Predicting the WTA’s Top 10 is always going to be tough with the inconsistencies in the women’s game and with the returns of Serena, Azarenka and Sharapova, 2018 is certainly going to be a fascinating year. I’ll have a go at predicting the rankings next year…
10. Angelique Kerber (Current Rank: 21)
Compared to 2016, Angelique Kerber’s 2017 season was a complete mess – dropping from No.1 to No.21 in the rankings, Kerber failed to win a title, let alone making a Premier final this season. Amassing a 29-24 win-loss record, her best results of the year was a final appearance in Monterrey, and semifinals in Dubai and Tokyo. Her game seemed like it was back in Tokyo, where she claimed her first top 20 win of the year over Karolina Pliskova. However the confidence came crashing down after a straight-sets loss to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and since then Kerber only won one more match, in Beijing.
Kerber failed to defend her two Grand Slam titles from 2016, and her best performance at a Slam this year was reaching the fourth rounds in the Australian Open and Wimbledon. However, I think Angie will rebound from the disappointments of this year and have a fairly consistent season in 2018. I’m expecting her to win a title or two, make the top 10 once more, and call me crazy but I think she’ll make another Slam final in Australia.
9. Maria Sharapova (Current Rank: 60)
Maria Sharapova’s comeback from a drugs ban was always going to be one of the top stories of the WTA 2017 season, and it delivered as Sharapova claimed her first title in Tianjin and ended the season at No.60. However there were major disappointments for her as well as she suffered a lull since Madrid, struggling with injuries until the US Open where she made her first Slam second week appearance since the 2016 Australian Open.
Sharapova’s game was plagued by inconsistencies throughout this comeback, constantly struggling with her unforced error count and the number of double faults she made. However, Maria is always a fighter and I’m sure she’ll work on them during this post-season. I’m bidding on her to have a super season in 2018 – maybe not a Slam title just yet, but definitely many second week appearances in the majors and a couple of big titles to her collection as well.
8. Kristina Mladenovic (Current Rank: 11)
Kristina Mladenovic’s 2017 was literally a season of two halves. From the beginning of the season up till Roland Garros, Mladenovic was arguably one of the best players on the tour with a 31-11 win-loss record, claiming a maiden title in St.Petersburg, and finals in Acapulco, Stuttgart and Madrid, and not to mention reaching the quarterfinals in her home Slam. However everything came crashing since then – her last win on the tour was in Washington, and currently she is now on a 12-match losing streak. (Note: she cited an injury picked up at Wimbledon as one of the causes of her losses.)
Mladenovic has such a wonderful game when she’s on fire and I’m sure she’ll end that losing streak during the first few weeks of the season. In fact, I can smell big things for her in 2018 – a couple of huge titles and runs in the Slams should be the case for the big-hitting Frenchwoman.
7. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Current Rank: 16)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova picked up three titles during the course of the season in Monterrey, Rabat and Hong Kong, but unfortunately for her failed to peak at the big stages – she failed to make it pass the second round in the last three Grand Slams of the year, and furthermore to much lower ranked players as her such as to Veronica Cepede Royg, Arina Rodionova and Christina McHale.
However, she has showed that she has potential to make big runs at the Slams as well, with a quarterfinal showing at the Australian Open. In fact, if she managed to beat Venus Williams in that round, I was sure she would be able to challenge Serena Williams in the final. I see more of those big showings for Pavlyuchenkova in 2018 – I even think she could be a dark horse for the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Now at No.16 in the rankings, I think she has potential to enter the top 10 for the first time, which I have her sitting at No.7 for next year.
6. Svetlana Kuznetsova
Sitting at No.12 in the rankings this year, Svetlana Kuznetsova actually had a really underrated season, having made the second round in all of the Slams but the US Open. Finals in Indian Wells and semifinals in Madrid added to her impressive results in 2017. Looking like a contender to qualify for the WTA Finals before the US Open, unfortunately for her, she injured her left wrist and was not able to hit two-handed backhands in Wuhan and Beijing, resulting in first-round losses which ended her bid for the Finals. Good news for her is that she seems ready for the 2018 season, after undergoing surgery during the off-season.
Kuznetsova performed well in the Slams this year and if she continues to give herself such kind of chances, a third Grand Slam title is a possibility for the flamboyant Russian. In fact, I have her winning the French Open title next year! (more on my next Predictions post)
5. Garbine Muguruza (Current Rank: 2)
Garbine Muguruza had another wonderful year this season, headlined by her second Grand Slam title in Wimbledon. As a huge-hitter though, inconsistencies are sure to plague your game and that happened to Muguruza – after the US Open, Muguruza only managed to claim only three top 50 wins, and ended her season with a 1-2 record in the round robin stage in Singapore. Injuries were also a low point in the Spaniard’s 2017, having needed to retire six times this year.
I don’t see Muguruza defending her title in Wimbledon or getting any other Slam title in 2018; however I’m sure she’ll add more Premier titles to her collection and a couple of Slam semifinals to boot.
