WTA Year in Review: 40-36 Including Alize Cornet

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Alize Cornet

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 40-36 including Alize Cornet and Elise Mertens.

40. Carla Suarez Navarro

Falling to her lowest ranking since 2012, the Spaniard has had a strange year.

High Points

Two Grand Slam fourth rounds stand out as the lone high points in an otherwise baffling and bewildering year. Roland Garros and Flushing Meadows were the locations where she proved her class.

Low Points

It has been a quite frankly bizarre year for the graceful Spaniard. On paper, dropping to her lowest ranking since 2012 and failing to reach a WTA final, something she has done seven times in the two previous years, would be disappointing. When you look at every individual match she lost though, there are few major shocks. Her inability to cause a single upset this year is what has seen her plummet.
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Other Highlights

Honestly there was very little for Carla Suarez Navarro to brag about this year. Semi-final showings in Monterray and Bucharest are about as good as can be offered from her 2017 resume.

Outlook for 2018

It’s hard to tell. At 29, Suarez Navarro still has plenty of years ahead of her. Other players who also have a gamestyle built around variety also struggled in 2017 so maybe 2018 will be a bouncback year? More likely is it going the other way with Suarez Navarro heading away from the top-50.

39. Timea Bacsinszky

Wrist injury forces the Swiss star to end an up-and-down season early.

High Points

Without a shadow of a doubt Timea Bacsinszky’s run to the French Open semi-finals was a diamond in an otherwise rough 2017. That run has been masked by the woman who beat her, Jelena Ostapenko, but is still a huge success. Defeating both Venus Williams and home-favourite Kristina Mladenovic en route to the semi-finals is effectively the sole reason she makes this top-50 list.

Low Points

Having to end her season due to a wrist injury after Wimbledon was a gut-wrenching conclusion. Regardless, Bacsinszky had been struggling week-in-week-out. In fact, despite recording at least one win in seven of her nine 2017 tournaments, she failed to reach a quarter-final other than the French Open. Patchy form indeed from a player who was recently a top-15 regular.
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Other Highlights

While her WTA Tour form was inconsistent her Fed Cup form was inspiring. As the top seeded Swiss player, Bacsinszky helped guide her team through a tough opening round against France, defeating both Mladenovic and Alize Cornet. She was also able to win one of her two rubbers in the next round loss against Belarus.

Outlook for 2018

If she can stay fit for a season she is undoubtedly a top-20 regular. The issue is that injury has been prevalent throughout her career and shows no sign of going away. Instead of a spot back in the top-10, she will come alive on the clay season but struggle, once again, with injuries.

38. Alize Cornet

A handful of highs, a handful of lows and a bundle of entertainment. A fairly regular Alize Cornet year.

High Points

Alize Cornet began her season with one of her best career runs, reaching the final of the WTA Premier in Brisbane. On her way to the final – which she lost to Karolina Pliskova – she defeated Elena Vesnina, Dominika Cibulkova and Garbine Muguruza. This marked just the second WTA Premier final of the French athlete’s career.

Low Points

Not out of the ordinary for Cornet she did go missing during large patches of the season. She failed to win a single match on grass and, aside from an impressive French Open, was unable to do anything inspiring on clay. In fact, apart from winning three matches at the French Open, she won just a single match in nine straight WTA tournaments. Away from the tennis court, her part in the twitter spat with Caroline Garcia was pretty unsavoury.
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Other Highlights

Despite coming into the French Open with minimal form, a run to the fourth round which included a defeat over Agnieszka Radwanska was particularly impressive. Unlike many players, she also really rounded into form in the latter half of the season. After the US Open she held a 10-5 win-loss record including defeats over the higher ranked trio of Angelique Kerber, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Outlook for 2018

Alize Cornet does not have the game to be a regular top-20 player but her on-court passion will always make her an entertaining player on the Tour. In twelve months time she will still be in the top-50. As Alize Cornet heads towards the end of her 20s, it would be nice to finally see her reach a Grand Slam quarter-final in 2018.

37. Sorana Cirstea

Steady season which sees the Romanian heading back to where she belongs – in the top-30.

High Points

After a difficult few years with injuries, playing a full season and returning to the top-50 is the obvious high point. On top of that, Sorana Cirstea picked up some impressive wins as well. Victory over Karolina Pliskova in Beijing stands out in particular as talismanic win to carry into 2018. Cirstea also won at least one match at every Grand Slam for only the second time in her career.

Low Points

Away from exclusively her results, the entire Fed Cup incident against Great Britain was a particularly sour moment. Her refusal to shake hands with either Heather Watson or Anne Keothavong after the removal of Romanian captain Ilie Nastase for verbally abusing Keothavong and Johanna Konta was a disappointment. In terms of her actual tennis, aside from some disappointing results after the Australian Open it was excellent throughout the season.
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Other Highlights

An Australian Open fourth round appearance for the first time was a landmark moment for the Romanian while her end of season results will give her plenty to be positive about heading into 2018.

Outlook for 2018

2018 has the potential to be a really special year for Sorana Cirstea if she can remain injury free. She has built a platform to build on in 2017 and really improved her consistency. A second WTA title seems an inevitability next year as the Romanian continues to construct a more well-rounded game.

36. Elise Mertens

The only way is up for this fast-improving Belgian youngster after a breakout 2017.

High Points

Elise Mertens propelled herself into the limelight with an eleven match win streak at the start of 2017. During that streak she qualified for, and won, the Hobart International, incredibly dropping no sets in eight matches. Not only did this earn her a first WTA title but it also catapulted her into the top-100 and the consciousness of tennis fans around the world.

Low Points

In 2017 Elise Mertens has won a maiden WTA title, cracked the top-100 then cracked the top-50. It is fair to say that for a first full year on the WTA circuit there has not really been a low point.
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Other Highlights

As well as securing her first top-10 win, beating Cibulkova in Beijing – Mertens also reached a second WTA final in Istanbul. She may have lost to Elina Svitolina but this only helped boost her tennis stock. Two wins at the French Open also marked her first victories at Grand Slam level.

Outlook for 2018

It is quite simple, Elise Mertens is on an upward trajectory. By not breaking through until she was 21 she has slipped somewhat under the radar. That will only help her as she continues to be a force across all three major surfaces. Expect more WTA titles and do not be surprised to see Elise Mertens inside the top-20 in twelve months time.

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