A 2014 WTA shot guide: Part 1 (Serve and Forehand) - UBITENNIS
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A 2014 WTA shot guide: Part 1 (Serve and Forehand)

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TENNIS WTA SHOT GUIDE – It is offseason time, so Ubitennis is having a look at the past year and rating the WTA players for their abilities in each of the fundamentals of tennis.

Season is officially over now. Fed Cup has been won, the Finals have given their verdict and the ranking has finally been decided.

Yes, 2014 is over for tennis fans, but in a little more than a month, the next season will start and, as usual, every player will be immediately tested for all the hard work they will have put in these weeks away from international competitions.

But before this will happen, we thought it would be interesting to redact a guide to the best ground strokes and fundamentals that shone during the past season, as to set a standard for the next one and check who will improve or decline in each section.

  • Serve

Service must come first in this analysis. Not only it is the first shot in every rally, but it can make a great difference on crucial points. In women’s tennis, it has often served a minor role, but more players are exploiting a bigger serve. However, in this ranking, not only the number of aces has been taken into account, but also the general value of the serve: variety, effectiveness, speed and reliability.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyxyrPk8IKs

1) Serena Williams: she hit the most aces on tour, when in trouble, she can count on cheap points from her serve and she has many solutions from the heavy flat ball, to an accurate slice.

2) Karolina Pliskova: the Czech player has one of the most interesting serves on tour. She can hit with lots of power without losing in placement, but she can also use a great kick on both first and second serve, as well as a tricky slice.

Petra Kvitova by Art Seitz

Petra Kvitova by Art Seitz

3) Petra Kvitova: two girls from the same country are in the top three, Kvitova’s serve comes as second because, depending on her fitness, it can turn into a disaster movie, even though it often is her lifeline. It is no surprise this was the biggest weapon that took her to the second Wimbledon title.

4) Sam Stosur: yes, the Australian has been playing well under her standards during the year, but that does not take anything away from her serve. Her kick remains the best on women’s game.

5) Sabine Lisicki/Coco Vandeweghe: two players with a similar situation, great technique, amazing power and the ability of hitting as many aces as they wish in a single match. For both, however, a rather unstable mentality can make all the good job done with the serve go wasted.

  • Forehand

In many commentary boxes, there seems to be an ongoing idea that in the game of tennis forehands are the best shots of men, backhands of women. Well the five, and many more, names which follow clearly do not agree.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73p1bSov88M

1) Serena Williams: when she is on a bad day, this is the only attackable side of the world number one, but on any other day, you do not want to start a cross court battle with her on this side. In the past few years, she also added some spin when in defence, which made it a thoroughly solid shot.

2) Ana Ivanovic: the blasting flat shots of the former world number one have finally reacquired strength and consistency. After years of anonymity, she shook the dust off and is back hitting the most incredible forehands of the tour.

3) Petra Kvitova: second third placement for the Czech. Her forehand is devastating, especially when she can hit without big movements. Cross court, down-the-line, from the middle, it makes no difference, when she is on, it is hard to stop any of these.

Samantha Stosur - Internazionali d'Italia 2014 - Roma (by Monique Filippella)

Samantha Stosur – Internazionali d’Italia 2014 – Roma (by Monique Filippella)

4) Sam Stosur: the Australian’s game revolves around this particular shot. Her serve-forehand combination is one of the deadliest of recent years, but contrary to the names above, her shot is not a big flat stroke. Her topspin is tricky to deal with, but at the same time, the ball travel as fast as a flat hit.

5) Lucie Safarova: another lefty in the ranking. For years, she has been underperforming when it most counted, making it hard to believe she would live up her potential. A semifinal at Wimbledon was a big change, something that could not have happened without this particular shot.

To be continued next week, who will be the best 5 on the backhand side?

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Maria Sakkari Appoints Witt As Coach For American Swing

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Maria Sakkari - WTA Washington 2023 (foto Twitter @mubadalacitidc)

Maria Sakkari has enlisted the help of Jessica Pegula’s former long-time coach in a bid to regain her form on the Tour. 

Greek media has confirmed that the world No.9 has begun a partnership with David Witt, who has also previously coached Venus Williams. Witt had worked with Pegula since 2019 before the tennis star decided to end their collaboration earlier this year. During their time together he oversaw the American win two WTA 1000 events, reached the quarter-final of a grand Slam on six occasions and peaked at a ranking high of No.3. 

Sakkari’s appointment comes after she ended her six-year working relationship with Tom Hill. Highlights of their partnership include winning two Tour titles, reaching a Grand Slam semi-final twice and spending more than two years in the top 10. 

“Tom, thank you for all the emotions, the support on and off the court, and the belief you had in me since day one,” Sakkari wrote on Instagram last month. “We grew together, and you helped me realize that everything is possible.

“Not only did you make me a better tennis player, but you also made me a better person. Thank you for always wanting the best for me and for always having my back! Good luck on the next chapter in your career.”

