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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Simona Halep wins the all Romanian battle in Cluj
Simona Halep is into the second round in Cluj after a dominant performance.
The world number 18 and the top seed managed to beat her Romanian counterpart in straight sets.
Simona Halep is through round one of the Transylvania Open, being played at the BT Arena in Cluj-Napoca, after beating a fellow Romanian Elena Gabriella Ruse in straight sets 6-1, 6-2 in one hour and 13 minutes.
The number one seed served six aces and won 83% of her first serve points in a match that seemed one-sided and Halep was pulling amazing shots and winners throughout the entire match.
“It’s not easy to face a Romanian in the first round of a Romanian tournament but I was very focused and concentrated on what I have to do and I didn’t really think of who I would play, I just wanted to play my game and I felt great on court today.”
It was actually the world 85 with the first breakpoint of the match in the first game but it was denied when Halep stepped up to the service line and fired an ace to save it.
After holding serve the world number 18 started looking for the early lead and she was able to get it after a poor service game from Ruse and after consolidating the break managed to turn it into a double break.
Halep served out the first set in a mere 29 minutes and it was clear she was the better player today.
She continued to ride the momentum into the second set and at 1-1 earned three more chances to break and broke with a stunning return winner that caught Ruse off guard for the 2-1 lead.
At 4-2, the top seed managed to go up a double break with another amazing passing shot and she served out the match and after the match in her post-match press conference, she spoke about pulling off those amazing shots on breakpoints.
“When I have a chance to do it I always do because I love these kinda shots and today it was a great one so it made me very happy.”
Halep will next face the Russian Varvara Gracheva in the next round after she beat the German Andrea Petkovic in three sets 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 on Tuesday night.
Anett Kontaveit overpowers Krunic in Cluj-Napoca
Anett Kontaveit took a step towards the WTA Finals with a straight sets win in Cluj today.
The number two seed only needed two sets and 70 minutes to beat her Serbian opponent.
Anett Kontaveit is through to the second round of the Transylvania Open, being played at the BT Arena in Cluj-Napoca, beating the Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic in straight sets 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 10 minutes.
The world number 14 served two aces and won 69% of the points on her first serve in a match where she seemed to outhit her opponent using her powerful groundstrokes.
“The match was close and it was only break in the first set and I thought I was playing pretty well and winning a lot of points on my first serve but I actually think she served well and it wasn’t an easy match and the second set got really close”.
The Estonian had the better start to the match holding serve in her opening game and putting pressure on the Serb right away earning two chances to break serve and got the early break to take a 2-0 lead.
That one break was enough for Kontaveitt to serve out the first set and take it 6-3.
The second set was a more competitive affair and it stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Tallinn, Estonia native was able to break the Serb at love to take a 3-2 lead and she was able to consolidate the break.
It stayed on serve until 4-3 when the world number 44 fought back and was able to break the Estonian serve and the set went back on serve. Once again both players did a good job holding serve until 5-5 when Kontaveit got the crucial break of serve and served out the match.
After the match in her post-match press conference, Kontaveit spoke about how she was feeling energy-wise after such a short turnaround time from winning the title in Moscow last week.
” I feel like the energy has dropped a little bit but I did manage to bring some of the energy today and still be active and be aggressive.”
Kontaveit will now face Alison Van Uytvanck in her next match after the Belgian beat Danka Kovinic in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day.
Emma Raducanu battles back to beat Hercog in Cluj
Emma Raducanu won her first match on the WTA tour after beating Polona Hercog in Cluj.
The US Open champion was pushed to the limit in a three-set win over her Slovenian opponent.
Emma Raducanu is through to round two at the Transylvania Open in Cluj-Napoca after beating the Slovenian Polona Hercog in three sets 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in a match that lasted two hours and 27 minutes.
The Brit served four aces and won 75% of her first serve points in a match that went back and forth for all three sets and had a rollercoaster feel to it and it was the first time at tour-level Raducanu played a three-set match.
“I feel really happy to have won that match it was actually very difficult and I wasn’t playing my best tennis but Polona (Hercog) is a great opponent and she is really experienced so I really had to fight hard to pull that one through.”
After holding serve in the opening service game of the match the world number 23 put pressure on Hercog’s serve right away and in a game that lasted 10 minutes, it took the Brit six break points before she was able to get the first break of serve of the match.
It stayed on serve until 4-2 when the world number 124 struck back and managed to get the break back to go back on serve and at 4-4 got the crucial break needed to serve out the first set.
The second set stayed on serve with the 18-year-old getting the first chance to break at 2-1 but Hercog saved all three break points she faced and at 4-4 it was the Slovenian applying pressure and looking for the break.
Raducanu was able to save it and hold serve and at 6-5, she found herself at set point as she managed to win it to force a third and deciding set.
Winning the second set seemed to give the Britt a boost and the motivation to keep fighting and she managed to get the early break to take a 2-0 lead and at 3-0 broke again to go up a double break.
The next game she found herself at match point but the world number 124 was able to save it and the next game Raducanu serve out the match. In her post-match press conference, she spoke about what the key was to turn the match around.
“It feels like a huge win for me and it’s my first WTA tour win which makes me very happy and I think the key was to stay mentally composed and I knew myself I wasn’t playing very well so I just needed to keep going one point at a time and I am really proud of myself how I fought today.”
Raducanu will face a Romanian in her next match on Thursday in Ana Bogden who beat the Serb Ivana Jorovic on Monday and this will be their first-ever meeting.
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