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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In-Form Liudmila Samsonova Storms To Tokyo Title
Tokyo is the second tournament this year the Russian has won without dropping a set.
Liudmila Samsonova has continued her rapid surge on the Tour by defeating China’s Qinwen Zheng 7-5, 7-5, to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
The world No.30 dropped serve only once and hit four aces as she edged her way past rising star Zheng who is the first Chinese teenager to reach the final of a Tour-level singles event. Overall, Samsonova won 68% of her service points en route to becoming the first Russian player to win the tournament since Nadia Petrova in 2012.
“It’s amazing, I don’t have too many words right now. I need a little bit of time,” said Samsonova, who beat Grand Slam champions Elena Rybakina and Garbine Muguruza earlier in the draw.
“It was a really tough match. She is playing amazing. It was a nervous match, we were fighting every point. It was tough.”
Samsonova is becoming a formidable force in the women’s game and has now won 18 out of her past 19 matches. Last month she also won titles in Washington and Cleveland before reaching the last 16 of the US Open for the first time in her career at the age of 23. She is now 4-0 in tournament finals and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo this week.
“I played a high level in all my five matches. I am incredibly happy about how I managed it,” she said.
There is also a reason for Zheng to celebrate with her run in Tokyo securing her place in the world’s top 30 for the first time on Monday when the rankings are updated. Making her the first Chinese player to do so as a teenager. She is also only the second teenager to reach the final of a WTA 500 event or higher this season after Coco Gauff at the French Open.
Samsonova will also rise to a ranking high on Monday to just outside the world’s top 20.
Naomi Osaka Seeks Resurgence At Home Event After Rollercoaster Year
Former world No.1 Naomi Osaka admits that there have been more downs than ups for her this year but she is maintaining a positive outlook.
The four-time Grand Slam champion has played 22 matches so far this season with her win-loss record currently standing at 13-9. However, at her six most recent tournaments she has failed to win back-to-back matches and is currently on a four-match losing streak. Osaka also missed this year’s Wimbledon Championships due to an achilles injury.
Currently ranked 44th in the world, Osaka is hoping to break her slump at this week’s Toray Pan Pacific Open which will be held in Tokyo. It will be the first time she has played since losing to Danielle Collins in the first round of the US Open.
“I think, of course, the year has (not been) the best year for me,” Osaka said during her pre-tournament press conference. “But I think overall I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’m just happy to be healthy. Because in Europe, I did injure myself, and that was like my first injury that took me that long to get healed.
“I think life is kind of ups and downs and this one was kind of more down than up, but overall I’m pretty happy with where I am now.”
Osaka is the defending champion in Tokyo, even though she won the tournament back in 2019. The event has been cancelled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot has happened to the Japanese player since she won the title, both on and off the court. Osaka has spoken publicly about her mental health issues and took time away from the sport because of them.
“It feels really weird to hear that I’m the defending champion because it was the last time I played in 2019,” she said. “I would love to win it again, but I think just taking it one match at a time … and also just playing in front of a crowd in Tokyo again, because the Olympics was crowdless, so it will just be nice to see people.”
This year Osaka does not have a seeding in the Tokyo draw which is in stark contrast to three years ago when she was the highest-ranked player in the tournament. She will begin her campaign against Australia’s Daria Saville and could then face fifth seed, Beatriz Haddad Maia, in the last 16.
“I think every year for me since the first Slam, there’s been a lot of changes,” Osaka said. “But I think this year it has definitely been a real growing year for me. I think tennis-wise, I don’t really think I can go in a wrong direction. I feel like me as a player, my base is pretty solid. I can only really learn more about myself. I know that I am an aggressive player and I can only hope to keep doing that.”
Away from the Tour, the 24-year-old remains one of the highest-earning players in the sport. According to a report published by Forbes in August, she earned in the region of £56.2M over 12 months with $55M of that coming from off-court ventures. She has also set up her own sports agency with long-time agent Stuart Duguid, signing Nick Kyrgios as one of her clients.
“For everything off court, I think it’s really cool how tennis has let me get so many opportunities in things that I’m interested in, and it’s something I’m really happy and grateful for and I can only hope it keeps evolving.” She commented.
This week Osaka is seeking to win her first title of any sort since the 2021 Australian Open.
Simona Halep Ends 2022 Season With Nose Surgery And Mental Exhaustion
Simona Halep will return to the court in 2023.
Simona Halep has ended her season after having nose surgery and suffering from mental exhaustion in recent months.
The two-time Grand Slam champion has had a mixed season this year with the Romanian almost quitting the sport in February.
However the former world number one reunited with Patrick Mouratoglou and produced a world-class grass court season and US Hard court swing to get back into the world’s top ten.
Despite this, Halep has also had her troubles having had a panic attack at Roland Garros and struggled with anxiety.
This was all produced by the Romanian in her statement when she announced she would not play the rest of the season due to a nose surgery which has been linked to her breathing.
Now Halep will look to recover mentally and physically in time for January’s Australian Open as she will look to become a Grand Slam champion for the third time in her career.
Simona Halep’s 2022 Season:
Melbourne Summer Set 1: Champion
Australian Open: R4 l. Cornet
Dubai: Semi-Finals l. Ostapenko
Qatar: R1 l. Garcia
Indian Wells: Semi-Finals l. Swiatek
Madrid: Quarter-Finals l. Jabeur
Rome: R2 l. Collins
Roland Garros: R2 l. Q. Zheng
Birmingham: Semi-Finals l. Haddad Maia
Bad Homburg: Semi-Finals l. Andreescu
Wimbledon: Semi-Finals l. Rybakina
Washington: R2 l. Kalinskaya
Cincinnati: R2 – Withdrew
US Open: R1 l. Snigur
Roberto Bautista Agut beats Felix Auger Aliassime to reach the second round at the Astana Open
Barbora Krejcikova wins her first title of the season in Tallin
Iga Swiatek Demands Talks With ITF And WTA After Withdrawing From Billie Jean King Cup
Marc Andrea Huesler earns the first title of his career in Sofia
Novak Djokovic wins his third title of the season in Tel Aviv
Roger Federer To Make Last-Minute Decision Over Laver Cup Participation, Says Coach
Juan Martin Del Potro Reveals Physical And Mental Trauma From Tennis Retirement
Should Roger Federer Become A Super Coach? Djokovic And Murray Give Their View
Andy Murray Calls For Earlier Start To Davis Cup Ties After Great Britain Loses Late-Night Thriller
Carlos Alcaraz Is Playing At 60% Of His Potential, Says Coach Ferrero
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) ITF President David Haggerty ’Satisfied’ With Davis Cup Format Despite Issues
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) ITF President David Haggerty Reacts To Federer’s Retirement
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Elena Rybakina’s Wimbledon Win Was Good But The Level Wasn’t Great
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE): Novak Djokovic Battles Past Norrie, Faces Kyrgios In The Final
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Brad Gilbert Makes A Bold prediction on Sinner, Backs Kyrgios To Trouble Nadal
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