In this article, I will be predicting the 2018 Women’s Singles champion for each of the four Grand Slams. For each tournament, I shall predict a winner, back-up contender and dark horse. These picks reflect players that I believe can actually win the title as opposed to players who are likely to go deep. This explains why Top 5 players Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova do not appear in these predictions.
Winner: Caroline Wozniacki (2017 Rank: No.3)
After a spectacular 2017 season where she ended by getting her first ever win over Venus Williams to win her maiden WTA Finals title, I believe the former World No.1 will continue this form into 2018 by winning a long-awaited first Grand Slam title. I think this victory will take place at one of the hard-court slams, but have gone with the Australian Open. This is because I think she will follow in the footsteps of another former World No.1 Amelie Mauresmo who reached the top ranking before winning either the year-end championships or a slam, but subsequently winning them back to back.
Back-up contender: Serena Williams (2017 Rank: No.22)
In what is arguably the weakest era in WTA history, this is the best time for 23-time Grand Slam champion to have a successful return to the tour after giving birth to her first child in September. However, Serena has not played a match since the Australian Open final and this factor coupled with the pressure of trying to tie Margaret Court on 24 Grand Slams, has left me unable to predict her as my winner.
Dark Horse: Jo Konta (2017 Rank: No.9)
If Serena was not playing in the Australian Open this year, I believe Konta would have won her first Grand Slam title. Her win percentage at this event is 24% higher than her next best Grand Slam. Despite her switch in allegiance to represent Great Britain, I still consider her the Australian Open as her home slam. Now working with Michael Joyce (former coach of Maria Sharapova), if the draw opens up she is more than capable of taking advantage.
Winner: Simona Halep (2017 Rank: No.1)
Halep’s loss to Jelena Ostapenko in this year’s Roland Garros final was one of the most shocking moments of the 2017 season. It was reminiscent of how I felt wen Stan Wawrinka upset Novak Djokovic in the men’s 2015 Roland Garros final. Djokovic came back to win the tournament the following year and I believe Halep will do the same. This is because Halep didn’t slump after that huge disappointment and finally reached the World No.1 ranking by getting revenge on Ostapenko with a win against her in the China Open semi-finals. This achievement should give her confidence to finally win that elusive Grand Slam title.
Back-up contender: Sam Stosur (2017 Rank: No.41)
Stosur has a great Roland Garros record. In the last nine editions, she has lost to the eventual champion or finalist six times reaching the semi-finals or better herself four times in this period. In addition, the recent trend in the WTA Tour is that people are playing their best when they are coming back from setbacks, possibly as they feel more fight in them or have less to lose. Having missed the last two Slams of 2017 due to injury, the former US Open champion could possibly win her second slam next year.
Dark Horse: Sloane Stephens (2017 Rank: No.13)
This may be a surprising pick after Stephens ended her 2017 season with 6 consecutive losses, following her magnificent US Open triumph. However, many players have previously had a slump for the rest of the season after winning a Slam and were able to start the following season on a clean slate. As someone who actually knows what it takes to win a slam and whose preferred surface is clay, Stephens is a very credible dark horse for Roland Garros.
Winner: Venus Williams (2017 Rank: No.5)
This was the hardest major for me to predict as due to the short nature of the grass-court season you cannot really play your way into Wimbledon, with success heavily depending on who is in good form that fortnight. I feel 2018 is a now or never moment for Venus in terms of her winning a Grand Slam again. In 2015 she reached her first Slam quarter-final since being diagnosed with Sjögrens Syndrome, in 2016 her first Slam semi-final and in 2017 her first Slam final. Not winning a tournament at any level in 2017 made me very cautious with this prediction. However, I believe Venus’s fighting qualities, wealth of experience and pain from the bagel she received in this year’s Wimbledon final at the hands of Garbine Muguruza will help her win her first Slam in a decade.
Back-up contender: Madison Keys (2017 Rank: No.19)
Keys has all the tools to be a Wimbledon champion and reached the quarter-finals in 2015. If she stays injury-free (which has been an issue in recent years) and can get through the early rounds without error-strewn performances, I see no reason why she cannot win the whole tournament. With the uncertainty in the WTA right now, the conditions are perfect for her to build on her 2017 US Open final run and win her first major title next year.
Dark Horse: CoCo Vandeweghe (2017 Rank: No.10)
Vandeweghe has been very consistent at Wimbledon recently, reaching the 2nd week for the last 3 years. Her work with Pat Cash this year seemed to have immediate effects with her finishing the season in the Top 10 for the first time. If she can build on these successes, she is most certainly a dark horse to win any tournament on grass – her preferred surface.
Winner: Serena Williams (2017 Rank: No.22)
Serena Williams does not struggle with many things but if there is one thing she struggles with it is milestones. It took her four attempts to tie Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on 18 Grand Slams and it took her another four attempts to tie Steffi Graf on 22 Grand Slams. If she does play the Australian Open (as expected) and doesn’t win, I expect two more unsuccessful attempts before she ties Margaret Court on 24 Grand Slams, which is why I have predicted her as my champion for the 2018 US Open.
Back-up Contender: Caroline Wozniacki (2017 Rank: No.3)
I feel very confident that Wozniacki will win a slam next year. I believe the Dane has a realistic chance to be champion next year at any of the Slams next year, besides Roland Garros. However, if she is not successful in Australia my next pick is the US Open since is the major she has performed best at in her career so far. As a result, she is my back-up contender for the final major of the year.
Dark Horse: Madison Keys (2017 Rank: No.19)
Keys’s game definitely suits the faster surfaces but even with the US Open courts playing extremely slow this year, she was able to make the final. Therefore, if the courts are playing faster next year she will definitely be a dark horse for the title, particularly with the memories of the battering she received in this year’s final from Sloane Stephens at the front of her mind.
So there you have it – these are my predictions for the Grand Slams on the WTA Tour in 2018. I have not been following the WTA Tour much since the US Open so am very interested in seeing what happens next season. Let me know your thoughts on my predictions and feel free to put your own reports in the comments section!