Off-season is traditionally time to announce the winner of our WTA year-end ranking prediction contest that my friend John Bolan has been running on Women’s Tennis Blog for eight years now. Last December we asked you to predict the 2018 year-ending Top 10 rankings and I’ll say right away that Emman Damian is the champion of this year’s contest. Congratulations, Emman! Now let’s give the word to John, as he will elaborate on the contest results.
It wasn’t an easy season. 2018 will go down as the year new young superstars came on strong and great older players faded. No match is more of an example for what happened this year than the US Open final in which twenty-year-old Naomi Osaka defeated the best player in history, the now aging Serena Williams.
For years, so many of us would automatically pick Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and now-retired Agnieszka Radwanska in the Top 10. None of those three ended up being ranked that high at the end of 2018, so including any of them in your prediction hurt your chances of winning. Not one contestant included Naomi Osaka, nor did anyone choose Kiki Bertens, a re-charged 26-year-old from the Netherlands. Only one contestant, Ruta, included Daria Kasatkina in her Top 10 picks. At just 21 years of age, Kasatkina is far and away the top ranking Russian playing the game. She replaces Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 33-year-old two-time Grand Slam champion who dropped all the way to No.107 in the rankings.
So who won our 2018 contest? Emman Damian of the Tennis Foodie is our 2018 champion! This loyal reader was the only contestant who correctly picked 7 of the Top 10 for 2018! Emman has won an autographed picture of a WTA player! James of Moo’s Tennis Blog did well with 6 picks this year and is the most consistent picker year after year in this contest. We thank Fiona S for her Top 10 ATP picks. It is so much easier picking the men than the women. We thank Jim for his Top 10 female golfers picks, which is again an easier job then picking the Top 10 women’s tennis players. We thank everyone who played this year!
2018 year-ending WTA rankings:
- Simona Halep (ROU)
- Angelique Kerber (GER)
- Caroline Wozniacki (DNK)
- Elina Svitolina (UKR)
- Naomi Osaka (JPN)
- Sloane Stephens (USA)
- Petra Kvitova (CZE)
- Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
- Kiki Bertens (NLD)
- Daria Kasatkina (RUS)
Only one player over age 28 finished in the Top 10. World No.2 Angelique Kerber at 30 is the senior citizen of this year’s Top 10. There are three young players who just missed the Top 10: Aryna Sabalenka, 20, who will most certainly move up into the Top 10, and Mertens and Barty who will also be a threat to their elders next year.
I like the Russian player, Natalia Vikhlyantseva, who is 21 and very skilled. Then there are 16-year-old Marta Kostyuk, 18-year-old Dayana Yastremska (already in the Top 60), Katarina Zavatska, Claire Liu, Amanda Anisimova, Anastasia Potapova, Marketa Vondrousova (world No.68), and Cici Bellis — all under 20 and inside the Top 185.
Some of my favorite, really fun-to-watch stars retired this year – Agnieszka Radwanska, Olga Savchuk, Patty Schnyder, Arantxa Parra Santonja, Francesca Schiavone and Anabel Medina Garrigues. I really want to wish them well in their future endeavors. They are wonderful women on and off the court. Expect to see more retirements during 2019, as younger players push into the Top 100. Thank you all for playing our contest!