Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon tries to predict the 2020 year-end WTA rankings.
Can we agree on seeing this 2019 season in women’s tennis as one of transition?
We wake up this Monday morning and a whopping five of the 10 highest ranked players on the WTA are 25 years or younger. The tally jumps to 8 if we look at the top 15, and 11 for the top 20.
If you feel there’s an air of change in the WTA, it’s because it is: the future of women’s tennis is bright, is what we’re trying to say. Not only that, but the four Grand Slam events in 2019 were captured by four different players for the second year in a row, with the current top player in the world validating her ranking at the year-end championships and emerging with the title.
We say all this to say that the 2019 women’s tennis season was a fun and thrilling one and we can’t wait to see what lies ahead over the next 12 months—so much so that we’ll go ahead on the record and (try to) predict the year-end 2020 Top 10 rankings. With the way women’s tennis has been evolving over the past two+ years, we’re likely doomed to be wrong on most, if not all, accounts but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
We’re excited for this. Almost.
Projected Year-End WTA Rankings for 2020:
1) Ashleigh Barty: No one really expected the 23-year-old Australian to emerge from the pack, at least not to the tune of 4 singles titles, over $11 million in prize money, 57 wins against 13 defeats and with the top ranking in the world. If the 2019 season was a dream come true, we’re doubling down and saying Ashleigh Barty can do just as well this coming season.
2) Naomi Osaka: The star of the young Japanese very, very nearly burned out but we’re pleased to see her still among the top players on tour. That she managed to right the ship and grab a handful of titles over the latter half of the season to go along with her big triumph in Australia bodes well for what lies ahead.
3) Belinda Bencic: Belinda Bencic has been supposedly next in line for so long that it’s become easy to forget that the Swiss is still just 22 years old and should only be getting better and better moving forward. Maybe a Slam final in 2020?
4) Simona Halep: It’s funny how one thing, one single Grand Slam win can pretty much change everything, right? The Romanian used to be ranked No. 1 in the world but never could quite put it all together… before she basically did? After her win at Roland Garros in 2018, Halep has more or less eschewed the odd and disappointing result that used to doom her chances here and there—a first-round loss at the 2018 US Open notwithstanding—and even added another Grand Slam title to her tally.
5) Serena Williams: Will 2020 finally be the year where Serena Williams catches and surpasses the controversy that continues to surround Margaret Court for the most Grand Slam titles in history? God, let’s hope so.
6) Elina Svitolina: Has there been a more regular player than Elina Svitolina? Since breaking into the Top 10 in 2017, the Ukrainian has pretty much been a mainstay. Oh sure, maybe she doesn’t have quite the high highs as many of her counterparts, but she’s as reliable as they come. There’s something to that.
7) Karolina Pliskova: A lot of what we wrote for the previous player applies to Karolina Pliskova as well.
8) Bianca Andreescu: We can’t wait to see what the Canadian has in stores for a follow-up to what was undeniably an excellent and special 2019 season.
9) Madison Keys: If it feels like Madison Keys enjoyed a relatively disappointing 2019 season, it’s a sign of heightened expectations over the past two+ seasons. Because regardless of what it feels like, the American is still just 24 years old, still ranked at No. 13 in the world and has completed a season where she captured 2 singles titles and amassed over $2 million in prize money. Life is good.
10) Aryna Sabalenka: It would be great to see the tall and powerful Belarusian be as dangerous and lethal on the bigger stages of the sport as she’s been the smaller ones, but it doesn’t have to all come overnight.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG