WTA Year in Review: 30-26 Including Radwanska

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This off-season, 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 30-26, including Agnieszka Radwanska and Petra Kvitova.

30. Lucie Safarova

A consistent season saw the former top 10 Czech player significantly increase her singles ranking and debut as doubles world number one.

High points

In terms of singles, one of Safarova’s main highlights was her run to the final of Budapest in late February before losing in three tight sets to the home favourite, Timea Babos. Her biggest victory of the year in terms of ranking was against the world number four at the time in Miami, Dominika Cibulkova, who she beat two other times in 2017. Safarova also achieved another very successful season in doubles, in winning the first two grand slams of the year with Mattek-Sands and making the semifinal of New York along with her partner Strycova.
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Low points

Safarova had a lacklustre clay court season with a win to loss rate of 3-4 and three first round loses, notably including a loss in the first round at the French Open (where she made the final two years before) to Cepede Royg.

Outlook for 2018

On the whole, 2017 was a consistent season for her. However, to further improve her ranking, she must build on her form on clay and make it further in grand slam events. Safarova used to be a top ten player and we have seen glimpses of that form this year, and next year she needs to fulfil that potential.

29. Petra Kvitova

After surviving a knife attack, Kvitova made a comeback at the French open and predictably dropped quite a few ranking places in singles.

High points

The Czech player had an inspiring comeback by impressively beating Boserup in straight sets in Paris. In only her second tournament back, she managed to capture her 20th WTA title by beating Barty in the final of Birmingham. Her best grand slam result of the year was at the US Open, where she beat Muguruza on the way to a quarter final run in New York.
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Low points

Despite being one of the favourites to win the Wimbledon title, Kvitova had a disappointing loss in the second round to Madison Brengle in three sets. Following this loss, she had a 3-4 win to loss rate, until re-emerging at the US Open.

Outlook for 2018

Now that she has fully recovered from her injury and has gotten used to competing in long matches, Kvitova needs to be more consistent and bring back the electric form she showed in the late 2016 WTA season.

28. Agnieszka Radwanska

A disappointing 2017 season saw the Pole drop out of the top 10 for the first time since 2010.

High points

Radwanska made only one final this year in Sydney, where she never dropped a set until the championship match, where she lost to Johanna Konta in straight sets. She also reached the semifinal of New Haven and achieved her best Grand Slam result of the year in London, where she reached the fourth round.
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Low points

She lost in her first match of a tournament four times this year: against Caroline Wozniacki in Doha, Ekaterina Makarova in Stuttgart, Lauren Davis in Eastbourne, and Julia Goerges in Cincinnati. She failed to defend any of her titles from 2016 and was unable to make the last eight of any of the Slams. In general, she didn’t manage to impress during the season and was not able to live up to the high standards she had set for herself from the prior seasons.

Outlook for 2018

Radwanska used to be well known for being the hot shot master, “the ninja,” and the fighter and there is no reason why she couldn’t repeat her form from the previous seasons. Everything seemed to change for her after losing in Sydney, so she needs to have a good start to the year in order to feel inspired for the duration of the season.

27. Shuai Peng

After re-entering the top 100 in 2016, Peng built on her comeback year by making the top 30 once again.

High points

The Hunan-born player’s main achievement was winning her second WTA title in Nanchang by easing past Nao Hibino in straight sets. Her biggest win of the year was against the world number six at the time, Radwanska, and she also won a thrilling three set match against Kvitova in front of her home crowd in Wuhan.
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Low points

Peng had a disappointing grand slam campaign, with her best result being a third round at Wimbledon. She also had an uninspiring clay court season by losing in the first round at three out of four tournaments.

Outlook for 2018

Peng needs to improve her form on clay and perform better in the bigger tournaments, rather than performing well in the small ones.

26. Dominika Cibulkova

After achieving a career high earlier this year, the Slovak had a disappointing season by dropping out of the top 20.

High points

Cibulkova only managed to make one final throughout her 2017 season, where she lost to Gavrilova in three sets in New Haven. She also achieved a career high ranking of being the world number four after making the fourth round of Miami.

Low points

Cibulkova’s best grand slam result was an average third round in Wimbledon. She also dropped her ranking significantly after not being able to retain her Singapore title and not qualifying for Zhuhai.

Outlook for 2018

The small Slovak needs to be much more consistent – we saw the inspired Cibulkova in New Haven and a few other events, but on the whole was not able to play at such a high level constantly.

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