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WTA Rankings: Predicting the year-end top 10 in 2019

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 22 Nov 2018
  • Predicting the year-end top 10 for the 2019 WTA season
  • Who will finish the 2019 season inside the top 10?
Elina Svitolina (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

With so much depth, excitement and general uncertainty on the WTA Tour right now, it’s almost impossible to predict who will finish where in the year-end top 10 for 2019. That being said, I’ve had a crack anyway!

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1. Elina Svitolina

Bear with me on this! Considering I don’t think Simona Halep will remain at No. 1 (more on that later), it’s tough to pick out any sole player who can remain consistent enough throughout the entire season to accumulate enough points to hit the top. Apart from Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber and Halep, all of the current top 10 members are very erratic and their form can fluctuate from tournament to tournament. Elina Svitolina is a player who has the ability to dominate a season from start to finish across all surfaces, and after winning her biggest career title at the WTA Finals to round off 2018, she is excellently-positioned to rise even higher in 2019. Yes, that means success at Grand Slams, which Svitolina is yet to produce, but the Ukrainian has the perfect balance of defence and attack when she’s firing on all cylinders, and I believe she has a good a chance as any to finish 2019 as No. 1.

2. Garbine Muguruza

Garbine Muguruza is far too good a player to be languishing closer to the top 20 than top 10, and after a difficult 2018, I expect her to bounce back strongly in 2019 and perhaps capture another major title. Muguruza has a lot of things to work out - her coaching relationship with Sam Sumyk and an increasingly errant forehand at the top of the list - but the fact remains that when she is on, there’s not many (if any) that can stop her. Rising back to No. 2 is a stretch, but stranger things have happened…

3. Simona Halep

Currently dealing with a back injury and having split with master coach Darren Cahill, what does 2019 hold for Simona Halep? It’s hard to say, but Cahill’s influence on the Romanian, especially during difficult moments, has been immense, and I think Halep could struggle without the Australian’s guidance. In saying that, if fit, Halep is consistent enough to go deep in every tournament she enters, so that should be enough to lock down a place in the top four, but the biggest prizes may prove to be elusive…

4. Aryna Sabalenka

My pick this time last year to sky-rocket up the rankings, Aryna Sabalenka - in my opinion - is the most explosive of all the rising WTA talents and has all the tools to dominate this sport for the next decade. Still just 20 years of age, I think Sabalenka is ready to seriously challenge for Grand Slam silverware in 2019, and if she had come out on top against Naomi Osaka at the U.S. Open in their extremely close R16 clash, it could have easily come in New York. I’m very confident in Sabalenka’s ability to push towards the top four in 2019.

5. Naomi Osaka

One of the toughest players to pick amongst the game’s elite. On one hand, Naomi Osaka proved to everyone she can handle the pressure and spotlight when after winning the U.S. Open, she went on to reach the final at her home event in Tokyo and the semi-finals of Beijing, but she did run out of steam at the WTA Finals. But on the other hand, she did struggle a lot after winning Indian Wells and during the clay season. Overall, I think we might see more of the same from Osaka - a few big runs coupled together with some inconsistenty at stages throughout the season.

6. Karolina Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova is one of the more consistently inconsistent players if that makes any sense! The Czech isn’t the type that is going to dominate for long periods (at least in my opinion), but she has the weapons and general game to produce her best tennis at a moment’s notice, and that is always going to yield some big results at multiple times throughout the season. I still don’t think Pliskova is quite good enough to win a slam, but I can definitely see her hovering between the 4-8 mark in the rankings all season long.

7. Serena Williams

The driving force behind Serena Williams continuing her playing career is undoubtedly an attempt to surpass Margaret Court’s Grand Slam record - and I think the legendary American can do it in 2019. She almost did it twice at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last season less than a year after giving birth to her first child, so imagine what she can do next year with a full off-season of training under her belt. Age doesn’t seem to be a factor yet for Serena, but she likely won’t play enough tournaments throughout the course of the season to earn a spot near the very top of the rankings.

8. Angelique Kerber

Once again, Angelique Kerber enters a season as one of the hunted and a reigning Grand Slam champion. The German didn’t handle the pressure well in 2017 as she dropped from No. 1 to outside the top 20 - just how will she perform in similar circumstances in 2019? Kerber has switched coaches from Wim Fissette to former ATP star Rainer Schuettler, so there’s some uncertainty there, while there were some signs after Wimbledon that Kerber was again struggling with expectation. I don’t think her fall will be as drastic as 2017, but it will be hard for her to remain in the top four.

9. Sloane Stephens

Another player who is almost impossible to predict. When Sloane Stephens is operating at the peak of her powers, she is an absolute joy to watch and arguably a top three player in the world. However, the problem for the American is that she finds it challenging to put together successful back-to-back tournaments - and that doesn’t lend itself to a consistently high ranking. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Stephens won a Grand Slam in 2019, but I would be if she wins two or even puts together a sustained run of form for longer than a month.

10. Daria Kasatkina

It’s easy to forget that Daria Kasatkina is still only 21 years of age, because it seems like she has been around for quite a while now. The Russian may not have the brute power or biggest weapons of some of her rising contemporaries, but she has an incredibly solid game and a nice blend of attack and defence, along with a game that translates well to all surfaces. Kasatkina managed to finish 2018 in the top 10 on the back of a title in Moscow, and I think she can consolidate her spot amongst the game’s elite.

Next in line:

Madison Keys
Anett Kontaveit
Jelena Ostapenko
Katerina Siniakova
Victoria Azarenka

Notable omissions

Caroline Wozniacki
Petra Kvitova
Kiki Bertens
Caroline Garcia

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WTA Rankings: Predicting the year-end top 10 in 2019

With so much depth, excitement and general uncertainty on the WTA Tour right now, it’s almost impossible to predict who will finish where in the year-end top 10 for 2019. That being said, I’ve had a crack anyway!

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