wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki Wins Singapore, Simona Halep Finishes Year-End No. 1

In a battle of two former WTA World No.1s, Caroline Wozniacki defeated Venus Williams to lift the Billie Jean King Trophy at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global today, October 29.

In their eighth career meeting, the Dane notched her first win over the American, powering to a straight sets victory (6-4, 6-4) to clinch her 27th and biggest title of her career.

“To be here with the trophy means a lot, and it’s a great way to finish off the year,” said Wozniacki. “I’m really proud of how I have played all week and how I really produced some great fighting out there.”

Despite not qualifying for the semifinals in the round-robin format, Simona Halep clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking on the WTA Tour.

Since the inception of computer rankings in 1975, Halep becomes the 13th WTA player to achieve the year-end No.1 singles ranking, and the first from Romania.

“Our congratulations to Simona Halep who is a worthy winner of the WTA year-end World No.1 singles ranking. Simona has had a great season, winning the title in Madrid and reaching the final at Roland Garros,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, Dubai Duty Free. “We wish her well for the remainder of the year and look forward to seeing her play in Dubai in the near future, where she won the title in 2015 and has many ardent fans.”

The Romanian became the 25th player to achieve the No.1 ranking on October 9, 2017 following her 27th career WTA final at the China Open in Beijing, and is ensured to retain the position as the top player for the rest of the year.

“I’m very proud to end the season as the WTA World No.1,” said Halep. “I have worked extremely hard to be the best player I can be, and it is an honor to be in the No.1 position at the end of the year.”

Halep has enjoyed another consistent season, highlighted by defending her title at the Mutua Madrid Open and reaching her second Grand Slam final at Roland Garros. In addition, the 26-year-old reached the title match at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia (Rome), Western & Southern Open (Cincinnati) and the China Open (Beijing), earning her fourth consecutive qualification at the year-end BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.

This season, Halep also made a quarterfinal run at Wimbledon, as well as semifinal showings at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (Stuttgart) and Rogers Cup (Toronto).

Halep entered the Top 10 for the first time on January 27, 2014, and has maintained her Top 10 status for 196 consecutive weeks. Having made her debut in the Top 5 in the spring of 2014, the Romanian has spent just eight weeks below that threshold.

The WTA Year-End No.1 trophy was presented to Halep by WTA President, Micky Lawler.

 

Wide Open Field At WTA Tour Year-End Championships Will Determine “Player of the Year”

When considering who should be labeled the “Player of the Year” for 2017 on the WTA Tour, there’s not an easy answer.

Serena Williams won the Australian Open to start the year, but missed most of the rest of the year as she gave birth to her first child.

Jelena Ostapenko was the unexpected winner at the French Open.

Garbine Muguruza won her second career major title at Wimbledon.

Slone Stephens emerged from the four American semifinalists to win the U.S. Open.

Venus Williams reached two major finals at the Australian and Wimbledon and was the most consistent player on the Grand Slam stage.

Simona Halep was one of four players to rank No. 1 in the world during the year, joining Karolina Pliskova, Angelique Kerber and Muguruza.

All of this schizophrenic form from the top players make the year-end WTA Tour Finals in Singapore much more intriguing as the year-end top ranking is on the line and the “Player of the Year” will be determined.

While Pliskova, Muguruza and Halep have all secured the No. 1 ranking in the last three months, seven of the eight players playing in Singapore have a mathematical chance to finish the year as the world No. 1.

Halep enters Singapore as the world No. 1 and after finally breaking through and achieving the top ranking – after three high-profile match losses that would have given her the historic rank. Now that she has achieved this important career milestone, the pressure will be “off” Halep in Singapore and she could free-wheel and play pressure free, which will benefit her greatly.

Pliskova backed into the No. 1 ranking when she lost in the second round at Wimbledon, benefitting from Halep and her nerves getting the best of her in the quarterfinals against Jo Konta, when a win would have given her the top ranking. Pliskova loves the controlled indoor conditions with her big serve and has motivation to garner a signature tournament on her 2017 season.

