Why a Grand Slam Title Seems Almost Impossible for Women Born in the 90s - UBITENNIS
Connect with us


Why a Grand Slam Title Seems Almost Impossible for Women Born in the 90s

Petra Kvitova is to date the only player born in the 90s who has managed to win a Grand Slam title. Why is it so hard for women born after 1990 to win a major title? Who can follow in the Czech’s footsteps? Our detailed analysis.



Original piece by AGF for UbiTennis.com


This beginning of the 2016 season on the women’s side has been highlighted with uncertainty and surprising results. Not many thought Angelique Kerber could win the Australian Open in Melbourne, or that Serena Williams would finish the month of March with no titles under her belt. After Miami we can surely say that Victoria Azarenka is in poll position to dominate the hard court season later this year, considering the level she showcased both in Indian Wells and Miami. That said, winning a Grand Slam title is another story, something the Belarusian has already managed to achieve twice. In the past years there have been majors with surprise winners, the most famous not-predicted winners being Samantha Stosur (Us Open 2011), Marion Bartoli (Wimbledon 2013) and Flavia Pennetta (Us Open 2015).

In this flow of uncertainty only one thing seems recurrent: Players born in the 90s can’t win a major title, with the only exception to the rule being Petra Kvitova, who with her 2 Wimbledon titles (2011 and 2014) is to date the only player born after December 31 1989 who has managed to win a Grand Slam.

When Petra won her firs title at the Championships in London beating Sharapova 6-3 6-4 in the final, almost no one predicted that in the following 5 years no player aged like Petra or younger would end up not winning a major title. No player with less than 26 years of age now can count a Grand Slam title in their palmares. It doesn’t really make sense then to talk about the absence of ”young” winners, as also players in their middle age can’t seem able to win a major title .

Here is a table to show the 55 players born in the 90s currently ranked in the top 100. The doesn’t follow the place these players occupy in the rankings, but on their date of birth. For each player we have indicated the best result achieved in a major tournament:


Players Born in 1990

A part from Petra Kvitova the other star player born in 1990 is Caroline Wozniacki. She was the first player of her generation to reach a Grand Slam final, in 2009 at the US Open. The Dane was only 19 years old back then, and she managed to tie that result 5 years after, losing to Serena Williams in the final in New York in 2014. In both major finals Caroline lost in straight sets. The absence of major titles won haunted Wozniacki when she was World No.1, for 67 weeks between 2010 and 2012.

Even though the final was reached just over a year ago, the strong second half of 2014 from Caroline has been so far the only highlight from the Dane. Wozniacki has entered a downfall which today has brought her outside the top 20. Aged like Petra and Caroline are also Cornet and Barthel, who have done well on the WTA tour, but never went too far in a Grand Slam tournament.

Players born in 1991

Simona Halep is the player born in 1991 who has gotten closer to a major title, when she lost in three sets to Maria Sharapova in the final of the 2014 French Open, won by the Russian with the final score of 6-4, 6-7, 6-4.  After that result Simona has reached 2 major semi-finals, at Wimbledon (2014) and the US Open (2015).

Recently a player that has grabbed the spotlight has been the Brit Johanna Konta. Johanna has reached the semi-finals recently at the Australian Open this year, thanks to a good consistency and ability to be proactive in the points. Konta’s rise took eyes off  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who has reached her best Grand Slam result in 2011, with the quarter-finals reached both at Roland Garros and the US Open, before starting her decline. Better than the Russian in the Slams has recently been Coco Vandeweghe, who has reached the last 8 at Wimbledon last year, losing to Sharapova.

Other failed promises in the major events are Camila Giorgi and Bojana Jovanovski, who have both reached the 4th round as their best result in a major.

Players born in 1992

Only 5 players born in 1992 feature in the top 100 of the WTA rankings. That is half the number of representatives compared to the year before and after. Only one player is ranked in the top 50, and none able to win more than 2 consecutive matches in a major event.

