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Five most disappointing WTA stars in 2018: A countdown of the top players who didn't quite live up to expectations in 2018

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 21 Nov 2018
  • We countdown the five most disappointing WTA stars in the 2018 season
  • Garbine Muguruza and Venus Williams feature on the list
Garbine Muguruza. (Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images)

Following the conclusion of another dramatic WTA season, we countdown the players who didn’t quite live up to expectations in 2018.

5. Caroline Garcia

After her stunning finish to 2017, during which she completed an unprecedented Wuhan-Beijing double, and made the semi-finals in a thrilling run at the WTA Finals to end the year inside the top ten, the challenge for Caroline Garcia was whether she could reproduce that form in 2018- which was never going to be easy. 

Caroline Garcia. (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)
Garcia did not have a bad year, but she could not reach the spectacular levels she touched at the end of 2017, which is why she is down at a year-end ranking of 19 in 2018. The Frenchwoman made a lot of quarter finals and fourth rounds, and a couple of semi-finals in Stuttgart and Madrid, through the first three quarters of the year, a steady run that kept her in the top ten, and even elevated her to a career-high No. 4 ranking, but she declined steeply at the start of October- dropping out of the top ten after suffering an opening round defeat in Wuhan, and exiting Beijing in the Round of 16. 

She arrested the slide by winning her first title of the season in Tianjin, but she fell well short in the Race to Singapore, and instead, had to make do with the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, where she failed to get out of the round-robin phase. 

4. Jelena Ostapenko

Jelena Ostapenko. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
If Jelena Ostapenko can somehow find the consistency to go with her swashbuckling game, she could achieve some really great things in this sport. She has already done some special things, like winning Roland Garros last season, but there is a lot more in there for the Latvian, you feel. However, she remains a hit or a miss, and while she hit a couple of times in 2018, she missed a lot more times. Those hits were in Miami and Wimbledon, where she made the final and semi-finals respectively, but she reached just two WTA quarter finals outside those tournaments- in Rome and Eastbourne, and had ten opening round exits. Ostapenko, who peaked at No. 5 last year, ended 2018 as the world No. 22.

3. Venus Williams

Venus Williams. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
It’s hard to say a bad word about the 38-year-old Venus Williams, but the great American would have expected a lot better from 2018, especially coming off an excellent 2017, during which she made Grand Slam finals at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, semi-finals at the US Open, and was runner-up at the season-ending Finals. Venus had finished each of the previous four seasons inside the top-20, two of them inside the top ten, but she ended 2018 ranked 39th in the world. 

She peaked at Indian Wells and Miami, where she made the semi-finals and quarter finals respectively, but she made just one more quarter final after that, in San Jose, and ended her season after losing to Serena Williams in the third round of the US Open. She pulled out of her next scheduled event, saying she didn’t feel physically ready to compete at the highest level.

2. Garbine Muguruza

Garbine Muguruza produced an enigmatic campaign which ended with the former world number one cascading to a year-end ranking of 18th- her worst ranking since June 2015. Muguruza was very good at times in 2018, like at Roland Garros, where she made the semis, but she had several forgettable tournaments, most significantly Wimbledon and Cincinnati, which were chiefly responsible for her slide down the rankings.

Garbine Muguruza. (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)
Muguruza had her problems with injuries in 2018- she played just one completed match in her first two scheduled tournaments, retiring in Brisbane and withdrawing from Sydney after just one match. Her lack of match practice was evident in a second-round exit at the Australian Open. A topsy-turvy run of form ensued, with the Spaniard finally finding her feet in the Middle East, reaching the final in Doha and the semis in Dubai, only to drop off again at the Premier Mandatory tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami. She ended that North American swing with a title run in Monterrey- her only title of the season. 

Muguruza did virtually nothing pre-Roland Garros, but she compiled a fine semi-final run in Paris. At that point, no one knew what exactly to expect from Muguruza, who was still a top five player leading up to her title defence at Wimbledon, but the defending Wimbledon champion crashed to the excellent Alison Van Uytvanck in the second round at the All England Club, and after a spell on the sidelines with a forearm injury, she suffered another failed title defence in Cincinnati, falling to Lesia Tsurenko. 

Muguruza never really recovered, with her best after that being semi-finals at the WTA International meet in Hong Kong, and another semi in the second-tier year-end Finals- the Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, where she was blown away by Qiang Wang for the loss of just two games in her final match of the season.

1. CoCo Vandeweghe

CoCo Vandeweghe. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
There was very little competition for No. 1, claimed by CoCo Vandeweghe, who plummeted out of the top 100 by the end of the year after starting the season inside the top ten!

The American, who reached Grand Slam semi-finals at the Australian Open and the US Open in 2017, suffered a dramatic slide in 2018, stumbling to a 10-17 record. Seven of those ten wins came in two tournaments, in Stuttgart and s-Hertogenbosch, where she (surprisingly) made the final and semi-final, one came in the Fed Cup, while she shared the other two between Indian Wells and Roland Garros. She lost every other singles match she played, including the last nine.

Like her compatriot, Jack Sock,who also embarked ona similar slump, Vandeweghe found some solace in doubles, winning Miami and the US Open, along with partner, Ashleigh Barty.

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Five most disappointing WTA stars in 2018: A countdown of the top players who didn't quite live up to expectations in 2018

A countdown of the top players who didn't quite live up to expectations in 2018

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