As great of a champion as Muguruza is, she has only been a champion at five WTA events, which is quite astonishing. She has won two titles this year at Wimbledon and Cincinnati – her first multi-win season – so she is becoming more comfortable with “winning” and becoming a consistent star on tour.

Other than Muguruza, the only other multiple major winner in Singapore is Venus Williams, who loves the indoor conditions. Venus always seems to rise to the occasion in big matches and, even at age 37, may be poised to rise again at this year-end event.

Elina Svitolina has had a breakthrough season, establishing herself as Top 5 talent and is destined to win majors and could take another step forward in her career with the title in Singapore.

Caroline Garcia was the last player to qualify for the year-end championships, but is also on the rise after defeating Halep in the final of the China Open in Beijing. Andy Murray once tweeted that Garcia would become No. 1 in the world when she first played at Roland Garros. Years later, she is starting to live up to that promise.

Wozniacki reached seven tournament finals in 2017, losing her first six before winning in Tokyo this Fall. Ostapenko has also won in the Asian Fall swing in Seoul, South Korea, her first title since her break-through win at Roland Garros. Both baseliners are in form and could also provide for a surprise in the wide-open field that has WTA finals betting odds in a constant state of flux

The Ladies Hit the Dirt Hoping for Feats on Clay

What promises to be a thrilling spring and summer of tennis for the WTA begins this week for the ladies in Stuttgart for the start of the clay court season.

This much-anticipated segment of the calendar begins with a bang as 17 of the Top 20 players in the world are entered in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Madrid and Rome will also host Premier events during the month of May as preparation for the second Grand Slam event of the year at Roland-Garros.

Over the past few years, the expectations and results on the red dirt for the women have been highly unpredictable and 2012 will be no different. Gone are the days of dominant clay court specialists on the WTA like Justine Henin or Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. Instead, today’s Tour is all about parity making it anyone’s game, especially on clay. Case and point, the French Open has crowned a different champion each of the last four years. It will be interesting to see if World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka can continue her dominance this season on a different surface or whether Maria Sharapova will finally breakthrough with some titles after finishing as the runner-up at the three biggest tournaments of the year so far. Can Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova kick-start her season after a slow start? Will Caroline Wozniacki claim that elusive Grand Slam crown? Can Na Li repeat in Paris? Will a resurgent Ana Ivanovic be a threat again on a surface that brought her Grand Slam glory in 2008? All of these questions will be answered over the next few weeks with a few unexpected twists thrown in for good measure.

Don’t be surprised if a player outside of the Top 10 makes some noise at the big tournaments and look for Agnieszka Radwanska to make a serious run at her first Grand Slam title at Roland-Garros. Her all court game is well-suited for clay. Not to mention, she is enjoying the best season of her career.

It’s impossible to discuss a pending Major without throwing the name of Serena Williams into the mix. She played the Australian Open on one ankle, but comes into the clay court season in much better shape especially after rolling through the draw in Charleston a few weeks ago to win her 40th career title. Williams is driven to continually overcome health obstacles for another opportunity to add to her Grand Slam tally. The expectations may be low heading into Roland-Garros considering her recent results at the Majors and the fact clay is her worst surface. However, tennis fans have learned over the years to never discount Serena and it would be very much her style to triumph in Paris when everyone least expects her to.

