With the 2018 Australian Open officially getting underway at Melbourne Park tomorrow, the race for the WTA top spot in Ladies tennis continues.
Ever since Serena Williams relinquished the title, after a “cat and mouse” game with Angelique Kerber of Germany between August 2016 and the Australian Open last year, we have seen the No. 1 crowning of three other Top 10 players – Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza and the current top spot holder, Simona Halep of Romania.
On 13 November 2013, I wrote an article about Simona Halep, predicting that she would be a strong contender for the future top spot.
She’s had to wait patiently in the wings whilst Serena Williams continued to dominate Ladies tennis. The 26 year old Romanian also needed to polish off the edges before this became a reality on 9 October 2017, with a little extra help from both Karolina Pliskova and Garbine Muguruza, who couldn’t manage to hold on to the coveted title for long enough.
Now, with the first Grand Slam of the year less than 24 hours away, and some players still rusty after the holidays, there are five players hot on Halep’s heels to doubly kick off the 2018 season in style.
Karolina Pliskova – Although the Czech twin has never advanced past the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, the Melbourne Park tennis surface suits her game.
Garbine Muguruza – The Spanish player reached the quarter-finals here last year before falling victim to the “seed slayer” Coco Vandeweghe. Like Pliskova, this surface suits her game too.
Caroline Wozniacki – The Danish player and current World No. 2 is the only semi-finalist in this group. She must surely hold the record for being the most unlucky finalist in a calender year, having reached eight finals last year, with only one title – the WTA Finals in Singapore, when she defeated Venus Williams for the first time, strangely enough in their eighth meeting. She also reached the final of the Auckland Open last Sunday, where she lost to Julia Gorges.
Elina Svitolina – The young Ukranian player seems to have the Midas touch. Since 2017, she has reached six finals and won all of them. Her best showing at the Australian Open has been three third round appearances. Svitolina is a dominant baseline player, who despite not having an all round game yet, is more than capable of doing the double.
Jelena Ostapenko – As the “baby” of the bunch, the young Latvian player rose to fame last year when she shocked Halep to win the French Open title in three sets. Her momentum came to a halt, when she was handed a tennis lesson by the seven-time Grand Slam champion, Venus Williams in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. She managed to regain some form and clinched the Korean Open title in September. Although she prefers the clay courts, she should fare well at the Australian Open.