WTA Predictions for 2020

This is the annual post on Moo’s Tennis Blog where I attempt to predict next year’s season end rankings. 2019 was a shocker as I correctly predicted four of the world’s top ten. I’ve spent weeks deliberating my top ten and i’m still not entirely happy but here goes! Please sound off in the comments with your top ten predictions 😁.

The top 10

10. Garbiñe Muguruza

Muguruza is one of the most fascinating players on the tour and I just can’t figure her out. I thought she competed well in 2019 but was held back by her increasingly passive tactics. Now back with Conchita Martinez (the coaching announcement of this year’s off-season that filled me with the most joy), I still have faith that Muguruza can rediscover her best form. My expectations are tempered compared to last year where I had her at number two but she’s too good to be languishing outside of the world’s top 30. She will always be one of my favourites for the French Open title.

9. Serena Williams

I’ve omitted Serena from my top ten for the past few years but have her sneaking in this time round. She’s never going to be high on my list, purely for the fact that she plays so few tour events. Key to winning her 24th Slam is playing more matches and I think winning a title somewhere on the tour would be huge. If she keeps putting herself in Slam finals, surely it’s going to happen?

8. Bianca Andreescu

Andreescu is a curious one for me. Her rise in 2019 was incredibly rapid as she started the year outside of the world’s top 150 and finished it inside the top five with a first Major. I do have my concerns as to whether it all catches up with her. Will she start to think, or feel some expectation? She’s an extraordinary competitor and her game has so many layers that I cannot ignore her in my list.

7. Karolina Muchova

I’m sold on Muchova’s game. I think she will win Slams although probably a push for 2020. Muchova has plenty of ground to make up next year having not played Indian Wells, Madrid, Rome, Canada or Cincy in 2019. Her variety reminds me of Barty and I think her game has the potential to be even more complete than Ash.

6. Karolina Pliskova

Pliskova is a safe lock for the top ten in my opinion. She’s consistent and clutch on the tour, and frequently manages to rescue herself from precarious positions to post solid results across the board. Interestingly, it’s a completely different story at the Slams where she experienced tough losses at the last two Slams. I’m still not convinced she will win a Slam in 2020.

5. Simona Halep

No strong feelings for Halep but similar to Pliskova, she’s a definite for the top ten barring any injuries. Along with Muguruza, she will always be a favourite for Roland Garros. Pairing up with Darren Cahill again surely will be a boost, even if their exchanges in Shenzhen were not exactly harmonious.

4. Ash Barty

Despite finishing the season at world number one, I still feel Barty was underappreciated in 2019. The year is so long and she kept such a consistently high level from start to finish with titles on all surfaces. I do think the rest of the challengers will be hungry to topple her in 2020 and i’d be surprised if she can maintain her position at number one. Her game has so much variety and she has such a wise tennis brain that I think she will be there or thereabouts. I’m going for Ash to win Wimbledon next year. She loves the grass but it’s never quite come together for her at SW19 yet.

3. Naomi Osaka

I omitted Osaka from my top ten countdown in 2019 but I don’t have the same reservations for 2020. There were plenty of ups and downs this year, yet it was still a fabulous season which was bookended with titles in Melbourne and Beijing. She’ll definitely win more Slams in my opinion (going for one more in 2020) and i’m still convinced her game can marry up with the grass despite her struggles this year.

2. Sofia Kenin

I think that Kenin will win a Slam in 2020. I’ve always been impressed with her mentality and how she backs herself on court. I viewed Kenin as a counter-puncher back in 2018 but I completely changed my opinion in 2019. The young American had an aggressive, fearless edge. While she still displayed some inconsistencies this year, I think the belief she has in herself is going to take her far.

1. Elina Svitolina

Third time lucky? I’ve gone for Svitolina as my world number one again. I feel that if she can stay healthy, she is the most consistent player across all surfaces. I’m still not sold on whether she can win a Slam but I think she’s going to win a shedload of points at the tour level.

Best of the rest:

Elise Mertens: One of the most reliable and consistent players on the tour. Went under-the-radar for much of 2019 but I think she’ll be more prominent in 2020. No.11.