That is quite a negative stat, especially for Karolina Pliskova, capable of entering the top 10, but who has never gone too far in a Grand Slam.

Players born in 1993

Compared to 1992, the year 1993 seems better off. Some of these players have already been able to go far in the main draw of a major event. Garbine Muguruza has finished Runner-up at Wimbledon 2015, Sloane Stephens was a semi-finalist in 2013 at the Australian Open. Other players seem able to further improve and feature in the latter stages of a Grand Slam tournament, such as Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia. Also Monica Puig has looked able to improve her tennis to climb the rankings.

Currently the Spaniard is atop of the pack, but the other players could still tie Garbine’s results or even do better, considering their potential.

Players born in 1994

Players born in 1994 are the most numerous in the top 100 of players born in the 90s, with a total of 12 representatives. Eugenie Bouchard is clearly the first player that comes to mind speaking of success in major events. The Canadian has reached the final at Wimbledon in 2014 and the semis in the same year in Melbourne and Paris. But after her crisis in 2015, she is now behind  Svitolina, Schmiedlova, Gavrilova, Gasparyan, Beck.

Maybe here there is not the amount of talent we can witness in players born in 1993, but this is the year that produces the most top 50 players of all. As many of these players seem able to further improve and climb the rankings, it is possible and quite likely that other players in this year will go far in the majors.

Players born in 1995

Starting with the year 1995 we have to consider the precocity factor. Talented players are yet to showcase what they can really do, but the potential could be there. There are only 4 players born in 1994 that feature in the top 100, but there could be more coming in soon.

Surely, Madison Keys is atop of the pack here, with the semi-finals reached in 2015 at the Australian Open and the potential to win major titles with her aggressive and powerful tennis.

Players born in 1996

It seems too early to consider the players born in 1996, who will turn 20 this year and will have a chance to show what they are made of later on.

Players born in 1997

Despite what said for 1995 and 1996, the year 1997 doesn’t seem to need extra time to show what its girls are made of. There are already three players ranked in the top 100 and with high average rankings. Belinda Bencic is World No.8 and has already reached the quarters in a major, then there is Jelena Ostapenko (39) and Daria Kasatkina (36). All these players, also including Ana Konjhu, have managed to win at least one match in a Grand Slam tournament.

Who are the best candidates to win a Grand Slam?

To get the monkey off the back a player born in the 90s will have to win a major title, to join Petra Kvitova and break the jinx.

It is not easy to pick one player who above the others should sooner rather than later grasp a major trophy in her hands. The best pics come from even years. Simona Halep (1991) could be the top pic, followed by Garbine Muguruza (1993), Madison Keys (1995) and Belinda Bencic (1997). Other options could be Johanna Konta (1991), Sloane Stephens and maybe later Mladenovic and Garcia (all 1993).

We can’t forget how Eugenie Bouchard (1994) has gotten shy of just one match of winning a Slam. Genie has to find her way back and she probably will, in time not to have her talent wasted. Finally, there is hope for Karolina Pliskova (1992) to pass her fear of majors.

Even though Petra Kvitova has won her firs title 5 years go, it doesn’t really mean that players in the 90s should win a major very soon indeed. Chances are that Petra will probably not be alone for ever, but players from the 80s are all but gone or ready to leave the top of the game. After all, this seems to be Azarenka’s year, and she was born in 1989…


Iga Swiatek’s Ultimate Reflection: From Rome Heartbreak To Breakthrough Triumph

Iga Swiatek ultimate reflection has taught us the physiological demands of being an athlete.



Iga Swiatek’s life has changed over the last few years and now the world number one reflects on the defeat that defined the success that followed over the last few years.


Picture the scene. It was the 15th of September, 2020. The world was continuing to go through a traumatic time with the COVID-19 Pandemic six months in and tennis had just restarted a few months earlier in America.

A young 19 year-old called Iga Swiatek had just burst onto the scene having dominated the ITF tour and also conquered Grand Slam juniors. The Pole had won Roland Garros doubles with Caty McNally and followed that up by winning Wimbledon in singles.

