, so much so that she has been able to improve her ranking every single year on tour. I’m still on the fence as to whether she can make that big breakthrough at a Slam. Even with the Singapore success, the pressure seems to ramp up with each Slam. However, I do think that she will be the most consistent player on tour in 2019. I admire her drive and resilience – when she gets knocked down or criticised, this only seems to make her hungrier to prove people wrong.
Best of the rest:
Naomi Osaka: I am certain Osaka will win more Slams in the future. However, I would not be surprised if 2019 was more of an adjustment year. Top 12.
Petra Kvitova: 2018 was a season of two halves for Kvitova – the first half was sensational, but Wimbledon seemed to stop her in her tracks, as well as perhaps some tiredness from the heavy schedule between February and June. I wouldn’t say i’m that high on Kvitova next year. No doubt she will catch a hot streak at some point during the year because she’s too good not to. I really, really, really hope she can peak for a Slam next year 🤞. Top 12.
Wang Qiang: Arguably the star of this year’s Asian Swing. It was so nice to see Wang Qiang backing herself and going after her shots. The game has always been there, but it’s lifted to another level with her improved mentality. The key will be whether she can translate her form in Asia to the rest of the tour. Pushing towards the top ten. Top 15.
Timea Bacsinszky: With Safarova retiring, Bacsinszky will be promoted to my favourite active player! With her attitude and spirit alone, I think Bacsinszky will race up the rankings again. While getting into tournaments may be an issue, she has no pressure of defending points and the clay season should be a rewarding time. Always an outside contender for the French Open. Fingers crossed she can stay healthy 🤞. Top 20.
CoCo Vandeweghe: 2018 was an injury riddled year so if she can stay healthy, i’d fancy a CoCo resurgence. Always one to watch on grass. Top 30.
Viktoria Kuzmova: Love the big hitting game of Kuzmova and coupled with a pretty potent serve. Still waiting for that big win as she’s yet to beat a top 30 player on tour. I think she’ll flourish in playing more WTA events. Top 30.
Dayana Yastremska: I hadn’t seen much of Yastremska until the end of 2018 when she stormed through the field in Hong Kong to win her first title. A really exciting player who seems fearless on court. I don’t expect to see consistent results yet but I think there will be a couple of flashy weeks where she makes a name for herself. Top 30.
Amanda Anisimova: I think Anisimova is a future world number one and Slam champion. I don’t see any major weaknesses in her game and she seems to have it mentally which is huge these days. AA had a little dip at the end of 2018 but in the grand scheme of things, I think she will continue to improve and impress. Still restricted by age for the WTA main tour so tempering my prediction a tad! Top 40.
Caroline Dolehide: The American has some huge weapons in her game. Dolehide reminds me of Stosur and showcased a bold mentality when she pushed Halep to the brink in Indian Wells. I think her game will take some time to gel but excited about the potential and expect to see some of that come through next year. Top 40.
Anastasia Potapova: Fancy Potapova to progress further in 2019 with her ranking likely to get her into the main draws of the Slams. Top 50.
Marta Kostyuk: Big talent, big personality and big potential. I think Kostyuk will break the world’s top 100 in 2019. Still restricted on playing the WTA tour due to her age. Top 75.
Whitney Osuigwe: One to watch for 2019. Top 100.
Australian Open: S.Williams
French Open: Muguruza
US Open: Azarenka
33 thoughts on “WTA Predictions for 2019”
Kiki Bertens? Miki Buzarnescu? Not worth mentioning?:)interesting top 10 but i don’t think Svitolina will be number 1ever, don’t know why because she is a very good player, just a feeling i think:)
And Happy New Year, James and may all your wishes come true
Happy New Year to you too! There’s a lot of players I didn’t mention and it was nothing personal. If I’ve got enough space left (!) then they’d both be top 20 for me. It was such a shame Buz was stopped in her tracks by injury. Hopefully she can rediscover her form in 2019. Slightly wary of Bertens having so many points to defend, but I think her game is pretty solid now.
If Svitolina starts the year well and improves her runs in the Slams, she could be #1 by the Summer. She has plenty of opportunity to make up points with good showings at Doha, Indian Wells and Miami. Halep has a LOT to defend in the first half of the year.
No Serena in your top ten? I feel like her motivation at the slams will be enough to get her there. Although she does seem more like a wildcard this season than a top player if you know what I mean
Same feeling as last year, not convinced Serena would play enough tournaments during the year. I haven’t done the maths so may have misjudged it as I had her winning a Slam 😂
Seems like a bit of a miscalculation there. Serena’s ranked 16 despite playing in only 7(!) tournaments in 2018, all while rusty and nowhere near peak physical condition. In contrast, most members of the top 10 competed in the high 10’s or even over 20 tourneys – some have played in >3x as many tournaments as Williams.
