2019 WTA Predictions: Who will win the Grand Slams?

Following my popular article last year, I will once again be giving my predictions for the Grand Slams on the WTA Tour in 2019. For each tournament, I shall predict a winner and a two back-up contenders. 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 many top players do not appear in these predictions.

  Australian Open  

Champion: Aryna Sabalenka  
  • 2018 Rank: No.13
  • Nationality: Belarus
  • Grand Slams: 0
  • Social Media Followers: 64,294

At the 2019 Australian Open we are due a surprise Grand Slam champion, as according to the “Grand Slam OMG Moment” theory. A Grand Slam OMG moment is when the winner is someone who nobody expected to win the tournament. If you need a reminder, the previous occurrences of such an incident can be seen below…

  1. Wimbledon 2013 – won by (15th seed) Marion Bartoli
  2. US Open 2015 – won by (26th seed) Flavia Pennetta
  3. French Open 2017 – won by (unseeded) Jelena Ostapenko

The next tournament in this sequence is the 2019 Australian Open and Sabalenka would definitely be considered as a shock winner. Whilst Sabalenka had a very successful first full season on tour where she won her first two WTA titles and won the WTA Newcomer Of The Year award, she is still very inexperienced in playing at the Grand Slams. The 2019 Australian Open will only be her sixth Grand Slam main draw and she has never advanced past the 1st round in Melbourne. In fact, she has yet to advance past the 4th Round of any Grand Slam. However, due to her rapid improvement if there is going to be a shock winner I think it will be her.

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Back-up contender: Serena Williams

  • 2018 Rank: No.16
  • Nationality: USA
  • Grand Slams: 23 
  • Social Media Followers: 26,400,000

The American is the GOAT and a contender at any tournament she enters. Serena has always struggled with the pressure of achieving historic milestones but the “Serena Milestone” theory suggests she may win her 24th Grand Slam title to tie Margaret Court at the Australian Open. It took her four attempts to win Grand Slam No.18, four attempts to win Grand Slam No.22 and the 2019 Australian Open will be her fourth attempt to win Grand Slam No.24. History suggests that this could be the time for Serena to return to the Grand Slam winner’s circle.

Back-up contender: Elina Svitolina

  • 2018 Rank: No.4
  • Nationality: Ukraine
  • Grand Slams: 0
  • Social Media Followers: 784,300

Although ending 2018 by winning the biggest title of her career at the WTA Finals, a Svitolina victory would be shock and an OMG moment on a smaller scale, which makes her a contender. This is for two reasons. One reason is her awful record at the Grand Slams. Svitolina has never beaten a Top 15 player at this level in career and has not beaten a seeded player in a Grand Slam since the 2016 French Open. It would be a shock for a player with this track record to suddenly win a Grand Slam. The second reason is her non-existent star quality. Despite being a Top 5 player, her star quality is lower than most players whose rankings are in triple digits. It would be unprecedented in tennis history for someone as basic as Svitolina to become a Grand Slam winner, so in that regard it would be a shock. However, Slamless players who won the WTA Finals have gone on to win the Australian Open the following year. This has happened with Amelie Mauresmo breaking her Grand Slam duck in 2006 and more recently Caroline Wozniacki last year. Therefore, this good omen makes Svitolina a contender.
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  French Open  

Champion: Serena Williams

When listing Serena as a contender for Australian Open, I mentioned the Serena Milestone theory. There are few things Serena Williams struggles with, but dealing with the pressure of making history is one of them. As a result, Serena has choked in many Grand Slam matches in recent years. Below is an analysis of this theory…

Quest for GS No.18 (to tie Martina Navratilova & Chris Evert) 

  1. 2014 Australian Open – 4R loss to A.Ivanovic from a set up
  2. 2014 French Open – 2R loss to G.Muguruza, who she beat 62 60 in previous meeting
  3. 2014 Wimbledon – 3R loss to A.Cornet from a set up
  4. 2014 US Open – Won Slam No.18 

Quest for GS No.22 (to tie Steffi Graf) 

  1. 2015 US Open – SF loss to R.Vinci from a set up
  2. 2016 Australian Open – F loss to A.Kerber, who has won no titles above Premier level
  3. 2016 French Open – F loss to G.Muguruza, who made zero other finals that season
  4. 2016 Wimbledon – Won Slam No.22 

Quest for GS No.24 (to tie Steffi Margaret Court) – in progress

  1. 2018 French Open – withdrew before 4R vs. M.Sharapova
  2. 2018 Wimbledon – F loss to A.Kerber, who she beat in straight sets in the 2016 final
  3. 2018 US Open – F loss to N.Osaka, who had never advanced past 4R of a Slam before

The theory suggests that she will win her 24th Grand Slam and tie Margaret Court’s all-time record at either the Australian Open or French Open. She either reaches her milestone on her 4th attempt thereby winning in Melbourne, or she reaches her milestone after suffering three painful losses at Grand Slams, therefore winning in Paris. I have gone with the second reasoning behind this theory, in order to also satisfy the OMG Moment theory.

Back-up contender: Simona Halep

  • 2018 Rank: No.1
  • Nationality: Romania
  • Grand Slams: 1 
  • Social Media Followers: 2,708,000

If I am totally off with my theories, then Simona Halep is likely the player to beat at the French Open. Not only is she the reigning champion, but she has established herself as World No.1 and best clay courter during the last two seasons. Having finally broken her Grand Slam duck, Halep could well be the first player to successfully defend the French Open since Justine Henin in 2007.

