Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the year-end Top 10 rankings on the WTA Tour for 2019.
We’ll remember the 2018 season as one of the most interesting in recent years in women’s tennis.
Seemingly every time you turned around and looked, there was a new surprise and a new surprising result. The four Grand Slam events were captured by four different players and it sure feels like every premiere event of the season followed this same script. By the end of the year, nothing really could have surprised us—including when the four lower seeds made the semifinals to the detriment of the four supposed favoured players in Singapore.
The qualifiers for the Singapore semifinals:
All too appropriate to cap off this topsy-turvy WTA season.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) October 26, 2018
All in all, a very enjoyable and surprising 12 (give or take) months of tennis. Now that the season is over, let’s focus on what we have learned and, much like our esteemed editor-in-chief, go on the record as for who we think will finish at the top of the rankings next season.
It’s like that old scene from Arrested Development goes, where Tobias and Lindsay discuss open relationships and couples who delude themselves into thinking it’s the right thing for them when in reality it never works…but maybe it can work for them? Yeah, things change quickly on the WTA and maybe there’s no point in making predictions on the future of the tour because there’s no way we’ll be right…but maybe this time will be different?
Without further ado, let’s jump in and give our predictions for the 2019 year-end Top 10 rankings. We won’t know for another 12 months how these predictions turn out, but we’re confident. Maybe.
Projected Year-End WTA Tour Rankings for 2019:
1) Simona Halep: The Romanian has quite a healthy lead atop the rankings and, now that she has apparently figured it out out with a first Grand Slam title to her name, it should be smooth sailing from here on out. Right? We’ll see about that, but if all we’re predicting is that 12 months from now Simona Halep will be atop the rankings, then we’re confident that she’ll figure out a way to get there.
2) Naomi Osaka: We’re going ALL IN on the young Japanese, who undeniably became the sport’s next/new superstar over the latter half of this past season by capturing the US Open title. The 21-year-old, currently ranked No. 5, might have difficulty picking up points next fall and would do well to start directly in Melbourne.
3) Sloane Stephens: That said, should Naomi Osaka slip and fall we’ll ride with Sloane Stephens. It’s easy to forget but after capturing the 2017 US Open title, the American simply couldn’t win a match to save her life before… she figured it out and won another title in Miami. The 25-year-old isn’t the most consistent, but when she’s on her game there are very, very few players who can beat her.
4) Elina Svitolina: Could the Ukrainian use her triumph in Singapore at the WTA Finals as a launching pad for better and bigger things in 2019? Elina Svitolina has done it all on the tennis courts, except for a deep run at a Grand Slam where she still has just a trio of quarterfinals berths to her name. This is next.
5) Serena Williams: Might the 2019 season be the swan song for the great Serena Williams?
6) Angelique Kerber: We’ll admit it, we didn’t think that Angelique Kerber would still be here, not after her insane 2016 season (i.e. 2 Grand Slam titles) was followed with an equally disastrous 2017 season. And yet, here the German is, still No. 3 and still a force on Tour—and validated once more after a resounding triumph at Wimbledon last season.
7) Ashleigh Barty: Australian Ashleigh Barty took women’s tennis by storm a year ago with a good number of deep runs throughout the year and across a variety of surfaces. The 22-year-old has been announced as being very good. And she might have arrived at the forefront ahead of schedule.
8) Caroline Wozniacki: Caroline Wozniacki captured the first Grand Slam title of her illustrious career at a time when no one really expected it for her anymore: four full years after her last major final, and nine after making her first. Wozniacki isn’t ranked No. 1 in the world anymore, but can we retroactively validate her year+ at the top of the rankings now?
9) Daria Kasatkina: Read Barty’s part from No. 7. If it’s not the Australian, then it might be the Russian taking over things.
10) Maria Sharapova: Is this the year that Maria Sharapova finally approximates the heights she reached at her peak? At 31 years old, she would do well to hope it happens sooner than later.
Sound off in the comments below and let us know your WTA year-end top 10 for 2019.