WTA Year In Review: 46-50

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CiCi Bellis

This offseason, Last Word On Tennis will be looking back at the seasons of the top-50 players on each tour. This installment includes the WTA 2017 players ranked 46-50.

50. Lauren Davis

A year with plenty of promise that faded away towards the end.

High Points

For the first three months of the year Lauren Davis was playing the best tennis of her career. Winning her first WTA title on the opening weekend in Auckland will live long in the memory. Beyond that she continued to impress, reaching the semi-finals of both Dubai and Doha which earned her a career high ranking of No.26.

Low Points

Her performances at Grand Slams were hugely disappointing. For the first time since 2013 she failed to win a Grand Slam match, losing all four of her opening round encounters. The quality of her performances tailed off dramatically as the season progressed, winning just one match in her last nine tournaments.
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Other Highlights

Victory over Agnieszka Radwanska in Eastbourne was her third win over a top ten opponent and teased a return to form during the grass court swing. A recall to the Fed Cup team was also well deserved and she was part of the USA team that won the semi-final over Czech Republic.

Outlook for 2018

Losing a stack of points at the beginning of the year is hardly the start that Lauren Davis will want but that is the reality she is facing. The main aim for the 24-year-old will be to improve her showing at the Slams. On top of that, she needs to maintain her consistency throughout the year to come even remotely close to replicating her 2017.

49. Katerina Siniakova

The latest Czech off the production line teases a big future after a patchy but positive year.

High Points

Not only did Katerina Siniakova impress en route to two WTA titles this year but she dispatched a number of world class players on route. Simona Halep, Johanna Konta, Caroline Wozniacki and Caroline Garcia all suffered defeat at the hands of the 21-year-old who proved she has a game to challenge the best.

Low Points

As with Lauren Davis, Siniakova ended up winless at the Slams, at least in singles. Her main issue – forgivable at her age – is her inconsistency. After winning Bastad in July she failed to string two consecutive wins together for the rest of the year.
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Other Highlights

Even more notable than her singles improvements were her escapades on the doubles court. Partnering Lucie Hradecka, Siniakova reached the final of the US Open and Indian Wells. With three other final appearances the two players qualified for the WTA Finals in Singapore but sadly had to withdraw due to Hradecka suffering a knee injury.

Outlook for 2018

Katerina Siniakova really is a player to keep an eye on in 2018. She has already proven she has the game to challenge top-10 players and, with a little more consistency, she will push into the top-30 next year. Despite her winless runs at the Slams this year, it would be surprising not to see her sweep up a few victories next year at the Majors.

48. Mona Barthel

An impressive comeback year for the German who had nearly fallen out of the top-200.

High Points

After missing the clay court season in 2016 due to illness, Mona Barthel’s supreme return to the surface was a huge highlight. The German went on a 12 match winning streak, winning the Prague Open before going on to reach the quarter-finals of Rome. This streak of games not only helped secure her a top-100 position once again but catapulted her towards the top-50.

Low Points

Virtually everything once Barthel left the clay. After a blistering start to the year the German fell apart, falling in the first round time after time to the likes of Jana Fett and Mariana Duque-Marino.
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Other Highlights

After entering the year on the cusp of tumbling out of the top-200, her run through qualifying at the Australian Open was a highlight. Once in the main draw she broke local hearts twice by defeating first Destanee Aiava and then Ashleigh Barty before falling in the fourth round to eventual runner-up Venus Williams.

Outlook for 2018

Chances are it will be much of the same for Mona Barthel in 2018. Her clay-court specialization will probably keep her around her current ranking but her limitations on other surfaces prevent her from pushing into the upper echelons of the sport.

47. Tatjana Maria

It may not have been through a multitude of WTA appearances but Maria had a constructive year.

High Points

Success on the ITF circuit was the driving force for Tatjana Maria’s top-50 ranking this year. The veteran German reached four $100,000 tournament finals, winning two to produced a steady ranking rise. It may be an unorthodox approach but it proved effective and rose Maria to her best ever ranking of No.46.

Low Points

Maria found it difficult to bridge the gap between the ITF and WTA circuits. She lost in the first round in each of her opening four WTA events and reached just one WTA semi-final all season.
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Other Highlights

Winning at least one match at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open was an impressive display of cross-surface consistency. Furthermore, her four finals were also spread across all three surfaces, proving she has the game to deliver throughout the year.

Outlook for 2018

A lot depends on if she can really make a genuine leap to the WTA Tour. She holds a huge trump card in her adaptability and has the potential to re-establish herself as a regular at WTA Internationals. The aim will be to reach a WTA final. Whether she ultimately has the skills to achieve that is questionable.

46. CiCi Bellis

WTA Newcomer of the Year for a reason – this teenager is the real deal.

High Points

While 18-year-old CiCi Bellis did not reach a WTA Final, she made a name for herself with deep runs at big events. A Premier semi-final in Stanford and a Premier 5 quarter-final in Dubai stand out as notable runs and she also picked up top-10 victories over both Svetlana Kuznetsova and Agnieszka Radwanska. Most impressive though was her 6-2 6-0 victory over Petra Kvitova in the Stanford quarter-final.

Low Points

Given that CiCi Bellis is the second youngest player in the top-100 it seems harsh to pick out bad moments in an overwhelmingly stellar year. The one disappointment might be the four straight losses to end the season but even that is clutching at straws.

Other Highlights

Reaching a career high ranking of No.36 in the world was an extremely impressive milestone. What was perhaps most intriguing was that she managed to move up the rankings with a very calm, collected head. The fact she has reached where she has fairly under the radar for a young player demonstrates the mental strength that will carry her far in this game.

Outlook for 2018

The only way is up for CiCi Bellis. 2017 has provided the American teenager with an impressive platform from which to launch in 2018. What she perhaps lacks in raw power she more than makes up for with the rest of her game and mentality. The top players had best beware because Bellis is going to be a handful.

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