Swiatek’s transition to the main tour was taken to like a duck to water as she reached her first final in Lugano in 2019 in April. That was followed by a decent showing at Roland Garros, reaching the last 16 before being demolished by former champion Simona Halep.

However at a young age, Swiatek had showed she can compete with the very best and more success was predicted for the Pole in the future.

Although nobody would predict was about to follow over the next few years with Swiatek eventually winning two Roland Garros titles and becoming one of the most dominant world number one’s in recent history.

Before we get to tennis domination, Swiatek had to go through what every athlete has to go to and that’s defeat.

It was in the Italian capital right before Swiatek’s first Grand Slam title in 2020 that the Pole suffered a massive setback as she would lose the most significant match in her career.

On the 15th of September 2020, Iga Swiatek went out in the first round to Arantxa Rus 7-6(5) 6-3.

A shocking defeat for Swiatek, who had high expectations for Rome and was looking to build some last minute momentum before her favourite Grand Slam of the year.

It was a career defining defeat for Swiatek though as she would win Roland Garros a few weeks later, claiming her first of three Grand Slam singles titles so far.

Three years later, Swiatek returned to Rome as the world number one and as defending champion ahead of her second Roland Garros title defence coming up in Paris.

In the Italian capital, Swiatek gave the ultimate reflection of that defeat to Rus that changed her career:

“Well, it wasn’t easy honestly. It was pretty tricky part of my career. I mean, I just started, but career,” Swiatek reflected on after her 6-0 6-0 demolition of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

“Well, this match, I remember it like a pretty traumatic one. She played, like, high balls. It really worked here on this slow surface. I couldn’t manage that properly. I was making a lot of mistakes. I didn’t feel really well.

“Then I remember we had some serious talks with the team on what to change and how to, like, reset, what I should do to feel a little bit better. I came home to practice, and that period of time wasn’t, like, easy at all. I also probably had some expectations because it was clay and I knew that I can do better. Yeah, it was really, really hard.

“Even when I came on Roland Garros, I remember just being on the Jean Bouin before the tournament, practicing there. I literally had the talk with Daria if it makes sense to continue everything because I felt so bad. I felt like, I don’t know, my expectations were just pretty high. I felt really bad on court. Always tense and stressed, even when I was practicing.

“I was able to kind of just really, really reset and let it go. I remember I was practicing I think with Kiki Mladenovic. We made a bet, me and Daria, if I’m finally going to have one practice that is going to be without any drama. I don’t remember what’s bet was for, but I remember it was about not having drama on practice, just playing one practice that is going to be calmer than most of my practices, but this is the goal.

“Since then, I managed on this tournament to kind of let everything go. Honestly, when I played my first rounds in Roland Garros 2020, I thought I played so bad that I can’t go lower, so I’m just going to play and see how it goes. Then I won couple of matches. I was like, Okay, what’s going on? Why am I suddenly winning?

“I managed to keep that till the end of the tournament. That’s why my win last year on Roland Garros felt much more special, because I felt like I’m in the right place. In 2020 it all felt like it’s like a big coincidence that I’m even here in the final of Roland Garros, for example. It was a tough time for me.

“Looking overall, I wouldn’t say that my 2020 season was good. I would say I only played well on Roland Garros. I don’t even know why, so… I’m pretty happy that I, like, worked through that experience and actually understood that lowering expectations, just letting everything go, was honestly the key. I tried to repeat that throughout all these years.”

Swiatek’s answer to a question about a defeat that defined her career shows her maturity and world-class talent on and off the court.

A teenager to identify her vulnerabilities and weaknesses is not easy let alone bringing people in to work on solutions.

Swiatek’s Roland Garros victory in 2020 was the start of a few years of success but almost ended in dramatic fashion having gone through stress throughout the tournament.

However it was a blessing in disguise as the Pole was able to identify long-term solutions for problems that relate to stress for the future as well as creating an environment that proves that she can still win the big tournaments.