4. Elina Svitolina (Current Rank: 6)
Elina Svitolina continues to improve her year-end ranking every season and this time, from ending 2016 at No.14, she climbed all the way to No.6 and at one point of the season, reached a career-high ranking of No.3. Svitolina’s year is headlined by her five titles, including three Premier 5s in Dubai, Rome and Toronto. She claimed 11 top 10 wins this year as well.
The main question for Svitolina is if she can finally reach a Slam semifinal, in which her closest attempt this year was in the Roland Garros quarterfinals – leading a set and 5-0 against Simona Halep, nerves plagued her and she only managed to win one more game from then on. I think she will be able to do it, but she must not get involved in battles with huge hitters in the beginning of the tournament…
3. Simona Halep (Current Rank: 1)
Ending the year in the top spot was Simona Halep’s biggest achievement to date. However there could have been more achievements for Simona – leading a set and 3-0 against Jelena Ostapenko in the French Open final, she faded from then on. She also lost in the first round in the Australian Open and US Open, but other than the Slam disappointments the season has been mostly rosy for Halep, especially the clay swing where she reached the final in Rome and FO and defending the title in Madrid.
I believe Halep will have another super consistent and excellent 2018 season, but about winning a Slam, I still need to think about it more…
2. Caroline Wozniacki (Current Rank: 3)
Caroline Wozniacki had another wonderful consistent season in 2017, reaching eight finals throughout the year. Although she lost the first six finals, she rebounded from the losing duck and got her first title of the year in Tokyo. Continuing that good form over to Singapore, she claimed wins over Elina Svitolina, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova and Venus Williams all in straight sets to claim the biggest title of her career. Wozniacki is the win leader in 2017, amassing 60 wins, including 14 top 10 wins, which she is also the leader in.
I have Wozniacki sitting at No.2 in the end of year rankings in 2018. She has a couple of parts throughout the year that she can gain points in and having not made a semifinal at any of the four majors this year, she has a huge chance to get more points. But the major question for Wozniacki is just like Halep – can she win a maiden Slam? I’m pretty optimistic about the Dane and I think she will win the US Open…
1. Karolina Pliskova (Current Rank: 4)
Karolina Pliskova ends 2017 as the fourth ranked player, in arguably which was the most consistent season of her career. Pliskova claimed three titles in Brisbane, Doha and Eastbourne, and performed decently at the Slams as well, reaching the semifinals of the French Open and quarterfinals at the Australian Open and US Open. Qualifying for the WTA Finals, I was really impressed by Pliskova with her easy power and with the super slow surface in Singapore, I was expecting her to struggle on it but she surprisingly managed to hit through the court, even against the wall Wozniacki. If she does keep it up I think she can gain more wins over counter-punchers which she can struggle against.
I think Karolina will have an amazing 2018 – other than a couple of prestigious Premier titles, I predict she will win her first Grand Slam at the Australian Open.
Other possible candidates
Serena is obviously the world’s best player when she’s on fire, but we will need to see if she still has the motivation to continue winning having had her first child last year. If she’s on, I see her winning her 24th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon.
Venus ended the year at No.5 in the rankings, but I’m not sure she can keep it up turning 38 next year. I also hope Venus will be able to win another Slam before she retires, but I have to say I don’t think so…
Petra will always be Petra, thus I don’t really see her entering the top 10 next year. But I’m sure she’ll produce some more Peak Petra performances, right? 😉
Konta split with her coach Wim Fisette at the end of the season thus I am not so sure she can continue her successes of 2017. Still, with her nature of her game, she should have a fairly consistent season and end around No.15 in 2018.
Just like Petra, Garcia will always be Garcia so she will definitely face inconsistencies. With almost nothing to defend before Roland Garros, she could enter the top 5 for the first time in her career but I don’t think she will be able to defend the ton of points during the Asian swing. Top 15 is the best I can see for Caroline.
The story of Aga’s season was viral illness (three of them to be exact!) and so she dropped all the way to No.28 in the rankings. With her game, I’m pretty sure she’ll get back to the elite soon, but I couldn’t find a place for her to fit into my top 10 haha!
Ostapenko is another inconsistent player and I don’t think she’ll be able to defend her crown at the French Open. However, with her game, we will always see occasional Peak Ostapenko appearances but I don’t think she can continue to stay in the top 10 next year. Top 20 would probably be the best for Alona.
Call me crazy again but I see Madison Keys defending her final points at the US Open next year. Unfortunately she has been struggling with that left wrist during the last two years. Once that’s healed, I see Maddy doing big things over the next few years or so.
Julia Goerges had an amazing end to 2017, winning Moscow and Zhuhai back-to-back and her fiery aggressive game is just a joy to watch when on fire. We’ll see if Julia can continue to be so consistent like this year, if she does I see her being dark horses for all the Slams.
Vika was proving to return to the top of the game, but unfortunately issues with her families resulted in her playing only two tournaments in 2017. Once that’s settled, she should return to the best very soon…
Thank you for reading this article! Hope you enjoyed it! 🙂