Belinda Bencic: Probably 2nd on my list of contenders for Wimbledon behind Barty. Injuries and composure on court at times still worry me. No. 12.

Aryna Sabalenka: I can’t believe Sabalenka finished at number 11 after what felt like a mostly disappointing season. Just like 2018, she ended the season on a super high. Her power is undeniable but it’s the mental side that still concerns me. No.13.

Amanda Anisimova: The 18-year-old is no longer restricted by her age so can play a full schedule. Her backhand is world-class and composure on court already sets her apart from the rest. She’s a future world number one and Slam champ IMO. I think her big breakthrough will come in 2021. No.14.

Petra Kvitova: I want Peak Petra to win another Slam but struggled to fit her in my top 10! Wary about her consistency in 2020. No.15.

Dayana Yastremska: Top 20

Iga Swiatek: Top 25

Rebecca Peterson: Top 30

Catherine McNally: Top 40

CoCo Vandeweghe: Top 50

Slam Predictions (😬)

Australian Open: Osaka

French Open: Kenin

Wimbledon: Barty

US Open: S.Williams

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27 thoughts on “WTA Predictions for 2020

    • I personally think there will be a year long battle for the no. 1 spot and Elina Svitolina again will not be one of the contenders. I do like your choice of Sofia Kenin as a top ten breakthrough, she is high on my list as well. Halep looked still seriously injured at the WTA Finals, she had some weird wins but also weird losses in 2019. I don’t think she will survive, maybe fulfill yet another dream and get herself an Olympic medal. I do like your prediction of GS winners, I could find a lot of motivation to address the same players to win, in the same order.

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  1. James, I’m always looking forward to reading your predictions😍
    I love that you’re not giving up on Svitolina. Personally, I like her new coach and I feel like she could win a slam (if her body holds up).
    I’m sold on Kenin, too. Not sure about the Grand Slam though. I feel like the ‘old’ generation will sneek two or three slams. I think Serena will finally get that 24 GS. Also, got a feeling Angie will win another one (I’m biased I know). She’s had her ups and downs which she recently said in an interview and she still doesn’t feel like retiring as long as her body is still willing. She’s my pick for the gold medal too.
    As for Andreescu and Bencic, I feel like their bodies are too injury-prone maybe?

    Sooo.. I’m just trying to predict the GS-winners:

    Serena, Angie, Petra and someone of the young guard. I’m torn between Osaka and Barty.

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    • Thanks, Murphy! Hope you are well. I guess Kenin is a bit of a wild pick, just have a feeling! Kerber always seems to flip between good and not-so-good years. I didn’t think of the Olympics!

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    • Peterson flying under the radar 🤪 If Larsson can improve her ranking after a disastrous 2019 – Sweden could have 2 women in the top 100!

      What do you think of Bertens?

      My predictions are:

      YE Top 10:
      1. Andreescu (if she’s healthy – not looking good atm)
      2. Kvitová (Slam incoming imo – what a story that would be)
      3. Pliskova ( I think she finally deserves a Slam )
      4. Bertens (so hard to read – got the game to beat the best but not the mentality, interested to see FO but she needs to play less tournaments!)
      5. Serena (2020 could be the year for 24 and if so I think she will ten retire)
      6. Osaka (Up and down )
      7. Barty (I think Barty is brilliant but I think she got pretty some pretty lucky draws… don’t know if she can back it up)
      8. Konta (2019 was Konta’s chance to make a slam final at the FO but she had suffered with injuries I except her to back those big performances up)
      9. Bencic
      10. Halep

      Honourable mentions: Svitolina, Mertens, Keys
      Young guns to watch out for: Animisova, Muchova, Kenin, Peterson, Swiatek, Jabeur

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      • Nice list! I really like Peterson who is very underrated IMO. She has a solid game. I see Bertens more as a 15-20 player but she proved me wrong this year. She did superbly to back up her breakthrough 2018 season by maintaining her position in the top ten. I agree about playing less tournaments.