Now Swiatek is stronger mentally than she ever has been, who knows if she’ll win a fourth Grand Slam title in Paris this year but the formula has been set for future success.

Swiatek’s ultimate reflection has taught us that the Pole is well on course to dominate the sport and create a legacy for many other young athletes on how to diagnose psychological problems.

Continue Reading


The sorrows of the young Sinner



How strong is Jannik Sinner really? How the renaissance of Italian tennis deflated in Rome…


By Ubaldo Scanagatta

What could have been a memorable fortnight in Rome, despite some questionable scheduling and court quality, was hampered not only by the dire weather but also by the Italian players, who didn’t live up to the expectations. For the first time since 2019 no Italian, man or woman, featured in the quarterfinals. 

Jannik Sinner had reached the quarter finals one year ago, where he was defeated by Tsitsipas (76 62). In 2021 Lorenzo Sonego had an outstanding run to the semifinals, putting away Thiem and Rublev, and was only halted by Djokovic. Matteo Berrettini made it to the quarterfinals in 2020, where he lost to Ruud. 

Have we been overly trumpeting a Renaissance of Italian tennis in these years?

If we delve into the matter, we cannot really blame Matteo Berrettini for missing Internazionali BNL d’Italia two times in a row because of an endless string of injuries, neither can we criticize Lorenzo Sonego and Lorenzo Musetti for losing in straight sets against Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 5 in the world and one of the best clay specialists, a two-time winner in Montecarlo, finalist in Roland Garros 2021 and Rome 2022. And Marco Cecchinato, while brushing away Bautista Agut, flashed glimmers of his heyday, namely 2018-19 when he reached the semifinals in Paris and a peak ranking at No.16.

Sonego even had two setpoints in the second set, which he didn’t play so brilliantly. Musetti had snatched a break in the second set but let the Greek back in before fatally dropping serve in the 12th game, just like in the first set. When the points get tight, the gap between the top players and the others suddenly widens.

There is no doubt that the great disappointment came when Jannik Sinner unexpectedly lost to Francisco Cerundolo. Throughout his young career the Argentinian had already beaten three top ten players (Ruud, Rublev and Auger-Aliassime) and is a tough hurdle to clear on clay, but the way he disposed of Sinner in the last two sets with a double 62 was discomforting.    

A great disappointment because expectations were immense, considering that in the three Masters 1000 he played this year he had reached one final (Miami) and two semifinals (Indian Wells and Montecarlo).

 Djokovic and Alcaraz, were the first two favourites for the title. But Sinner was rated as a third pick. And once Alcaraz and Djokovic were most unexpectedly ousted from the tournament he appeared as a likely winner. Also because Tsitispas hadn’t got off to brilliant start of clay season; Ruud had been struggling even more and Medvedev had never won a match in this previous four participations in Rome. 

So is Sinner really as strong as here in Italy we say he is? Only Einstein could answer: it’s all relative.

Of course he’s a strong player. And it’s likely he’s going to stay in the top 10 for a long time. Much longer than Panatta, Barazzutti and Fognini did. Probably also than Berrettini, who has already been in the top ten longer than the three I mentioned, though helped by  favourable circumstances, like the frozen rankings due to Covid.

How strong is he? Well, it depends on who we compare him with. If we look at his birth certificate, we cannot but think of Carlitos Alcaraz and Holger Rune.

Well, perhaps we have a little exaggerated, spurred by patriotism and craving for a true Italian champion, who has been missing since Panatta. Because the results achieved by Alcaraz, a Major and 4 Masters 1000, as well as No. 1 of the ATP ranking are quite different. It’s true that Jannik has beaten him on 3 occasions out of 6, at Wimbledon, Umag and Miami, not to mention the epic match at the US Open when he lost in 5 sets after having a match point. But this simply means that Alcaraz suffers his game, his powerful hitting from the baseline. In this sense there’s not such a huge gap, but many other aspects have to be taken into account.

