Changeover Chat: Reviewing the 2014 WTA Season


Lindsay: We’ve already taken a look back at the ATP season. Now, let’s look back at the WTA season, which was, well, pretty fascinating. Who were you most impressed with in the WTA this season? And most disappointed with?

Andrew: There are a whole host of WTA players who have been really impressive this year. The first name that jumps into my mind is Caroline Wozniacki, probably because all her impressive play came towards the end of year, so it’s all really fresh in my memory. Her rise back into relevance at the very top has been one of the most exciting stories of 2014, for sure.

Amy: Agreed on Wozniacki – it was so much fun watching her resurgence. I think I was most impressed with Simona Halep proving that her 2013 was no fluke. She is such a solid player. As for disappointment, well, Dominika Cibulkova had an atrocious year after what was such a promising start.

Andrew: That’s a great pick – Cibulkova has a special talent for making me a believer and then completely disappearing. Halep definitely has to be one of the marquee names in the “impressive” list … that was some Grand Slam final debut!

Amy: I feel like Genie Bouchard also definitely deserves a mention, as does Ana Ivanovic. Both were surprising qualifiers for the YEC, if you go back to last year.

Add a vote for Jankovic under “most disappointing.” She finished the year at No. 15.

Lindsay: I agree with you guys – Halep and Wozniacki were both pleasant surprises, but I would say that Bouchard was the biggest surprise to me. I did not see her season coming.

Then, of course, there’s Serena. In a lackluster year for her. she still won like a billion titles, a Slam, and finished the year ranked No. 1. Ho hum, right? At 33? There are no more superlatives.

Andrew: Serena has been underappreciated for managing to hold onto that ranking too – it didn’t come easy. It was a really huge achievement to top off another impressive year.

Lindsay: I totally agree with you, Andrew. Speaking of rankings, I sometimes forget that it was a good year for Sharapova, especially in a comeback from injury.

Amy: Yeah, Sharapova had a great year too. She was in perpetual danger of falling out of the top 10, but never did.

Lindsay: She was threatening for the No. 1 ranking at the end of the year!

Andrew: It was a great season for Sharapova – I’ve made it clear a number of times how I feel about the entertainment she provided. To come close to the No. 1 ranking was ridiculous, and unexpected. Also she won a Slam, which is important because it was 2014 and she only wins Slams during even numbered years …’04, ‘06, ‘08, ‘12, ‘14 … she has to capitalize when her numbers are up!

My big disappointment for the year, without question: Sloane Stephens.

Lindsay: Ugh. Yes. Sloane.

Amy: Oh, great one.

Andrew: That’s it! The “Ugh. Yes. Sloane” reaction! That’s exactly how she’s made tennis fans feel this year, it’s hard to watch.

Lindsay: Seriously. But overall, it was a nice season in the WTA where a lot of different players got a chance to shine. Petra deserves a mention too, if only for that Wimbledon final alone.

As far as disappointments? Radwanska. I have no idea how she finished ranked No. 6! She had that one amazing match against Vika at the Australian Open, then that amazing Rogers Cup run, the Indian Wells final, but beyond that she was very, very “meh” in a year where there was room to make some noise. Of course, I can’t really be disappointed by her now that she’s hired Martina Navratilova, but that’s a story for another time.

Andrew: The Martina hire aside, Aga has definitely lost a little bit of spark this year. I can’t help but put it down to the baggage she’s carrying from that loss in the 2013 Wimbledon semifinal. The Cibulkova loss at the Australian Open was just another really painful knock for her confidence.

Lindsay: I mean, yeah–I’m not even sure my confidence has recovered. Sara Errani lost a lot of luster this year, too, though I didn’t really expect her to be great so it’s hard to call it a “disappointment.”

Amy: I’ve been waiting for that to happen for three years.

Andrew: I think her (singles) time is running out – not just because of her game, but because of the level of the game in general. There are new players rising and old favorites finding their feet again.

