After sticking out my neck for the first time last year, it’s time for the second crack at making a few bold predictions for the upcoming WTA season.
Hands up if you had Angelique Kerber finishing the season at no. 1. Yeah, that’s what I thought. She did and looked great doing it. And I don’t think it was a fluke, not when you look at how many matches she won, who she beat, and where. It will be tough for Kerber to repeat her all of her success in 2017, but her consistently good performances will allow her to finish the season ranked no. 1 for a second straight year.
After an injury riddled 2016, it’s tough to predict how Serena will bounce back in 2017. I think she’s going to come back hungry to make more history and will do so by breaking Steffi Graf’s Grand Slam record (after tying it this year) by winning her 23rd Major.
Following a year that saw the emergence of Kerber, Garbine Muguruza capture her first Grand Slam crown, Karolina Pliskova reach her first Grand Slam final, and Dominka Cibulkova win the WTA Finals, expect more surprises in 2017. I think there will be a surprise Grand Slam winner a la Flavia Pennetta at the U.S. Open a few years ago. Potential underdog candidates? Maybe Johanna Konta, Elina Svitolina or, Caroline Wozniacki.
We pretty much already know what the biggest story of the 2017 season is going to be before it starts. Maria Sharapova will return in April after her doping ban was reduced to 15 months earlier this year. It will be fascinating to see how she reintegrates the tour and most importantly, how she performs on court. Sharapova has a lot of t’s to cross and I’s to dot, so much she’ll want to prove. Given that she will be able to play three Slams as well as most of the big WTA events, I am going to go out on a limb and say she finishes the season ranked inside the top 40.
I’ve saved my most bold prediction for last. So much has been written and said, Genie is going to let her play do the talking. 2017 will be another fresh start for her with a new team and we’re going to see more of what we saw at the Rogers Cup presented National Bank this summer in Montreal. We all know what she’s capable of, it’s time for her to show it on a more consistent basis,