Which are Jannik’s limits, compared with the current No. 1 in the world? Alcaraz is a much more complete player in terms of touch and finesse, natural gameplay fluidity, explosiveness of shots, physical strength, athleticism and variety of recovery skills and, therefore, unpredictability, tactical ductility, from serve and volley which he sometimes executes persistently, as he did against Medvedev, never looking like a fish out of water at the net) to marathon runner resilience. He can mix up powerful serves and kick serves, continuously varying angles and spin. His dropshots are completely natural. Jannik’s tennis, instead, often gives the impression of being robotic, even though he has made great progress in the last year.         

I have often said that Jannik Sinner resembles Ivan Lendl, because Ivan’s philosophy was centred on work, work, and work, but he definitely wasn’t endowed with the same natural talent as John McEnroe. Yet he won more than McEnroe and this must be the hope, the goal of Sinner and his team.

Rune is a much more natural talent than Jannik. And it’s not only his mentor who says this.  He’s more complete, he serves better, he lands drop shots with greater ease, he can alternate powerful groundstrokes and changes of pace…like Big Cat Mecir. He plays a clever tennis, instinctive at times, but also well-reasoned.

He has already won a Masters 1000, and he’s ahead of Jannik. He’s got a big personality, though sometimes he comes up with unpleasant behaviour on court. He quite reminds me of McEnroe. People just would wait for Mac to meltdown. It will be the same with Rune. The way he put away Djokovic, in spite of the match interruption due to rain which probably cost him the second set, proves his mental qualities. He had displayed the same qualities when he beat Sinner in Montecarlo.

He has achieved goals which Jannik has just got close to. Jannik seems to be often hampered by injuries. He’s not a natural tennis player, he’s not a natural athlete. But his desire to succeed is so impressive that he will overcome these shortcomings.

Alcaraz lost to Marozsan, but before losing he tried everything. He snatched a 4-1 lead in the tiebreak of the second set, which he ended up losing 7-4, because he too is young and can suddenly have lapses. But he battled away and tried to change tactics, whereas Jannik seemed flat and just gave in, without finding the strength to react and fight back.

Sinner is young too, and sooner or later he’s going to get through these situations. But he has to find his way. Many are the features of his game he has to work on: his serve, his volleys. His ultimate breakthrough is still to come.      

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye  

Continue Reading


The Madrid Open Men’s Final Was Three Sets Of Sheer Excitement



Image via https://twitter.com/MutuaMadridOpen

Winning is the ultimate key for Carlos Alcaraz or any tennis player.


Three sets in a non-major match just make winning more exciting for everyone other than the loser, even though Jan-Lennard Struff can take solace this time. After all, he was just a lowly “Lucky Loser.”

Struff actually took Alcaraz out of his game all the way until the Spanish 20-year-old finally came up with back-to-back love service games to secure a long 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory on Sunday in Madrid.


It was only then that Alcaraz could breathe easily against Struff’s amazing power and ability to win key points at the net.

Struff actually out-Alcarazed his foe until the end appeared to be in sight. The big German seemed to have an answer for everything Alcaraz could come up with until those last two service holds by the newest adult member of tennis greatness.

Alcaraz simply showed the packed house his true greatness and will to win. The young man was the true gem in the Madrid ATP Masters 1000 event.


Alcaraz appeared to do it all with a broad smile on his young face. Three sets just made it more exciting for everyone other than the loser.

Alcaraz seems to enjoy the extra practice time when he needs it. And he needed it to turn back a 33-year-old opponent who played his heart out until the end.

He was outhit and outplayed, but when it came time to end things, Alcaraz was ready for the challenge.


Struff didn’t do anything really wrong. Alcaraz just did what he does best. Win.

The usual one-sided wins by Alcaraz, of course, are supreme fun for his growing number of fans. But at times like Sunday, Alcaraz appears to need to keep the pressure on until the clutch time comes. Otherwise, the fans might start celebrating too early.

After all, they already are in Rafa Heaven. What are the fans supposed to do if their two greats, Alcaraz and Rafa Nadal, have a showdown in Paris?

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

Continue Reading