‘Player Spotlight’ is a new feature on the blog where we will take a closer look at lesser known players who has been quietly making waves on the tour. Today’s spotlight is on Katerina Siniakova, who recently notched her first win over a World No.1 player at the French Open.
Name: Katerina Siniakova
Age: 23 (born 10 May 1996)
Nationality: Czech Republic
Height: 175 cm
Favourite Surface: Hard court
Current Singles Ranking: No.38 (as of 10 June 2019)
Highest Singles Ranking: No.31 (22 October 2018)
Current Doubles Ranking: No.3 (as of 10 June 2019)
Highest Doubles Ranking: No.1 (22 October 2018)
Read more about Siniakova in this WTA article here
Here are some career highlights from Katerina Siniakova’s career, followed by her full list of WTA finals in singles and doubles.
1. First WTA title in Shenzhen 2017, d. Halep & Konta enroute
While Siniakova first made waves in 2016, with finalist trophies in Bastad and Tokyo (International), it was her maiden title in Shenzhen the following year where she fully announced herself on the tour. Siniakova notched a career-high ranking of No.51 in 2016 but with the win, she was finally able to make her move into the world’s top 50 (to No.37). Siniakova also scored her first two top ten victories in Shenzhen, beating a physically struggling Simona Halep 6-3 4-6 7-5 and World No.10 Johanna Konta 1-6 6-4 6-4, before dismantling Alison Riske 6-3 6-4 for the title.
2. Second WTA title in Bastad
Perhaps the expectations and pressure of being a top 50 player got to Siniakova – after winning in Shenzhen, the Czech player had only won back-to-back matches in two of her next 14 events (in Indian Wells and Prague). Coming into Bastad where she was the defending finalist, Siniakova defended all of those points, and then more as she claimed her second WTA title in Sweden. The young Czech did it in style by beating the top three seeds in the tournament – Anastasija Sevastova, Caroline Garcia and Caroline Wozniacki (which was Wozniacki’s fifth straight loss in a final then). Unfortunately, Siniakova had no opportunities to defend her title as the Bastad tournament ceased to exist in 2018. Bastad will be making a return to the tour as a WTA 125K event later this year.
3. Back-to-back Grand Slam doubles titles in Roland Garros and Wimbledon, securing No.1 doubles ranking
After a loss in the finals of Shenzhen in 2018 to Simona Halep, Siniakova continued her inconsistent ways in singles as she wasn’t able to keep her singles ranking in the top 50. While back-to-back third round appearances in Roland Garros and Wimbledon were encouraging, it was in the doubles where she excelled. Partnering with fellow Czech Barbora Krejcikova, they teamed up to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon, adding to their collection of three Grand Slam titles in juniors. Interestingly the win at the French Open ended an eight-match losing streak for Siniakova in doubles finals! Eventually Siniakova claimed the No.1 ranking in doubles for the first time at the WTA Finals in Singapore, where she kept that spot till this year’s French Open where Kristina Mladenovic ascended to No.1 for the first time in her career.
4. Back-to-back quarterfinals in Wuhan and Beijing
Siniakova continued her solid form at the Slams by reaching the third round at the US Open, after two marathon wins over Anett Kontaveit and Alja Tomljanovic. While a straight-set loss to Lesia Tsurenko would have been dispiriting, Siniakova continued to play well during the Asian swing. As a qualifier in Wuhan, Siniakova recorded wins over Marketa Vondrousova, Kristina Mladenovic, defending champion Caroline Garcia and Garbine Muguruza to reach the quarterfinals. Siniakova was at her best in Wuhan where she displayed her fighting qualities, flashy backhands and very good defensive skills to upset her higher ranked counterparts.
Her run in Beijing was less flashier but her biggest quarterfinal up-to-date propelled her into the world’s top 35, where she finally ended 2018 as No.31.
5. Leading the Czech Republic to the Fed Cup title in 2018
After her higher ranked compatriots Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova decided to end their seasons due to injuries, the Czech Republic team were left with the trio of Siniakova, Barbora Strycova and Krejcikova to fight for the championship. While the USA team had a depleted team as well without the likes of the Williams sisters, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys, the pressure was huge on Siniakova as the highest ranked player on their team. And did she deliver as she recorded a straight-set victory over Alison Riske and came through a three-hour and 45 minute battle against Sofia Kenin. Siniakova saved two match points and eventually battled past her nerves in one of the best matches of the 2018 season. Coupled with Strycova’s win over Kenin two matches earlier, the Czechs secured the Fed Cup title in a commanding 3-0 win.