Back-up contender: Sloane Stephens

  • 2018 Rank: No.6
  • Nationality: USA
  • Grand Slams: 1 
  • Social Media Followers: 769,000

Sloane Stephens finally established herself as Top 10 player in 2018, highlighted by a run to the final of the French Open. Unfortunately for her, she lost her 100% record in finals this year and has now lost her last three tournament finals, which all went the distance. However, if she is able to overcome the trauma and disappointment from losing these matches, she will be a contender to win the tournament, particularly as clay is her favourite surface.

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  Wimbledon  

Champion: Serena Williams

Assuming my Serena Milestone theory holds true and she does win one of the first two Grand Slams, then Serena will be the clear favourite for the Wimbledon title. Serena at her best is head and shoulders above the field as it is, so when you factor in playing on her favoured grass surface and being free from pressure (because she would have tied Court’s all-time record) she will become almost unstoppable! In 2019, I expect her her serve to be firing at SW19 as she picks up her 8th Wimbledon title.

Back-up contender: Simona Halep

If Halep does not win either the of the first two slams (as I am predicting), she will be a contender at Wimbledon. She only gained 140 ranking points from the last two slams of the year and so will be playing free from pressure. In addition, Halep has openly said that Wimbledon is her main goal for 2019. As one of only five active players who have reached the semi-finals or better at every major, a Simona Halep is a contender to win any major. But when she has expressed her hunger for victory, she will be particularly dangerous.

Back-up contender: Sloane Stephens

Stephens is one the most well-rounded players in the WTA right now. She is someone that I believe can win any tournament if she is in good form. Despite it being her least successful Grand Slam, she will be playing at Wimbledon in 2019 with no pressure having suffered an opening round defeat to Croatia’s Donna Vekic this year. Therefore, Stephens is a contender to be the first non-Williams American to win Wimbledon since Lindsay Davenport in 1999.

  US Open  

Champion: Simona Halep

I strongly believe that Simona Halep will win a Grand Slam in 2019. I don’t think parting ways with her coach Darren Cahill will impact her much as he already took her as far as she could go. Her absence from the WTA Finals due to injury was also not too concerning, because she had already secured the No.1 ranking so was probably not too incentivized to play when not 100% fit. Out of the four Grand Slams, I think the US Open will be Hazep’s best chance to win her 2nd Grand Slam title next year, particularly because she has no points to defend given her opening round loss to Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi this year.

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Back-up contender: Serena Williams

Serena’s numerous controversies at this tournament stop her from being my champion pick at the US Open. If I look at them from a negative angle, it suggests that another controversy in New York could be due in 2019. She did not redeem herself from first big incident in 2009 regarding her behavior as her she was involved in another incident in her next US Open appearance in 2011. Given that she was involved in big controversy this year where she got docked a game by umpire Carlos Ramos, we may see a similar incident in 2019. However, if looking at the controversies from a positive angle, it can be argued that she could win the title next year. Serena is unbeaten at the US Open in the year after a controversial exit. She missed 2010 with injury and she won the title in 2012. Perhaps she will win the title in 2019 too and so therefore she is a contender.

Back-up contender: Sloane Stephens

Former champions are always dangerous when they return to that tournament, regardless of their form. But the good news for Stephens is that she has been incredibly successful on North American hard courts in the last two seasons. Let us take a look at her recent record at the biggest events in this region…

  1. 2017 Canadian Open: Semi-Final
  2. 2017 Cincinnati Open: Semi-Final
  3. 2017 US Open: Champion
  4. 2018 Indian Wells Open: 3rd Round
  5. 2018 Miami Open: Champion
  6. 2017 Canadian Open: Final
  7. 2017 Cincinnati Open: 3rd Round
  8. 2017 US Open: Quarter-Final

With this track record and the the US Open being her most successful Grand Slam (76% win rate), the 2017 Champion will be a contender to add another title there in 2019.

So there you have it – these are my predictions for the Grand Slams on the WTA Tour in 2019. Besides the WTA Finals, I have not followed the WTA Tour 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 predictions in the comments section!

*Social Media Following = Facebook + Twitter + Instagram followers as of 19/12/2018

7 COMMENTS

  1. Nice to see that you think Serena Williams will make a big comeback this year – I agree! Looking forward to a grand slam OMG moment this year!

  2. You’re the only writer I’ve seen who has picked up upon these patterns. It will be intereting to see if they continue this year!

  3. Australian Open : S.Williams – Winner
    S.Halep – Backup 1
    A.Barty – Backup 2

    French Open : S.Williams – Winner
    S.Stephens – Backup 1
    S.Halep – Backup 2

    Wimbledon : S.Halep – Winner
    S.Williams – Backup 1
    A.Kerber – Backup 2

    US Open: S.Stephens – Backup 1
    S.Williams – Backup 1
    S.Halep – Backup 2

  4. My prediction for rest slam
    FO : Svitolina ( Pliskova or Osaka)
    WO: Osaka ( Kvitova or Kerber )
    UO: Barty ( Bertens or Svitolina)

    • Interesting to read these at this stage, esp. regarding Halep. She is still a strong contender at US Open despite Toronto and Cincy performance. I believe she went in 50% focus/effort, and she will be 90% I you US open (100% if her achilles lets her)

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