For Eugenie Bouchard, 2014 was a year of firsts. To crown her 2013 season, she was voted WTA Newcomer of the Year—a status she didn’t intend to hang on to for very long. Her meteoric rise materialized as soon as 2014 got underway. While maintaining her current ranking of world no.7 would be a great accomplishment in itself, the young talent has set her sights much higher. But will she be able to reach new milestones and continue to blow us away with her game in 2015?
She may have kicked off 2014 as world no. 31 but Bouchard quickly charged into the Top 20. After an impressive run all the way to the semis of the Australian Open, her ranking climbed to no. 19. In fact, her biggest conquests came at the majors, with 19 wins and 4 losses—the year’s best record on the WTA Tour. Her appearances among the final four at the Australian Open and Roland Garros and in the prestigious Wimbledon final instantly made her a player who excels when it really counts. The Canadian’s many new experiences over the past few months will certainly help her navigate 2015. Some were positive, while others, like the end of the season, were less so.
In 2015, Bouchard will be relying on a new coach and a new agent. Though a period of adjustment is expected, the changes could help her get back on track. At only 20 years old, she is exactly where she wants to be: among the best in the world. But she won’t stop there: she is focused on winning titles and claiming the throne.
This season had some highs and lows in store for Serena Williams, who still continues to dominate the women’s game. Of course, 2014 didn’t compare to her 2013 record of 78 wins, 4 losses and 11 titles including 2 Grand Slams. Was her performance this year the sign of a chink in her armour? Does the 33-year-old still have the motivation she needs to continue to rule the WTA Tour?
While Serena may not be getting any younger, retirement isn’t looming. And expectations are still high since she continues to prove that she is a commanding force when she is at her best. In fact, when she loses a match, the commentary is less about her opponent and more about her underperformance.
In 2014, Serena disappointed most at the Grand Slams. Anticipating her best tennis at the majors, fans watched her fall in the fourth round in Melbourne, the second round in Paris and the third round in London. But she managed to end the season on a high note, winning four of her last seven tournaments, including the US Open and the WTA Finals.
The American now has 18 Grand Slam singles titles in her trophy case—as many as Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova—and she’s only four away from Steffi Graff’s record, which seems in her reach. Is this the driving force that will keep Serena on the courts for the next few years?
If any player stood out during the second half of the season, it was Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. When she rolled into Wimbledon, she was world no.16 and newly single after being deserted by her fiancé Rory McIlroy just a few weeks earlier. In short, any encouraging signs were few and far between. But in spite of it all, just a few months down the road, as 2015 is about to kick off, the question is not whether she’ll stay in the Top 10 but rather when she’ll finally pocket her first Grand Slam title.
While her fourth round performance at Wimbledon was somewhat of a consolation, it also proved to be the start of a spectacular comeback. The Dane began racking up fantastic performances, winning the tournament in Istanbul and reaching the quarterfinals in Montréal and the semifinals in Cincinnati. When the US Open got underway, the former world no.1 was brimming with confidence and it showed in her game. She won a tough battle against Maria Sharapova in the fourth round and played her way into the final, where she met up with her good friend Serena Williams. Just like in Montréal and Cincinnati, Serena dominated and claimed the crown. Still, Wozniacki’s brilliant performance in Flushing Meadows propelled her back into the Top 10.
She managed to keep the momentum going through the fall, losing in the final in Tokyo and in the semifinal in Wuhan. She also proved that she was ready to be reinstated among the elite at the WTA Championships in Singapore, where she earned three round-robin wins before falling, once again, to Serena Williams in the semifinal.
In fact, the world no.1 may be the only reason Caroline Wozniacki didn’t take home a major title this year, since no one can match Serena Williams at her best. Still, Wozniacki’s consistency, speed and tenacity make her a force to be reckoned with in 2015.
Like Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic of Serbia is a former no.1 who spent a few years out of the Top 10 and managed to bounce back in 2014.
Ivanovic got her season off to a great start with a win over Venus Williams to take the title in Auckland and went on to surprise the other Williams sister in the fourth round in Melbourne. She collected three more crowns—Monterrey, Birmingham and Tokyo—and played in the finals in Stuttgart and Cincinnati.
Success revived the 2008 French Open champion. By August, Ivanovic was back in the Top 10 for the first time since May 2009 and ended the year at world no.5. While she still has a lethal arsenal, does she have the mental component and will she be able to stay consistent throughout the new season?
If it wasn’t for a bad shoulder injury that kept her out of the game for almost a year last season, Françoise Abanda may already be on the cusp of the Top 100. At just 17 years old, the Montréaler rose over 300 spots in the rankings and is now among the Top 200.
In 2014, Abanda won her first professional title and $25 000 in prize money at the Port St. Lucie Challenger. She also reached the final of the Gatineau National Bank Challenger last summer. But her greatest successes came later in the season. With a wildcard into the main draw of the Rogers Cup, Abanda faced Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, from whom she stole a set before falling in the third. A few weeks later, she qualified for her first Grand Slam in New York after losing only six games in three qualifying matches. Though she was toppled in the opening round, the Canadian played an excellent match against Sabine Lisicki of Germany. And if that weren’t enough, Abanda had the chance to take on her childhood idol Venus Williams in the first round of the Coupe Banque Nationale in Québec.
Abanda is immensely talented and has exceptional athletic ability. She is cool, calm and collected off the court but the game electrifies her. She’ll have to capitalize on all of her talents to find her way into the Top 100 and capture the attention of the tennis world.