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  2. Sorry to spoil the mood but I’m getting a bit bothered by all the smoke from bush fires I’m seeing in the news (and the heat too) in Aus. – it’s looking really bad in some places. is there any chance they’ll call off a tournament if it gets too bad? I remember that Simona had to be treated for heat exhaustion after her AO final two years ago, and it’s looking even worse now. I don’t think any player should have to put up with that.

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      • No it isn’t James, but I’m enjoying the pledges the players are making concerning the money they’ll give to charities in Aus that are trying to cope with the fires and their aftermath. Both Julia Georges and Karo Pliskova have promised to donate a set amount to charity for every ace they hit when they’re out there, Alize Cornet has said she’ll donate a certain amount for every dropshot winner she hits, and Simona (who admits she doesn’t hit a lot of aces) says she’ll donate $200 for every time she gives Darren a hard time on court!

        It’s clearly a case of “the show must go on” and it looks like it’s cooling down somewhat anyway this week (and starting to rain).

        [Of course I’m horrified by the pictures I’ve been seeing in the news here of all the devastation caused by the bush fires, just as everyone else is, but I don’t want to dwell on this in a recreational blog.]

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      • Thoughts and Prayers to all affected. I think some tournaments will be greatly affected more than others, like the Sydney event.
        Silly me, for a moment, I thought your post read that Cornet was donating for every ace she hit, 🙂 just bemused.

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      • No problem letsplay, I probably could have phrased it better. The difference between Alize and Simona was that Simona explicitly stated that she didn’t hit a lot of aces and was therefore going to use another way of raising money for the relief fund, whereas Alize implied that she didn’t (by going for dropshot winners instead) and didn’t state it explicitly.

        As it turns out, Alize has just hit four aces in her win over Ysaline Bonaventure in Auckland, so she needn’t have worried.

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  3. I’m definitely interested to see how this year unfolds for a lot of players! Last year was the first year for Svitolina where injuries really disrupted her momentum. Will that continue into 2020 or was it a blip? Similarly you have Bencic and Andreescu, who both seem prone to injury because of their playing style. Halep has continued to have niggly injuries but been surprisingly unharmed by them in terms of success.

    Can’t wait to see how Barty approaches the year. At one point in 2019 she was invincible. It can start to go wrong pretty quickly if she loses confidence or commitment though…

    And as always there is Serena. I’ve been bewildered by how badly she’s played the past four Slam finals. The two Wimbledon finals will go down as some of her worst performances from a very long career. All she’s really missing is a title win, so I think she might put more into one of the non-Slam appearances this year. Having seen pictures of her at the beach, her body is looking phenomenal, so I think we could finally see her surpass Court this year…

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    • Agreed, Serena, she’s looking like she wants to play. And she is doubling up with Wozniacki in Auckland. Didn’t know Caroline was retiring, probably wants to start nesting ? Well, wishing her the best. But, this is as much as I will say of Serena ………come what may.

      Speaking of Halep, her influence on Andreescu, and their injuries, that run at Wimbledon and its story must have been a tremendous boost for Bianca on her USopen quest as well. If Bianca returns to the tour late from injury, I feel she could be dangerous again. More so if Halep is also having a decent season.

      Not sure why, but Barty is one I’m not worried about at all. I think it’s her temperament, the current state of the tour suits her approach come rain or sunshine. Svitolina is the one I would tiptoe around and let her play her game.

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  4. Graham, you have a point there ! This is what AO had to say last year, on their roof policy : ‘If human beings are able to go hunting in the middle of Africa, they are surely able to play one tennis match a day in Australia’ —- and I don’t think they will change any of that attitude ever …

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    • (Graham Giles again) Thanks Maarten. I think a lot depends on the players. The report I saw yesterday said that air quality in Melbourne remains poor and if this continues players would face a significant risk to their health if they play in those conditions; Novak Djokovic in particular has said that he wants the starting date of the AO to be put back (and I agree).

