A 2014 WTA shot guide: Part 5 (overall game-plans) - UBITENNIS
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A 2014 WTA shot guide: Part 5 (overall game-plans)



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.

  • Overall aggressiveness

Being aggressive is the ultimate goal of every player, but some of them are naturally or tactically more prone to looking for winners earlier in the point.


1) Serena Williams: on serve or on return, you can always count on the world number on to step in and look for a fast ending of the point.

Maria Sharapova by Fabrizio Maccani

Maria Sharapova by Fabrizio Maccani

2) Maria Sharapova: one of the Russian’s best qualities is the ability to put a huge mental pressure on her opponents. This is derived from her will to dictate every point and every rally, from the very beginning. Many have criticized her second serve, for the many double faults it hands, but it’s the price to pay for giving no chance to attack that shot.

3) Petra Kvitova: she is the most hot-and-cold player on tour on a high level. You never know what to expect from her in terms of quality of her game on the day, but you can be sure that she will always try to finish each point as fast as possible.

Camila Giorgi by Monique Filippella

Camila Giorgi by Monique Filippella

4) Camila Giorgi: the Italian has quite a unique game for the standards of her country. There is no dead shot in her game, every ball is a chance for a winner in her tactics. It cannot always pay off, but when it does, it becomes hard to stop her.

5) Ana Ivanovic: the Serb is a capable mover, but she rather prefers to set up the point in order to close with her beloved forehand.

  • Overall defence

Some other players are natural defenders, they cannot play a high-risk game or do not possess the power to dictate their game, so they prefer to wear their opponents down until they find the space for winners.

1) Caroline Wozniacki: the former world number one is probably the best retriever the tour has seen in recent years, for which she received the nickname of Wallzniacki. She ran the NYC marathon in quite a stunning time, would you expect her to be tired after a three hours match?

2) Simona Halep: probably the most natural clay courter in the top 10, the Romanian has an amazing ability to turn defence into offence, which makes it hard to play her on any surface.

Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber

3) Angelique Kerber: you can never be sure to have closed a point against the German, until the ball bounces twice on the ground. Her speed on court is probably the highest of them all and her ability to give power to the lowest ball keeps her opponents on their toes until the point is called.

4) Agnieszka Radwanska: she moves well and anticipate even better, but when she is in trouble she can always slow down the point with a tricky slice or a smart lob.

5) Jelena Jankovic: the Serb has not had the best of her seasons, but her stunning movements and ability to absorb power make her a very dangerous opponent if you cannot keep your focus high.

  • All good, but no excellence

The title should not mislead the reader, having no bigger weapon is not necessarily a weakness, especially if you can build around having no big weaknesses your strength. If your opponent has a massive forehand, but a weak backhand, you know where to aim, but it is harder to find a lifeline if they are both as good.

1) Ekaterina Makarova: it is hard to find a big flaw in the game of the Russian, probably only the footwork can let her down, but that is about it. It is no surprise she is so often the name you do not expect to reach the later stage of slams.

Dominika Cibulkova by Fabrizio Maccani

Dominika Cibulkova by Fabrizio Maccani

2) Dominika Cibulkova: being so short is all you can blame her for not being more successful than she is. The first few months of this year, there was little she could not do.

3) Andrea Petkovic: she is probably the definition of a thoroughly built player. Her shots are the result of hundreds of thousands balls being played over and over. Her technique may not look any natural, but it is hard it will break down.

Alize Cornet by Art Seitz

Alize Cornet by Art Seitz

4) Alizé Cornet: a born clay courter, she could beat Serena Williams on hard courts and on grass, she can slice, she moves well, has a good backhand and a reliable forehand. Her biggest weakness is her unpredictable mental game.

5) Elina Svitolina: once I read on an American website “she is the best player you probably have never heard of” and there is a reason why. You can see that she has got it all, but she has not blossomed yet, so for now, she falls in this category as a starting point.

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



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



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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Ons Jabeur Hoping For Better Fortunes In Doha Despite Injury Concerns



Ons Jabeur (TUN) playing against Venus Williams (USA) on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Credit: AELTC/Jon Super

Ons Jabeur is optimistic that she will be ready in time to play at her next event in Doha after suffering an emotional exit from Dubai on Friday. 

The two-time Wimbledon finalist was in tears during her straight sets loss to Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia in the quarter-finals. Jabeur later revealed that her emotional reaction was linked to the reoccurrence of a knee injury in recent days which has troubled her in the past. She said the pain can differ at various tournaments but in Dubai, it was causing her significant discomfort. 

“I’m an open book, an emotional person. I like to show myself. One thing I have learned is to accept the emotion, and if I try to hide it, it will not make me feel good,” Jabeur told reporters in Doha at a pre-tournament press conference. 
“So it’s good to let it out and be done with it than to keep it inside and probably will make more problems for you later.”

Despite the setback, the world No.6 intends to play at the Doha Open which gets underway today. She will be the fourth seed in this year’s draw and will be playing in the event for the first time since 2022. Last year she was forced to skip the Middle East swing after having surgery to treat an enlarged nodule which was obstructing her airway and preventing oxygen from reaching her lungs. 

“I’m very happy to be back. I’m obviously happier than last year,” she said. “I’m glad to be united with my fans here, and hopefully it’s going be a great week for me.
“I have been struggling with the knee for a long time, and last week was very, very tough. Hopefully, I can recover in time and then play better here in Doha.”  

This time of the year has always meant a lot to the Tunisian, who has spoken on numerous occasions about her aim to inspire more players from her region to take up tennis. She is the first Arab player to reach a Grand Slam final, crack the top 10 in the WTA rankings and qualify for the season-ending Tour Finals. 

“It is very important to be here to connect with Arabic crowds. I feel so much love here in the region, and obviously, that’s one of the reasons I chose to play Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Dubai, because I feel so good here.” She said.

Declaring she is ‘happy’ with her rhythm on the court, Jabeur will begin her campaign in Doha against either Lesia Tsurenko or Turkish wild card Zeynep Sonmez.

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