Match Point in Guadalajara

At the start of the year we didn’t know if we would have a WTA Finals or where it would be. A late announcement for Guadalajara saw the top players in women’s tennis race for a spot at the season ending finale and it was a total success of a tournament with an awesome atmosphere, but what happened?

Muguruza’s ‘best year’ but could be better?

Garbine Muguruza describe it as her best year following her title win, best win percentage since 2017 and highest ranking as well as three titles in a calendar year for the first time, hard to argue with that…

For me it just didn’t happen in big events and I hope it does in 2022, she has done well and her season started exceptionally well with a title in Qatar, her biggest since 2017. 8 wins across the four majors shows room for improvement and since the Australian Open final in 2020 where she won six matches she has won ten across six tournaments.

There has been a lot of improvement, the camp seems happier and her intensity on the tennis court is immense. Since the beginning of last year I have sene a lot of progress from Garbine and I hope in 2022 we see her name back in the Grand Slam winning circle. Her numbers show the progression she has made:

2018 & 2019

55 wins
36 defeats
38 tournaments
2 titles
5 top ten wins

2020 & 2021

65 wins
25 defeats
27 tournaments
3 titles
10 top ten wins

Paula, Maria & Anett shine on debut!

What a tournament for all three players. Paula Badosa, Maria Sakkari and Anett Kontaveit all played exceptionally well and made the semi-finals with Anett ending as runner-up.

Ranking meant nothing here, Paula and Anett were the 7th and 8th ranked players respectively but were the first into the semi-finals. Everyone played without fear and it was refreshing, it was anyones game.

I’m excited to see what all three bring to the table in 2022, with ranking comes expectation and now as top ten players you set the level and are the ones to beat.

Anett has performed well in these final few months of the year, she was beaten twice in Guadalajara by Muguruza but it felt like no matter what happened here it would be set up for an interesting 2022. Similar with Paula Badosa, winning at Indian Wells was a big catalyst and with her good run in Madrid earlier in the year as well she can become a difficult player on all surfaces.

Finally, Maria. Maria has had some tough defeats this year but should have her head held high. I like the emotion she shows on court but I do think it has been costly at times in big matches but it is a big learning curve for the Greek.

A singles to forget but a doubles to remember

It was a tournament of mixed results for Barbora Krejcikova, from a singles perspective I think it is just a case of moving on from what was a bit of a wild week. Performances peaked and dipped and the loss to Pliskova was bizarre from 6-0 4-2 up.

In the doubles however the Czech alongside Katerina Siniakova fought hard to the doubles title beating Hsieh and Mertens twice including in the final and without dropping a set to top off a wonderful season for the pair.

Not only was their doubles a talking point but this speech from Barbora after which highlights the difficulties of many years ago but also highlights the problems of today.

A tournament to paper over the cracks?

I like Pliskova but I’m torn on where she goes next after this week and this year? The year had it’s high’s and low’s, she was bageled six times during the year and in back to back matches in Guadalajara

0-6 2-6 vs Pegula (Dubai)
0-6 5-7 vs Pavlyuchenkova (Madrid)
0-6 0-6 vs Swiatek (Rome)
4-6 0-6 vs Kontaveit (WTA Finals)
0-6  6-4 6-4 vs Krejcikova (WTA Finals)

Results have been up and down and some bizarre performances along the way, it isn’t often that player win two matches at the WTA Finals and don’t qualify for the final four so she is slightly unlucky there. There is a lot of work to do if Pliskova is going to win a major, she came close this year but I just don’t see it right now and I hope next year we see a big step-up. Pliskova played a lot of tennis but there has been too much losing to the same opponent and lessons haven’t been learnt which has been evident against Pegula early on in the year and Giorgi.

Lessons to take away for Iga after long awaited WTA Finals debut

Following her defeat to Maria Sakkari on her debut it was sad to see Iga upset but also a reminder of where she is and what she hasn’t done. It is easy to forget at times that Iga won a Grand Slam in a time where travel for most was impossible and hasn’t played a full calendar year.

She only turned 20 in May, she’s played a lot and this was her debut at the tour finals. I am pleased she got a win in the group but it’s a learning curve and plenty of lessons to take away. I think after a player wins a major young we forget how new tennis still is on the full tour for players and this week should be viewed as a positive.

World No.2 but slight too chaotic?

Aryna Sabalenka is the world number two, I don’t think she has played the tennis consistently at that level she is there. I find her tennis a little chaotic and we saw this at the WTA Finals. Its the pinnacle of the year and it got messy, Aryna does play a strong baseline game but it can go wayward.

For a world number two a record of 10 wins and 13 defeats in three set matches this year is not ideal and isn’t going to stand up once the tour gets into full swing hopefully next year and we see players bounce back. As the top seed this was an opportunity but it now has to be seen as a disappointing end but a learning curve going into next year.

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