6. First win over World No.1 at Roland Garros, 2019
Since her endeavours in Fed Cup, Siniakova has not come close to producing that kind of tennis in 2019. From Brisbane to Istanbul, Siniakova only won three main draw matches and suffered three defeats from players outside of the world’s top 100. Her fortunes shifted a little during the clay court swing after reaching the quarterfinals in Prague and the semifinals in Nurnburg. But it wasn’t until the French Open where she finally managed to produce the tennis she did during last year’s Fed Cup and Asian swing. After a complete rollercoaster of a match where she beat Maria Sakkari 7-6(5) 6-7(10) 6-3 in three hours and 10 minutes (Siniakova came back from 1-5 down in the first set, lost a break lead and failed to convert on two match points in the second set, won four straight games in the third set after trailing 2-3), the young Czech recorded her best win of her career in terms of ranking in a 6-4 6-2 victory over Naomi Osaka. Siniakova’s known for her mental fragility (and her love for rollercoaster matches, if you haven’t realised just yet) but it was very impressive to see her serving out the sets comfortably and being so clear in her strategy and gameplan on the court. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to keep it up in the next round, as powerful Madison Keys was just too strong for her.
Full List of WTA singles finals
- LOSS: 2016, Bastad (i. Laura Siegemund, 5-7 1-6)
- LOSS: 2016, Tokyo [International] (i. Christina McHale, 6-3 4-6 4-6)
- WIN: 2017, Shenzhen (d. Alison Riske, 6-3 6-4)
- WIN: 2017, Bastad (d. Caroline Wozniacki, 6-3 6-4)
- LOSS: 2018, Shenzhen (i. Simona Halep, 1-6 6-2 0-6)
Full List of WTA doubles finals
- LOSS: 2014, Stanford, partnering Paula Kania (i. Garbine Muguruza & Carla Suarez Navarro, 2-6 6-4 [5-10])
- WIN: 2014, Tashkent, partnering Aleksandra Krunic (d. Margarita Gasparyan & Alexandra Panova, 6-2 6-1)
- WIN: 2015, Prague, partnering Belinda Bencic (d. Kateryna Bondarenko & Eva Hrdinova, 6-2 6-2)
- LOSS: 2015, Tashkent, partnering Vera Dushevina (i. Gasparyan & Panova, 1-6 6-3 [3-10])
- LOSS: 2017, Taipei, partnering Lucie Hradecka (i. Chan Hao-Ching & Chan Yung-Jan, 4-6 2-6)
- LOSS: 2017, Indian Wells, partnering Hradecka (i. Chan Yung-Jan & Martina Hingis, 6-7(4) 2-6)
- LOSS: 2017, Charleston, partnering Hradecka (i. Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova, 1-6 6-4 [7-10])
- LOSS: 2017, Prague, partnering Hradecka (i. Anna-Lena Gronefeld & Kveta Peschke, 4-6 6-7(3))
- LOSS: 2017, US Open, partnering Hradecka (i. Chan Yung-Jan & Hingis, 3-6 2-6)
- LOSS: 2018, Shenzhen, partnering Krejcikova (i. Simona Halep & Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-1 1-6 [8-10]
- LOSS: 2018, Miami, partnering Krejcikova, (i. Ashleigh Barty & CoCo Vandeweghe, 2-6 1-6)
- WIN: 2018, Roland Garros, partnering Krejcikova (d. Eri Hozumi & Makoto Ninomiya, 6-3 6-3)
- WIN: 2018, Wimbledon, partnering Krejcikova (d. Nicole Melichar & Peschke 6-4 4-6 6-0)
- LOSS: 2018, WTA Finals Singapore, partnering Krejcikova (i. Timea Babos & Kristina Mladenovic, 4-6 5-7)
- WIN: 2019, Sydney, partnering Krunic (d. Hozumi & Alicja Rosolska, 6-1 7-6(3))
- LOSS: 2019, Indian Wells, partnering Krejcikova (i. Elise Mertens & Aryna Sabalenka, 3-6 2-6)
Looking forward to 2019 and beyond
Siniakova’s game is suited for all surfaces and she’s clearly an all-court player, as shown by her success in doubles. While she has a very solid and powerful backhand up the line, good touch at the net, and is very quick around the court, she certainly still has much room for improvement. The forehand’s not as accurate as her backhand and the second serve’s very attackable most of the time. Siniakova’s service motion in 2019 is different from her early days but it is still a very hit-or-miss shot. Coupled with her multiple outbursts on court and mental fragility, Siniakova is a very scrappy player on her off days. However when she is playing her best tennis, she can definitely be a threat to the top players of the game. She’s a really good competitor and she won’t go away without a fight. It will be interesting to see what damage she can do on the grass as she is slated to play both Mallorca and Eastbourne before Wimbledon. She’ll also have to quickly find her mojo and consistency before the tour heads to the Asian swing, where she will have a bucket of points to defend.
All information and statistics are accurate as of 14 June 2019
Thanks for reading!