With the Australian summer of tennis nearing a close, Darren Saligari offers his thoughts on the likely stories to emerge in women’s tennis for the rest of 2013.
Serena Williams will return to No.1
Most people, including the players, already recognise that Serena is the No.1, it’s just the rankings that aren’t quite there yet. Should Serena stay fit she will get there.
Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams and Li Na will add to their Grand Slam collections
For either Victoria Azarenka or Li Na, that will happen as soon as tomorrow, but expect the other two to lift some major silverware at some time during the year.
Ana Ivanovic will return to the top 10
She may have fallen in the fourth round here to fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, but Ivanovic is on the way up. In Perth she won three out of four singles matches thanks to a forehand with more grunt and a serve that proved to be more reliable than it has been in the past.
Sloane Stephens will break into the top 10
She’ll be up to No.17 on Monday, and the top 10 beckons for this cool as a cucumber customer who may not make much noise on court but doesn’t need to – her game speaks louder than any grunt.
Radwanksa to remain the bridesmaid, unless …
She attacks more. Radwanska’s game was exposed in a straightforward quarterfinal loss to Li Na. The sixth seed took control early and pushed Radwanska around at will – she got a lot of balls back, but it was Li who had the courage to hit for the lines and she was rewarded with victory. Ditto Caroline Wozniacki.
Croatian 16-year-old Donna Vekic made a big impression by winning her first Grand Slam match in Melbourne. She was the youngest direct entrant this year and is on the way up. Likewise Australian 16-year-old Ashleigh Barty, who will play in her first Grand Slam final in the women’s doubles with countrywoman Casey Dellacqua. And we’ll finish with Svetlana Kuznetsova, a former top 10 player whose ranking has blown out due to injury. Expect Sveta to be pushing for her old spot in the top 10 sooner rather than later. For the record their current rankings are 111 (Vekic), 174 (Barty) and 75 (Kuznetsova).
Dropping back to the pack
Potentially the howler as she’s a Grand Slam tournament winner, but what’s going on with Petra Kvitova? The former world No.2 has drifted to No.8 and will fall back further after a shock second-round loss to Laura Robson, not to mention the first-round exit in Sydney and a second-round loss in Brisbane. Likewise, Caroline Wozniacki had an Australian summer to forget, her best result a fourth-round exit in Melbourne at the hands of experienced campaigner Kuznetsova.