Lindsay: Speaking of that, taking Genie and Simona out of the equation because they’ve already “arrived,” what young player really impressed you in 2014?

Amy: I’m all about Garbine Muguruza. The way Muguruza demolished Serena at the French Open was something special, and she’s earned a bunch of other impressive wins. Also, I am hoping for big things for Madison Keys in 2015.

Andrew: I used to be really opposed to the idea of Madison Keys, I just didn’t see her happening at all. After her 2014, I have no idea why I felt that way … I think she’ll be exciting in 2015, especially with her new coaching lineup.

Amy: I think with Madison Keys, it’s like the Li Na or Petra Kvitova effect. You see some of her matches and you think, how on earth could she ever beat anyone? And then you watch her Eastbourne run and realize she can play incredible tennis when she’s on. Plus, I love how hard she hits the ball. It makes me miss Delpo a little bit less!

Andrew: I really enjoyed that Eastbourne match-up between Keys and Kerber, that was a fun watch.

Lindsay: I’m so excited to see what Keys and Lindsay Davenport can do together. I am thrilled about Muguruza and Keys , but to me, the revelation of 2014 was Belinda Bencic.

I watched Bencic play and talked to her in Charleston, and she was just great to watch. Her US Open run was just so much fun too. She’s feisty and can do almost anything out there on the court.

Andrew: Oh man, Lindsay, I’m so glad you brought up Belinda ‘Backhand’ Bencic – she’s going to be great, isn’t she? Her match vs. Jana Cepelova at Charleston is easily my match of the year.

Amy: I’ll also mention Elina Svitolina and Camila Giorgi, because they ended up ranked around the same as Bencic and Keys. There are lots of good young players to watch.

Lindsay: I think we can all agree (as we’ve been agreeing for a while) that the future of the WTA is very exciting.

Andrew: Absolutely. These women are going to be a really exciting generation.

Amy: I love that some of them are determined not to wait for success. Genie Bouchard was pissed she didn’t win a Grand Slam this year. It’s so different from the men’s tour.

Lindsay: What was your favorite “fairytale run” at a Slam this year by a woman? For me, it was Aleksandra Krunic at the USO.

Amy: That was my least favorite! She beat all my faves.

Andrew: Krunic, without a doubt. I had never heard of Aleksandra Krunic! Where did she come from?! I hope we see a lot more of her.

Lindsay: Haha, Amy, but she was there to sit and give bitchface as Vika sang, which was probably my favorite three minutes in tennis history.

Amy: That was amazing.

Andrew: My ears haven’t fully recovered, nor has my secondhand embarrassment.

Lucic-Baroni made the fourth round of the US Open, too. That was fantastic.

Lindsay: That was so inspiring. Maybe the most inspiring story of the year.

Amy: Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova making the quarterfinals of Wimbledon was bizarre/amazing.

Lindsay: It was also great to see Andrea Petkovic make the French Open semis after all she’s been through. And Lucie Safarova making the Wimbledon semis! I’d forgotten about that. Always nice to see veteran players get their shining moment.

Andrew: Zahlavova-Strycova had a great grass season, I think she’ll be very happy with her 2014. She’s an … intriguing character to have around on the tour. And of course Petko is always a welcome sight on a court. We haven’t seen nearly as much of Petko on tennis courts as I wish we had.

Lindsay: What was your favorite match of the year?

Amy: I’m probably only remembering it because it was later in the year, but I remember being so fascinated by Wozniacki-Sharapova at the US Open. I don’t remember if the tennis was incredible, but it was high drama.

Lindsay: That was SUCH a fun match. For me, it was Petra-Venus at Wimbledon. That match was just so high-quality and so high-drama, and despite my heartbreak of Venus losing, it was just a match that made me proud to be a tennis and WTA fan.

Andrew: Those were both great matches, but I can’t look beyond that Bencic-Cepelova Charleston semifinal. It was really great, and for pure entertainment I think that was the one that has lived in my memory the clearest. Both players were so feisty!