Considering that she’ll be:
1.) in much better shape (fitter AND more mobile)
2.) far less rusty
3.) playing in more tournaments (AO, Rome, perhaps Madrid and Charleston, some Asian tournaments if close to #1 or WTA Finals),
it’s not too far-fetched to see her well within the top 10. #1? Maybe not, but she has stated that as one of her goals – with her determination, it’s definitely not impossible.
I didn’t think she’d make it past R4 of any of the 2018 slams, and she made me look like a fool. I’ve learned my lesson about doubting her.
Nice blog, BTW. Stumbled upon it a little while ago. It’s nice to see a blog with such a high WTA focus – it’s not something I see around too much (and the WTA website it just…ugh).
I’m still not convinced about Serena playing many more tournaments compared to last year but all fair points. I didn’t do my calculations beforehand! And welcome, thanks for the kind words 🙂
I assume no mention of Wozniacki anywhere near the top 10 was just an oversight, or do you envision some precipitous career collapse for the reigning Oz, Eastbourne and Beijing champ???? In your defense, (as a Halep fan I can say this) Woz is easy to overlook. 🙂 🙂 🙂
(For the record, here is my prediction from two weeks ago, so you can smirk next December if Woz does finish out of the Top 12):
1) Elina Svitolina
2) Simona Halep
3) Serena Williams
4) Aryna Sabalenka
5) Sloane Stephens
6) Naomi Osaka
7) Petra Kvitova
8) Daria Kasatkina
9) Caroline Wozniacki
10) Kiki Bertens
For fun, two pop quizzes:
1) since you foresee neither finishing very high in the 2019 rankings – who finishes as Latvian #1? Ranking range for both?
2) Sharapova: are you pessimistic about her returning to relevance this year? Ever?
It can be fairly easy to forget about Wozniacki. But maybe the reason James didn’t include her because of the fibromyalgia…
I absolutely have no idea anymore for predictions. Which I totally love, because it keeps it interesting! Players like Sabylenka, Stephens, Ostapenko and Osaka could well dominate the tour in 2019. Or they could really struggle to string wins together.
I’ve liked Svitolina for quite a while now. I would love to see her break her Slam slump. She’s shown (on numerous occasions) that she can contend with the very best. It’s really bizarre that she’s gone out so limply in the biggest events. I still wonder what would have happened if she’d beaten Halep at the French last year. I reckon she’d have gone on to win the title…
I did consider Wozniacki but in my mind, have her top 15/20. I wondered if after winning AO and getting to No.1 again whether she was considering retirement as she’s really done it all. I actually think the latest diagnosis might give her added motivation, something to fight for on tour. I had Woz dropping as concerned by how prone she has been to injuries of late. I’ve generally found that her best runs of form have been when she’s been completely injury free. As you say Andrew, damn difficult to make predictions but it’s fun! There are so many players I didn’t write about that deserve a mention.
lol…Can’t help but think of Caroline as a veteran whenever I look back at her past years. As young as she is, she’s really given these WTA courts a good running over during the course. Good thing she has the titles and ranking achievements to show for it. A positive to her current ailment, if I can call it such is, it may give her good periods of rest and she can plan how/which tournaments she comes into. A rested Wozniacki is always a handful to contend with. If Venus is an example to go by, you can find a way.
Aside, it has been a story of what ifs in her(Elina) grand slam challenges, @Andrew. The issues that tripped her up in her match against Halep,they could have surfaced again against an Ostapenko who was just playing her tennis in spite of the opponent and the grand stage. Well, it has happened for Caroline and Halep, it can fall into place for her too.
No top 10 love for Garcia ?! Or do people think she’s had her chances.
Two good questions! I think i’d stick with Sevastova as Latvian #1 but it’s very difficult. I’d be surprised if either go out of the top 30, most likely top 20 but I realise that i’ve said this about so many players that I don’t think I have many spaces left! I was actually quite positive about Sharapova last year. I’d probably say top 30 for Sharapova this year, mostly based on the injuries. The injuries were starting to mount up even before the drugs ban.
Few thoughts from the Serena v Venus match… Serena is looking pretty good! I was worried for most of the match about the serve speed, but she amped it up towards the end. She also defended pretty well on a few points, and obviously she’s still got the power. After failing in two finals in 2018, I had written her off in my mind (mental, I know, since she made two Slam finals) but now I’m thinking she could still be a major player this year. In the Slams, at the least…
Wish I could have seen the match! I’ll have to look up a match report later to get a better idea of how Serena did. How did she look physically? I wrote her off last year (and only for last year) because her body clearly didn’t look ready for the rigors of a 7-round tournament. But as the year went on, she showed clear progression.