Sakkari is looking to get back on track after what has been a disappointing start to 2024. She had won just two matches in her first four singles tournaments played and is yet to face an opponent ranked in the world’s top 20. However, she faired better at the United Cup, where she won three matches in the team event, including victories over Lelylah Fernandez and Angelique Kerber. 

It is understood that Sakkari will be working with Witt at both Indian Wells and Miami. If their partnership is successful, it could be extended further into the clay swing. The other members of her team will remain in the same roles. 

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Karolina Pliskova Finding Her Footing With The Help Of New Coach Krajan

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Karolina Pliskova (CZE) playing against Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Karolina Pliskova’s resurgence on the Tour comes at a time when she has formed a new partnership with a well-known coach. 

After her first round loss at the Australian Open to Elena Rybakina, the Czech won nine consecutive matches on the Tour. In Romania, she claimed her 17th WTA title at the Winners Open before reaching the semi-finals of a WTA 1000 event in Doha. However, she was unable to play her semi-final clash against Iga Swiatek due to a lower back injury. During this period she has improved her ranking from 77th to 36th. 

Pliskova began the season without a coach at her side but is now working with Croatia’s Zeljko Krajan. A partnership she believes is showing promising signs already. 

“Personality-wise, I think he’s kind of similar to me,” Pliskova told WTA Insider. “Not really high or low. Relaxed and very like calm. 
“We didn’t really plan yet anything because now the schedule was difficult. I might be in qualifying in Indian Wells. Maybe I enter San Diego. So I don’t really know what’s gonna be. I’m just living day by day at the moment.” 

Krajan has worked with a series of players on both the WTA and ATP Tour’s. He guided Dinara Safina to three Grand Slam finals between 2008 and 2010. He has also worked with Borna Coric, Laura Robson, Marcos Baghdatis, Jelena Jankovic and Dominika cibulkova.

Pliskova, who is a former world No.1 and two-time Grand Slam finalist, has endured a roller-coaster journey on the Tour in recent months with mixed results. Last season she failed to win back-to-back matches at 11 consecutive tournaments. 

So how has she managed to regain her form on the Tour?

“Motivation was never really a problem for me,” Pliskova said. “If I go on the court no matter how bad or good I feel, I always want to win. I always want to compete. 
“But my game is based on confidence and I need to feel that. Even if I’m not playing well or winning many matches, I just need to find that confidence in that moment or in that game because it’s just so risky. My shots are so flat, so I go for mostly lines. If something is not going well or you start to doubt, then of course you miss a little bit. Everything is about this.”

Unseeded at this week’s Dubai Tennis Championships, Pliskova beat China’s Zhang Shuai in the first round. She will next play Ashlyn Krueger in the second round on Tuesday.

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Elena Rybakina Eases Past Kasatkina To Win Abu Dhabi Open

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Elena Rybakina has captured her second title of the season after beating an erratic Daria Kasatkina in straight sets at the Abu Dhabi Open. 

The world No.5 stormed to a 6-1, 6-4, win over the Russian in just over an hour. It is the third time in Rybakina’s career that she has beaten Kasatkina on the Tour and she now leads their head-to-head 3-2. The triumph comes a month after she won the Brisbane International, which is also a WTA 500 event. 

Rybakina’s latest match saw her capitalise on her opponent’s costly mistakes. Kasatkina struggled with her serve throughout the majority of the final and only managed to hold twice in eight attempts. Opening the door for the former Wimbledon champion who hit 17 winners against 12 unforced errors en route to victory. 

“I want to thank the fans who came this week,” said the new champion. “It has been an amazing atmosphere, especially to see flags from Kazakhstan. It means a lot, thank you so much.”

A one-sided 25-minute opening set saw Rybakina claim four straight games to clinch an early lead. During to the opener, Kasatkina only managed to win 26% of her service points. It was the fourth time in the tournament that the Kazakh had won a set by conceding two or fewer games. 

Fortunately for world No.14 Kasatkina and the crowd, there was more of a battle in the second frame. Twice in a row Rybakina worked her way to a break advantage before losing it in the following game. Then at 4-4, she dealt the decisive blow by hitting a clean forehand winner to break yet against and this time had a chance to serve for the title. With the rain starting to fall, she converted her first championship point with the help of another error from across the net. 

The defeat for Kasatkina comes a day after she came through a marathon three-hour semi-final match before criticising the WTA over their tournament scheduling. She is currently set to play in the Qatar Open with her opening match taking place tomorrow. It is the sixth time in a row she has been beaten by a top-five player on the Tour. 

“Congratulations to Elena, you’ve had a great week,” she said.
“Thanks to my team who has always been next to me. I am really proud of the job we’ve done and how we are doing. Thanks for always believing in me.”

Rybakina also referred to the demanding calendar during the trophy presentation. 

“Tough week (for Kasatkina), especially the last matches. Tomorrow there is already a match in Doha but hopefully, we will both recover and do well there. Maybe also play (against each other) in the final there,” she said. 

Unlike Kasatkina, Rybakina has a first round bye in Doha. She has now won seven WTA trophies so far in her career. 

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