Lindsay: That match was wonderful. I was super late to a family dinner because I couldn’t unglue myself, and I have zero regrets.

Andrew: My main rival to that would be Sharapova-Wozniacki, or Sharapova-Ivanovic in Cincinnati. Sharapova-anyone, really.

Lindsay: Haha. Best Match? “Sharapova.” I was actually going to give an honorable mention to Sharapova-Kerber at Wimbledon. And I have to mention Sharapova-Halep French Open final. Given the circumstances, the quality was incredible.

Amy: I also remember being so impressed with Ivanovic’s win over Serena at the Australian Open. That was actually a good match. I thought Ivanovic didn’t get nearly enough credit because people decided Serena was injured, but I really didn’t see it.

Andrew: That match really pushed Ivanovic on to the rest of her year too; her 2014 was all about confidence. So you’re definitely right to bring that into the mix. Ivanovic has been phenomenal.

Lindsay: I agree – Ivanovic played Serena tough all year long.

What about worst match?

Amy: The Australian Open final was terrible. I really wanted Cibulkova to make it a match.

Lindsay: Ugh. Cibulkova.

Amy: Azarenka-Krunic at the US Open was one of the most painful for me to watch. Azarenka in general was so hard to watch because she’s a shadow of her former self. (Not just painful for the cringeworthy singing.)

Lindsay: Yeah, I look forward to Azarenka actually being back. I hope it happens soon.

Amy: How about Peng Shuai-Woz from the US Open? That was awful. I felt so sad for Peng, having to retire in her first Slam semifinal.

Andrew: That was easily the most depressing.

Lindsay: Oh man, you guys, I was trying to forget about that match!

For me, the worst match of the year was the Indian Wells final between Pennetta and Radwanska. Both were injured, Pennetta steamrolled, it was just bizarre.

Andrew: Pennetta won Indian Wells. What was that?! What happened there?!

Lindsay: A throwback to PEAK SEWTA.

Okay, so, let’s go through some quick superlatives. Best/worst outfit?

Andrew: Venus.

Lindsay: LOL

I was a big fan of all of Aga’s Lotto kits, even though I know I’m in the minority. I especially loved the polka dots.

Amy: Woz’s green, white, and orange outfit at RG was awesome, though we didn’t see much of it.

Lindsay: That Stella dress that everyone wore. The ruffles one. (This is just a general statement, every year, for worst dressed.)

Andrew: I still mourn the one-match-wonder orange-soled shoes of Roger Federer…if that helps…

Lindsay: Any quotes or press-conference moments that stand out this year?

Andrew: Quotes? QUOTES? Do we even need to discuss this?

“CHECK HER BLOOD PRESSURE” Close the competition. Done.

One Response

  1. Patrick of La Verne
    Patrick of La Verne January 1, 2015 at 5:14 pm |

    Thanks, guys. It was nice to reprise the year through your memories.

    I would like to rise to rise to the defense of Sara Errani, who has long been one of my faves.

    Despite her obvious limitations (her second serve wouldn’t make a dent in a sturdy spider web) Sara la Divina has been ranked between #5 and #15 for a couple of years now, in an era where there are literally dozens of players whom we project to be ‘top twenty’ players.

    She is able to do that because, without getting much attention for it, her return of serve numbers rank with the very best. She won 45.9% of her return games in 2014, which is better than Sharapova (45.5)or Serena (44.9), a couple of ladies whose return games are widely – and deservedly – trumpeted. Her % of return points won (48.2) was among the leaders too, behind only Radwanska and Halep among the top twenty-five players.

    And remarkably, she manages to hang with the top singles players even while playing a very demanding doubles schedule at a very high level. I don’t think people quite realize that she’s played in eight of the last twelve grand slam doubles finals. Maybe I’m forgetting someone but I don’t think any team has put together a run like that since Fernandez-Zvereva back in the nineties. (Venus and Serena could have, of course, if they had played doubles more often).

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