As long as she’s fully fit (that’s going to be key, IMO), I foresee good things for her over the next 2-5 (yes, I said it) years. I suppose I’ll post my own predictions later.
It was hard to judge her physical shape because of what she was wearing. Early in the match it seemed as though she wasn’t prepared to rally longer than 4/5 shots, but in fairness, Venus was SMACKING the ball. Later on, she did seem to stick in points longer.
My real reservation about her performance was that she played very conservatively. That’s hard to judge in context though, because she’s never as aggressive against Venus or in exhibition matches as you would expect in a tournament. But she could have gone for more on her shots, her serve and come into the net more. If she wants to hold off the inspired younger generation this year, she needs to take more risks.
I’m not sure we should be reading too much into performance at an exhibition? Looks in great shape though!
Well no and yes. Generally players feel free to be more creative during exhibition matches and try things that they wouldn’t necessarily attempt during competition. So to see Serena playing it so safe is a bit disappointing. But from what she did do, she looks in good form.
Serena will do what she wants at this point really. She can get herself up there with her improving fitness. Even her relatively ‘poor’ showing by her own high achievements from last year is superlative to most. It may come down to how she feels about family life and time spent with her daughter. If she is in a good confident place mentally, always will be a challenge for any player.
Pingback: WTA Predictions for 2019 — Moo's Tennis Blog – LOVE TENNIS Blog |
Thanks, James! Was looking forward to reading your predictions! I’m really excited for the new season… I haven’t watched a lot of tennis last season because I had no time. Also, I didn’t feel like watching. But this new season I’m beyond excited. There’s soooo many players that could be in the top 10. There’s the “old” guards and the new ones. Some predictions:
– I think Serena will reach no. 24… I actually have no doubt about it.
– Svitty to win a slam too
– “surprise” Wimbledon winner (such as Sabalenka or Bencic maybe)
– Azarenka will only play a few tournaments because of her ongoing issues in private life ( I’d love this one to be wrong)
– Wozniacki will retire (for health reasons and because she has now everything under her belt)
– Halep to sit out most of the season with ongoing back issues
– Naomi will have a little dip in form
– Sloane to be top 10 at the end of the year (her points including crazy good and crazy bad results)
– Belinda to gain back momentum
Also, I’m hopefully attending some more tournaments. I plan to be at ATP and WTA Stuttgard and I got tickets for ATP Halle 🙂
Just to get my rant in before the new year’s festivities and all kick in over the weekend 😀 .
Glad to read about Cibulkova saying tennis is still a top priority for her. Looking forward to a much better year for her.
Ideally, I would love to see Aryna Sabalenka continue her hot form. I feel she can drag some other power baseline players along (like Ostapenko, Osaka) with her by the atmosphere she generates. Seasonal strategy will be key, as shown by Sabalenka and Wang. You can really do some serious damage in the second half of the season if your physical/mental conditioning is great going into that end of the hard court season. Would like to see a Bertens do exactly this. Of course, she will certainly enjoy the spring clay season as per usual along with Kvitova.
Aga was my go to player when I wanted a break from the hitters( Vinci too sometimes). Have to workout someone, maybe Daria Kasatkina, or a Doc Buz(fully fit) or Baczinsky. As much as I like Svitolina, I feel her current plan is to make her game less defensive and more powerful. Speaking of Elina, I like your predictions James, Svitolina at number 1 is interesting. I will be wary of a mental burnout, hope she is up for the challenge. Taking the YEC title was a positive, but the tour season will be telling. A perennial enigma for me, Sloane could actually be a number 1 if she was only consistent. Truthfully, Ms. Stephens, she plays when she wants to play, I can’t say or do much about that.
Players that got me a bit angsty, Anett Kontaveit and Madison Keys. Keys should really be a top 10 player. Granted injuries held her back a bit this season, her back and forth mental focus sometimes just drives me up against something 😡 . We’ll see. As for Anett, someone find her a game plan b or mental strategy. Something to coast with (when tables are turned against her), more importantly survive more 3 setters when stakes are really high.
