This is the annual post on Moo’s Tennis Blog where I have a bash at predicting next year’s season ending WTA rankings. 2020 was actually a decent year of predictions on MTB although they were heavily affected by the COVID hiatus. Please sound off in the comments with your top ten predictions and also post your top 10 on Women’s Tennis Blog here for a chance to win a new tennis racquet!
10. Karolina Pliskova
This is the lowest position i’ve had Pliskova at in my WTA predictions since 2015. I think that Pliskova has become increasingly passive and her performance at the Slams has become a bit of a mental thing. I’m interested to see whether a new coaching change, pairing up with Sascha Bajin, will make any difference. I think there will be less attention on Pliskova in 2021 which will probably be favourable. I am selling stocks in Pliskova rather than buying.
9. Elina Svitolina
A fall from grace in my top 10 as Svitolina drops from one to nine! I think this is a reaction to Svitolina’s French Open quarter-final loss where she had a prime opportunity to go all the way but didn’t rise to the occasion. Against many players, Svitolina’s retrieving and excellent movement are good enough for the win. To triumph at a Slam, and to be number one too, I think she has to be bolder in some of these big matches. I’ve always admired Svitolina’s resilience and she relishes in proving doubters wrong. I would be delighted to be proven wrong!
8. Jennifer Brady
I would never have contemplated Jen Brady in the top 10 a few years ago! I’ve gone for Brady because of her commitment to improve her game and the consistency of her recent results. She had a sensational run to the semi-finals at the US Open. That was not an isolated result. Her serve and forehand are such big weapons. I don’t think there’s much that can go wrong. She has proven that she can compete, both physically and mentally, with the best players in the world.
7. Petra Kvitova
Kvitova’s back in my top 10 after a few years out. Kvitova was one of just two players to reach the last 16 at the 2020 Slams. The Czech player has become increasingly reliable while still maintaining that super aggressive edge. I think Kvitova is still hungry for success and to win that elusive third Slam. I fancy Kvitova to make another Slam final in 2021.
6. Iga Swiatek
I’ve gone back and forth with Iga Swiatek. There are no data points since winning the French Open so we don’t know how Swiatek is going to cope with the increased expectation and attention. I am hesitant because her tour level results were mediocre in 2020. However, her Slam results have been consistently excellent. The French Open run, while obviously peak, felt sustainable in the way that she played. I’m not going for any more Slams in 2021 but I do think Swiatek will establish herself as consistent threat in tour level events and reach a couple more Slam quarter-finals and semi-finals.
5. Sofia Kenin
Sofia Kenin was my success from the WTA predictions for 2020! The most impressive aspect of Kenin’s year was how she managed to build on her Australian Open title and break the mould to be one of the few players not to experience much of a letdown after winning their first Slam title. I think we will see consistency from Kenin in 2021 without the big Slam win. In my opinion, Kenin will be a permanent mainstay in the world’s top ten for the foreseeable future.
4. Ash Barty
There’s not a great deal of data points for Ash Barty as she hasn’t played any tournaments since Doha in February. If she’s healthy and commits to travelling to tournaments then Barty is a dead cert for the top ten in my opinion. This is because Barty rarely throws in shockers and has a really solid base level so often beats the players you would expect her to beat. I think Barty is due a big run at Wimbledon so she remains as my SW19 pick!
3. Garbiñe Muguruza
I’ve gone for the full-on resurgence of Muguruza. The Spaniard was a tad unlucky with the 2020 rankings. She probably would have cracked the top ten last year in a normal season. The partnership with Conchita Martinez is a match made in heaven. I still have my Muguruza doubts, notably that performance at the French Open against Danielle Collins. Still, she’s a terrific competitor who is a proven performer at the Slams who can turn it on without much warning. French Open title next year? Why not. I’ll keep predicting it until it happens 😂.
2. Simona Halep
Halep has appeared in my WTA predictions for the last eight years and this is actually the highest ever position! I feel she has the monkey off her back with two Slams to her name and she was the most consistent player in tour level events in 2020. I don’t see that changing in 2021. Definitely a contender at the Slams.
1. Naomi Osaka
A bit of a change-up for 2021. After three straight years of going for Svitolina, my number one for the 2021 season-end rankings is Naomi Osaka. I was so impressed with Osaka in 2020 and I thought her best was THE best on tour. Her clutchness in the big matches was unrivalled. I think Osaka will win at least one more Slam in 2021. It’s the first time in a while that i’ve actually considered that one player could win multiple Slams in the same year. I’m most intrigued to see how Osaka gets on on clay and grass where she famously struggled in 2019. I think she can do damage on grass, even if she doesn’t believe it yet.
Best of the rest:
Victoria Azarenka: I can’t make my mind up on Azarenka. Her resurgence from Cincy onwards was one of my favourite things that happened in tennis in 2020. I guess I am still wary whether Vika can maintain that level of consistency to be top 10. There’s definitely more to come though. Top 15.
Maria Sakkari: I think Sakkari will be knocking on the door of the top 10. Sakkari is a tremendous competitor and made steady strides in the Slams last year. Sakkari to make a Slam semi-final in 2021. Top 15.
Serena Williams: I wouldn’t be surprised if this is Serena’s last full season on the tour. Wimbledon will surely be her best chance to win #24. I always have Serena on the edge of the top ten, purely because she plays a limited schedule. This year I have her just on the outskirts. Top 15.
Bianca Andreescu: Struggled with this one. A healthy Andreescu is top 5 for sure. After so many injuries in the past two years, i’m cautious. Top 15.
Belinda Bencic: Like Barty above, very few data points from 2020. Still a bit wary about injuries. Still feel the best is yet to come with Bencic. Top 15.
Amanda Anisimova: Still high on Anisimova. Considered top ten this year but I think it’s a bit too early taking into account everything that she has had to deal with off court. There were some very erratic displays in 2020 so i’m hoping to see less of them in 2021. Top 20.
Karolina Muchova: Still in love with Muchova’s game. I’ve tempered my expectations a tad as I think it’s going to be tough to break into the top 10 right now. Muchova has the talent and oozes quality, in a similar mould to Barty, but I don’t think the consistency and clutchness is quite there yet. I’d like to see Muchova improve her return. Top 20.
Aryna Sabalenka: I want to be convinced by Sabalenka but i’m not there yet. She’s due a big Slam run. I think it’s one of those ones that I won’t believe until it actually happens! Top 20.
Dayana Yastremska: Of all of the up-and-comers, Yastremska is probably the one that is most likely to go on an Ostapenko-like tear and win a Slam out of absolutely nowhere. Not convinced about consistency yet for top 10. Top 25.
Marie Bouzkova: Desire, commitment and exemplary attitude will take Bouzkova far. Top 25.
Leylah Fernandez: Impressed with Fernandez’s steady progress on the WTA tour. She belongs. Similar feeling to Bouzkova but probably with a higher trajectory. Top 25.
Coco Gauff: Difficult to disentangle Gauff from all the hype. Serving yips held her back a bit in 2020 but she still posted some fantastic results and is way ahead of the curve. Moving on up. Top 30.
Shelby Rogers: Encouraging signs in 2020. Underrated. Top 30.
Caty McNally: Love McNally’s game. Top 50.
Marta Kostyuk: Stalled a little after breaking through so young in 2018 but some wonderful flourishes in 2020. To keep rising in 2021. Top 50.
Clara Tauson: My guess for the biggest rankings jump in 2021 and the next newcomer of the year. Tauson won me over at the French. Surely not a flash in the pan?! Top 50.
Australian Open: Osaka
French Open: Muguruza
US Open: Osaka