WTA Year in Review: 45-41 – Including Ana Konjuh

0
Ana Konjuh

This offseason, Last Word On Tennis will be looking back at the seasons of the top-50 players on each tour. This installment covers the WTA 2017 players ranked 45-41 including Samantha Stosur and Ana Konjuh.

45. Qiang Wang

Consistency may be key but Qiang Wang needs some big 2018 wins to step out of the shadows.

High Points

While Qiang Wang reached just one WTA Final all year, the true success came in her consistency. Reaching at least the quarter-final stage in six WTA events in her first full year on the WTA Tour is something most players can merely dream of. It is no surprise then, that she has had a slow but steady rise up the rankings. A first WTA 125k trophy in Zhengzhou was simply the icing on the cake.

Low Points

Three first round Grand Slam exits stand out among the array of quarter-finals. Their disappointment is slightly tempered by the fact they were against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Venus Williams and Daria Kasatkina, three players with higher rankings. Other than a lack of finals, there were few blots on the Wang scorecard in 2017.
Embed from Getty Images

Other Highlights

Dishing out a double-bagel to top-15 player Kristina Mladenovic must have felt pretty satisfying especially as it was her second victory over the Frenchwoman in 2017. Despite not getting the results, she did put on a good show at the Slams, taking both Venus Williams and Elina Svitolina to three sets.

Outlook for 2018

Qiang Wang seems to have really found her place on the WTA Tour in 2017. 2018 will determine whether the 25-year-old has the talent to propel her game to the next level. In her consistency she has a skill that is rare on the WTA circuit. Next season she needs to turn that into an impressive Grand Slam run and a WTA title.

44. Ana Konjuh

The teenager feels like she is on the cusp of a Jelena Ostapenko-style explosion after an impressive 2017.

High Points

Having burst into the top-100 back in 2014 it is easy to forget that Ana Konjuh is still only 19. That makes her 2017 all the more impressive. Another year of steady growth included a superb run to the fourth round of Wimbledon and a second WTA final in Auckland at the start of the year. A WTA title may have eluded her but she is holding her own at the highest level.

Low Points

It slipped under the radar given the wealth of injuries across the two tours but Ana Konjuh did have to shut down her season early to have surgery on her right elbow. Given the injury it is hardly surprising that her year ended with a run of three straight defeats.
Embed from Getty Images

Other Highlights

Undoubtedly reaching No.20 in the rankings for the first time is a memory that the Croat will cherish. On top of that, the technical improvements to Ana Konjuh’s game mean she is a handful for any player. Playing her entire year on the WTA Circuit and not having to rely on the 125k series or futures showed genuine maturity to.

Outlook for 2018

Ana Konjuh is a player who could really benefit from a longer grass court season. Her talent on the surface is scary and a deep Wimbledon run is not out of the question. Assuming her rehabilitation from surgery is successful she will be back pushing around the top-20 and beyond in no time.

43. Irina-Camelia Begu

A season saved by clay as the Romanian disappears through large parts of the year.

High Points

As is to be expected, the clay-court specialist thrived on the dirt. Success came in the form of her 4th career WTA title, this time in Bucharest, where she defeated Julia Goerges in the final. She also reached a 100k final on the grass at Southsea where she fell to Tatjana Maria.

Low Points

Her season started with a whimper as she recorded just two victories in her first nine tournaments. In fact, the Romanian was 10-17 for the year off of clay. Compared with her 14-8 record on clay, her lack of adaptability was particularly disappointing. On top of that she failed to progress further than the second round at any Slam for the first time in three years.
Embed from Getty Images

Other Highlights

Outside of singles, Irina-Camelia Begu found some success on the doubles circuit. As well as picking up two doubles titles on tour, the Romanian made it to the quarter-finals of the doubles at Roland Garros.

Outlook for 2018

It is hard to see how much further Begu can progress. Her game is limited enough to prevent her ever developing into a consistent top-20 force. With so much talent coming up around her she might get lost in the WTA quagmire a little bit in 2018.

42. Lesia Tsurenko

Blew hot and cold throughout most of the season but found her feet on grass.

High Points

The standout moment for the Lesia Tsurenko season came in Monterrey where the Ukranian left with a sombrero, a sun-tan and a third WTA trophy in as many years. Her run through the tournament saw her defeat the likes of Ostapenko, Mladenovic and Goerges without dropping a set.

Low Points

At times throughout the season she faded into near anonymity. Across her first eight WTA Premier events she managed to cobble together just one victory. The end of her season was not much better. Aside from a final tournament flurry in Moscow, Tsurenko managed just two wins from mid-August onwards.
Embed from Getty Images

Other Highlights

Third round appearances at both Wimbledon and the French Open ensured that Tsurenko has reached this stage at every Grand Slam during her career. Her five wins on grass too were the most ever in a year. Her newfound potency on the surface helped propel her to a new career high ranking of No.29.

Outlook for 2018

If she can find a way to stabilise her consistency then the 28-year-old can have a real stranglehold on a top-40 spot. Her game seems suited to multiple surfaces but is still limited in its variety. This gives her a noticeable ceiling but should still enable her to be a regular at WTA Premier tournaments.

41. Samantha Stosur

Sam still has plenty of bam – but the cracks are beginning to show.

High Points

Samantha Stosur crept ever closer to double-digit WTA titles after picking up her ninth this year in Strasbourg. This title will have felt particularly enjoyable given it had been almost two years since her last. Despite teetering on the brink she has also managed to remain ranked inside the top-50 for the ninth consecutive year – a remarkable feat of endurance and resilience.

Low Points

For the first time since 2003, the Australian was absent from two of the year’s Grand Slams. A stress fracture in her hand forced her to miss much of the summer, including Wimbledon and the US Open. She also struggled on her return from injury, losing her first three matches.
Embed from Getty Images

Other Highlights

It was a strange year for Stosur who seemed to unintentionally avoid playing many of the top-ranked players. Despite losing, she caused all manner of problems for Garbine Muguruza at the start of the year and ended the year with a confidence boosting three-set victory over the always tricky Agnieszka Radwanska.

Outlook for 2018

Core fitness and strength have always been the cornerstones of the Stosur game and these will enable the 33-year-old to continue her career deep into her 30s. Her ranking may have slipped but that was largely due to her summer injury absence. Early career mental jitters are a thing of the past and her experience will help cement her top-50 place for a few years yet.

WTA Year in Review:
50-46

ATP Year in Review:
50-45
44-40

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

LEAVE A REPLY