Tuesday, 12 November 2013

2013 WTA awards predictions

The nominees for the WTA awards are not announced yet, except for WTA player of the year which is obviously Serena Williams. Let's make a prediction on who might walk away with these prestigious awards.

Player of the year: Serena Williams

With only 4 losses this year, it will be a travesty if Serena Williams did not win this award. Granted that 2 of her losses happened in Grand Slams, but Serena's longevity and consistency throughout this year is remarkable. Most players would be hanging up their rackets at 31, but Serena just keeps breaking records. If she continues her winning ways, she might very well replace Steffi Graf as the greatest player of all time. We are fortunate to witness history in the making.

Honorable mention: Victoria Azarenka

Only 1 player can boast that she beat Serena Williams twice in her most dominant year, and that is Victoria Azarenka. While the rest of the field quiver with fear upon facing Serena, Azarenka thrives on the challenge and always raises her level against the American. Despite a forgettable post US Open slump, Azarenka managed to defend her Australian Open crown to become a multiple slam champion. She needs to pick up her game though, as she's beginning to show signs of slowing down.

Most improved player: Simona Halep

If there is a song to describe Simona Halep's second half of the season, it would be Alicia Keys's "Girl on Fire". The Romanian went from a perennial bridesmaid to a proud owner of 5 titles in 2013. With wins over top 10 winners like Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber, it's only a matter of time before she breaks into the top 10. I expect to see the Romanian shine in 2014, and make her debut in the Year End Championships in Singapore.

Honourable mention: Sloane Stephens

Despite not winning any titles, or even reaching any finals, Sloane Stephens is knocking on the top 10's door. This is a remarkable improvement from last year, where she was just a middling top 50 player. As one of the players who defeated Serena, Sloane carried her confidence in big tournaments (perhaps a little bit too much), with good showings in Slams and the premier events. Now Sloane just needs to make less noise and let her racket do the talking, before she becomes a one season wonder.

Comeback player of the year: Jelena Jankovic

At the beginning of 2013, you would not have expected Jankovic to re-enter the top 10. She seems to be losing her motivation and there were even rumours of her retiring at the end of the year. Jelena shut all of us up as she put together a consistent, though unremarkable year to end as the world number 8. The Serbian took advantage of collapsed draws, but also sprang a few upsets of her own over Kvitova and Azarenka. Let's see if she can continue her renewed enthusiasm into 2014 and qualify for Singapore 2014.

Honourable mention: Marion Bartoli

If Marion hadn't decided to retire after her Wimbledon triumph, she would have clinched the comeback player of the year hands down. Her shock retirement is a downer, as many of her fans looked up to her as a model of persistence and determination. Well, she is a Grand Slam champion and has stated that she does not miss competing, so we have to respect her decision. Bartoli will definitely go down WTA's history as one of the tour's most quirky characters.

Newcomer of the year: Eugenie Bouchard

As the second youngest player in the top 50 (the younger one being Madison Keys), Eugenie Bouchard is quickly climbing up the rankings and will be guaranteed a seed for Australian Open. Her stellar fall results show that she's ready for the limelight, and has already claimed upsets over Ivanovic and Jankovic. If she keeps it up, we will have a new star in the making with her compact game and pleasant looks.

Honourable mention: Madison Keys

The youngest player in the top 50, Madison Keys is quickly becoming the dark horse in the tournaments she entered. With her good showings against top 10 players like Li Na and Agnieszka Radwanska, she proved that she has the game to compete with the best, and just needs to gain more experience on winning the important points. If she manages to play a disciplined power game, she has the potential to be the next Venus Williams with her booming serve.

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