In the beginning of the year our loyal contributor John Bolan made a prediction of how Top 10 would look like at the end of the season and a lot of readers presented their Top 10 picks in the comments. Now that the tennis 2011 has ended, I thought it was perfect time to ask John to do a comparison of the prediction and the actual season-ending rankings. He was eager to accept my proposal. Continue reading to see the shocking changes over the last 11 months, such as Justine Henin and Dinara Safina not playing any more and Petra Kvitova, who was never even mentioned, joining the elite big time.
On January 8, 2011 the Women’s Tennis Blog published my article "Who will be Top 10 players at the end of 2011?". My picks were listed with reasons why I chose them. Many fans used the comment section to submit their picks. Now that the year is over, let’s find out how we did.
Most of us only named about 5 out of the 10 Top finishers. The reason that we did so poorly was the injury factor. Five of the top players were injured for most of the year – Justin Henin, Kim Clijsters, Dinara Safina, Serena Williams and Venus Williams. Most of us had at least 3 of these injured stars on our Top 10 list. The most difficult factor in picking the Top 10 is trying to guess who will not be able to play a full season and 2011 was an unusual year with so many of the top stars injured for so long.
No one picked the number 2 finisher – Petra Kvitova. Only one person picked Marion Bartoli and only one picked Andrea Petkovic. These omissions hurt the overall accuracy of our picks.
1. Caroline Wozniacki did the near impossible in 2011 by repeating as the world’s number one. Because the WTA deducts ranking points won the year before, Caroline had the most points to lose. This meant she had to win more than she did in 2010 just to stay even. Only 3 people picked her to repeat. All but one person did include her in their Top 10. Caroline was the most consistent player on the Tour for the second straight season.
2. Petra Kvitova came from nowhere to finish number two. Although she was named as the most improved by the WTA for 2010, none of us thought she would have the year she had in 2011. She won both Wimbledon and the WTA Championships and must be included on the short list for number one in 2012.
3. Victoria Azarenka was my pick for number one and would have made it if not for the outstanding play of Caroline and Petra. Victoria continued to improve in 2011 and is poised to go even higher in 2012. She should continue her championship finals battle with Kvitova next year for the world’s number one player.
4. Maria Sharapova had a wonderful year rising to number two until faltering at the end with a disastrous showing in the final championships. Maria makes it through many matches on guts and determination alone. She may never be the player she once was before her shoulder injury, but she isn’t about to stop trying. By far the most popular player in women’s sports, Maria is also the most competitive.
5. Li Na played better than anyone at times in 2011, but she also played poorly too often. Maybe Caroline could lend her some of her consistency, and Li could show Caroline how to win a major in 2012. She won the French Open and is the best Asian player ever. She turns 30 early next year and has the honor of being the oldest player in the Top 10.
6. Samantha Stosur made all of us her fans at the US Open with her great win. Calm, cool and collected Sam may be the most popular player on the tour after Maria. She is a national hero in Australia and has the desire and talent to rise to the top of the standings.
7. Vera Zvonareva hired a new coach for 2011 and found a new demeanor on the court. The emotion has been replaced by a steely determination. She is now a very consistent player who is a safe bet to remain a Top 10 player.
8. Agnieszka Radwanska had a great run in the US Open Series. I watched her win the tournament at La Costa beating two Top 10 players, Petkovic and Zvonareva, with a heavily bandaged right shoulder. Hopefully, the off-season will give her shoulder a chance to heal, and she will come back even stronger in 2012.
9. Marion Bartoli surprised us all in 2011. I never thought she would be in the Top 10, but she managed to be consistent enough to finish 9th. She just missed qualifying for the year-end Championships, but she did win her only game there as an alternate over Azarenka the eventual runner-up.
10. Andrea Petkovic (above is my photo with her) is the most exciting player in women’s tennis. She also works harder than any other and deserves her surprising fast rise to the Top 10. Let’s hope her knee heals this winter because the WTA needs to see her dance even more in 2012.
Of all the people who commented on my post with predictions, I think Paul was the top picker. He not only was one of three who had Caroline Wozniacki as number one, he was the only one to pick Andrea Petkovic. He even picked Andrea correct at number 10. In addition Paul had eight of the ten top players on his list. His other two picks were both injured but still managed to finish near the Top 10 – Kim Clijsters #13 and Serena Williams #12. He missed only Kvitova whom no one picked and Bartoli picked by only one person. Therefore, I proposed to Marija to send him one autographed picture of a WTA star (either Dinara Safina, Yanina Wickmayer, Flavia Pennetta or Shahar Peer) and she will gladly send him his award.
Start thinking about your 2012 picks!
John, thank you for reflecting on your January's predictions. This article witnesses how fast women's tennis changes and how nothing is set in stone. (photos courtesy of John Bolan, Tony and Ralf Reinecke)