2019 WTA PREDICTIONS
*Top 10 + those who will just miss out*
1.Simona Halep (Romania)
2.Serena Williams (United States)
3.Naomi Osaka (Japan)
4.Angelique Kerber (Germany)
5.Aryna Sabalenka (Belarus)
6.Elina Svitolina (Ukraine)
7.Sloane Stephens (United States)
8.Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)
9.Petra Kvitová (Czech Republic)
10.Garbiñe Muguruza (Spain)
11. Karolina Plisková (Czech Republic)
12. Maria Sharapova (Russia)
13. Daria Kasatkina (Russia)
14. Ashleigh Barty (Australia)
15. Kiki Bertens (Netherlands)
*Grand Slam Champions + back-up contenders*
Australian Open – Champion: A. Sabalenka, Back-Up Contenders: S. Williams & E. Svitolina
French Open – Champion: S. Williams, Back-Up Contenders: S. Halep & S. Stephens
Wimbledon – Champion: S. Williams, Back-Up Contenders: S. Halep & S. Stephens
US Open – Champion: S. Halep, Back-Up Contenders: S. Williams & S. Stephens
Not sure if anyone here follows Svitolina online at all, but she’s been posting some INSANE workout videos. Her camp have clearly been watching Djokovic and his training. Can’t wait to see where her game is at in Brisbane.
I saw her on Twitter just before Christmas, when she was working out with boxers such as Anthony Joshua and David Haye (good to have those two on your side).
Here she is doing some exercises;
Yeah it’s not surprising that she’s a big boxing fan, being from Ukraine.
I do remember Navratilova saying once when commentating that boxing makes good training for tennis. Makes sense, what with footwork and weight distribution.
Yes, when done right, it’s a great workout. Burns fat and keeps muscles toned without bulking much. Great for core body work too. Caroline Wozniacki does it too. Just good to keep mind and body in shape I think.
Lol muguruza to win RG? Such a bad prediction.
Because she’s never done it before…
Has the game to be dangerous, really like the coaching partnership. Needs to work on a Plan B and to find a way to win when not playing her best to go deep in slams
Intrigued by how she will go in 2019, her mentality is top notch and love how she gives it her best and fights, defending US Open will be tough.
Without Darren Cahill it will be interesting how Simona continues herself as a top player, don’t think she will win a slam but definitely win some bigger tournaments!
After winning the WTA finals Svitolina will either struggle with pressure or be on a massive high, personally think she could win a slam but unable to keep the consistency needed for No.1
She’s back with a bang. Serena will do great in 2019 but needs to play more tournaments to reach the top again, think she will get the Slam she’s looking for.
Wozniacki is always a big ? She finally won the maiden slam last year but I don’t see that much happening in 2019 other than great consistency between tournaments, possible retirement at the end, as she looks happy and has achieved what she wanted.
Quite confused by Kvitová’s 2018 after winning heaps of tournament but struggled in Slams. I think she needs to play a little less tournaments because fatigue really affects her game. Could go either way for her, I have kept her in the top 10 cause she is able to play lights out tennis.
She definitely struggled in her first slam after winning Wimbledon but also continues to change coaches. I think Kerber needs to develop a good partnership with a coach and develop it rather to switching up every season. Good win a Slam.
A dangerous killer who has the game to go deep in any tournament she plays but don’t see her winning slams jsut yet. Glad she found a good coach in Turnsnov.
My big mover for 2019! Anett can really defeat those big players and potentially can go deep in slams. I think she is just needs a breakthrough in a particular tournament to give her the confidence in herself.
The Droppers: ( Out of Top 10)
Stephens – Plays great when she wants but don’t think she can continue to switch on and off throughout the season, if she can get her consistency right then the sky’s the limit but excepting a tiny drop off. Top 12
Bertens – I like her game and personally didn’t realise how big of a weapon her serve is and such a big part of her game. I feel that she has a lot of points to defend and if she fails to reach the WTA finals she could struggle. Her mentality really needs to improve as she gets frustrated way to easily. Except at least one good Slam run though . Top 15
Kasatkina – Similar to Bertens I feel her mentality is her biggest weakness. Dashka needs to continue to believe in herself especially when losing or things aren’t going her way, if she can except a massive improvement. See 2019 as a adjustment/ learning period. Top 20.
The Risers / Improvers:
Top 20 – Azarenka, Wang, Sakkari
Top 30 – Sasnovich, Tomljanović
Top 40 – Kužmová, Kenin
Top 50 – Jabeur, Yastremska, Peterson
Top 100 – Andreescu, Kostyuk
Slams & PM*
AO – Plíšková
FO – Anyone’s ( Woz, Kerber, Halep/Mugu?)
W – Serena
US – Svitolina
IW – Sabalenka
MI – Osaka
MA – Halep or Bertens
BE – Kontaveit
* Draw Dependent
Thank You James for your Insights🙃, looking forward to what the 2019 Season brings 💪🏼
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Nice article about Simona in the Guardian today (with interview);
Thanks for sharing! Great piece 🙂