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      • Hi Graham, in another blog I suggested Jukapovic should ask environmentalists to take samples and go for money compensation. I wrote earlier that the AO Organizers tend to put unacceptable contraints when it comes to playing at their venue, and now, not only with the heat but also with the smoke. A lung doctor in The Netherlands explained that one day of play under peak conditions is like smoking eight dark cigarettes in two hours. That would give us an idea what eight matches under eight peak conditions would be like : longterm damage to the lungs. He also claimed the sign ‘hazardous’ should be there to obay. A former coach said that players don’t get any information unless they accidentally put on the television with the weather report. The Organizers also didn’t offer qualification play under a roof, as they suggested before the tournament as a serious option. At the same day they offered Djokovic and Co. a rally at Centre Court, with a closed roof and working air conditioning. It’s striking to me that they seem to take the health of the top players more serious than the health of the qualifiers. Liam Brady has a big point to try and stand up for the right of every sportsman : clean working conditions.

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  5. Have to admit, I switched off after the USopen last year. Have to do some homework to get me clued in again. But, my hope,as always, is for the quality of tennis to be as good or better than the previous year. Likely take the backseat and see what happens.

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  6. Graham, it’s not just the smoke, it’s also the heat. Maybe it would be a good idea to introduce a new threshold temperature, the human body temperature, 37 Celcius, to calculate maximum performance conditions outdoors and indoors ?!
    But lets focus on the purpose of this blog. British ‘Metro’ published their analysis of the WTA 2020 Tour just very recently. According to their point of view, 2020 will be all about Bianca Andreescu, hitting the rankings and dominating the tour, on hardcourt but also on gravel. What is your opinion about that ?!

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    • Thanks for replying Maarten. I think Bianca’s going to have another good season and probably win a couple of titles (don’t know about grand slams).

      Having said that I don’t have a good track record in making predictions, and predicting women’s tennis is difficult anyway because you can never tell who’s going to get injured or have a lapse of form. This time last year Naomi (Osaka) was about to win her second grand slam in a row and I thought it was the start of her pulling away from the rest of the players and becoming effectively another Serena, winning pretty much everything in sight; but although she had a good season it wasn’t to be. I also thought Angie Kerber would have a much better season than she did after she won Wimbledon the year before.

      I have very fond memories of that octopus (Paul?) that predicted all those winners in the 2010 football World Cup; maybe there’s one who could do the same for tennis?

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      • I also take your point about the heat being a problem for players as well as the smoke. Novak also said, a couple of years ago when there was a heatwave during the AO, that he thought players were then operating at the limit of their ability to cope with high temperatures (and Simona proved him right when she had to be taken to hospital after her final with Caro Wozniacki).

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      • Graham, why do they schedule Simona to play at 14.00 h, year-in year-out ?! It’s all money driven, I am afraid, but at least : Simona prepared herself in Dubai this time, let’s hope for the best of fitness in her case ! Very funny rescue money campaign, too, but I think she can make more money by counting her famous backhand-down-the-line … because this is what people would so much like to see from her, not the yelling.

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  7. “Graham, why do they schedule Simona to play at 14.00 h, year-in year-out ?”

    I don’t know. It may be that she’s one of the biggest draws in the women’s game and they figure that is the peak time when spectators are likely to turn up to watch women’s tennis.

    Good point about her backhand down the line. Belinda (Bencic)’s offered to pay $200 for every double fault on her serve, which is presumably not what people want to see from her either but I suppose it’s the thought that counts.

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  8. Credit goes to Danielle Collins (aka the Danimal apparently), who is clearly in devastating form at the moment. She lost just three games in her first two matches in Brisbane, two in her match with Elina Svitolina (one each set) and just one in what seemed to be a very one-sided match against Poots. Next up for her is her fellow American Madi Keys, who has quite a similar game so long rallies are not likely to be on the cards.

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    • From what I’ve seen so far, the Americans are generally playing well, the newer faces especially. Some love the Australian swing of the tour, Collins, Anisimova. I’m intrigued by Madison’s play, but the season is quite young, and with her, it is pretty much touch-and-go. I’ll place her with Pliskova, Svitolina, amongs others, those with somewhat ‘unfinished’ business with the Slams, as players to watch. She does play Pliskova in the final, perfect opportunity to see where their mind/game potential is at the moment.

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