Spain’s Davis Cup Future; Judy Murray as New Fed Cup Captain – The Friday Five

by Maud Watson

Familiar Territory

The Spanish Davis Cup team was back to its winning ways as it captured the coveted trophy for the fifth time since the year 2000.  Despite an uninspiring display from their doubles duo, the singles performances by the Spanish Armada could not have been better.  What a difference a surface makes as Rafael Nadal, who sealed the victory for Spain with his defeat of Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth match, looked a far cry from the fatigued and insecure player that lost in London.  But as great as the performance from the Spanish No. 1 was, the biggest props should be going to his compatriot and Spanish No. 2, David Ferrer.  Often overshadowed by the man from Mallorca, it was Ferrer who came back from 2-1 down against a fresh del Potro to give Spain what turned out to be a crucial 2-0 lead going into Saturday’s doubles rubber.  It was also Ferrer who got Spain past arguably the biggest hurdle in their quest for the cup by single-handedly taking out the Americans on a hard court on their home soil to keep Spain in the hunt.  All in all, a great effort by the squad and congrats to Spain for yet another historic win.

Uncertain Future

But as the dust settles on another joyous Davis Cup win for Spain, Spanish fans will have much to be apprehensive about concerning their Davis Cup chances for next year and possibly beyond.  Nadal has already announced he won’t play for the team next season, and Ferrer appears to be hinting he won’t be either.  Ferrer is not only citing a focus on the Olympics, but his age as well, which means his pullout could be a permanent one.  Nadal is also said to be focusing on the Olympics, which means he may return to the team competition in 2013.  How many of Spain’s veterans may be willing to answer the call in 2012 remains unknown.  Couple that with the fact that some of Spain’s younger players may not be ready to step up to the plate, and a sixth title in the near future seems less certain than ever.  But Spain continues to develop great players, and still has a depth of talent to choose from.  Excluding France, it’s hard to name a nation in a better position to fill the void of missing its top stars.

Spare a Thought

Even the most hardcore Spanish fan would have to be heartless to not feel some sympathy for the player who seemed to take Argentina’s Davis Cup loss hardest, Juan Martin del Potro.  He left it all on the court in a devastating five-set defeat to Ferrer on the opening day of the tie – a loss that was all the more gut-wrenching since it was practically a must-win point with Nadal waiting to play the third singles on Sunday.  It was del Potro who also had that unenviable task of playing Nadal on Sunday to keep his country’s hopes alive, and what an effort he put forth.  He came out guns blazing to absolutely stun Nadal in the first, and up an early break in the second, it seemed the unthinkable might actually happen.  But then his game started to go off, Nadal settled into his own, and though he fought back from a break down multiple times in that fourth and deciding set, the Spanish Bull proved too tough.  The Argentine’s tears were completely understandable, but hopefully after he’s had time to recover, his coach is going to be able to spin his two losses into a positive.  He made great strides in his comeback this year, and perhaps had he been fresher, his offense a little sharper, he could have taken Nadal down in his own backyard.  If he continues on this path, Nadal is right.  Juan Martin del Potro could easily crack the Top 4 in 2012.

New Voice

We may never know the identity of Caroline Wozniacki’s mystery coach who was assisting her at the end of this past season, but we do know she has officially hired Ricardo Sanchez to coach her along with her father in 2012.  Wozniacki is happy to have Sanchez aboard, stating she feels comfortable with him and knows that he already knows her strengths and weaknesses.  One of his most recent charges was Jelena Jankovic, which makes the pairing seem even more perfect.  Wozniacki has a similar game to Jankovic, is less prone to injury, and most importantly, has a better attitude.  The Dane is ultimately going to have to develop some bigger weapons and get mentally stronger if she’s to capture that elusive first major, but hiring Sanchez has more than likely moved her one step closer to that goal.

New Role

She was the Scottish national coach for nine years, as well as the coach of a handful of other British players, including her two sons Andy and Jamie.  Now Judy Murray will take on her newest and most prominent coaching role as captain of the British Fed Cup Team.  She’s replacing previous captain, Nigel Sears, who left the job to coach former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic.  Ultimately, a team’s chances of success are determined by the amount of talent that is on the squad, but with her no-nonsense approach to the game, Judy Murray may just prove the shot in the arm that British women’s tennis needs.  It’s one more change to look forward to in 2012 as we all wait to see what surprises next season will bring.