Top 32: Radwanska came alive, Kvitova was OK, Venus never gives up

Flavia Pennetta wants to stick around a little bit longer. Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Flavia Pennetta wants to stick around a little bit longer. Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

The top 32, WTA, Nos. 8-5

No. 8

Flavia Pennetta

The Italian has already retired, which is too bad, because just a few months ago she played better than she ever had, knocking off Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep and her close friend, Roberta Vinci, for the US Open title. In fact, everyone says that she is one of their good friends, which is because Pennetta is one of the nicest people out there – on court and off. The 33-year-old had played for a long time, and perhaps she should have won a major a few years ago, but she could not because she was always fast enough, fairly powerful and solid at the net, but she wouldn’t always go for it. This time though she kissed the lines day after day and now she was able to walk away, into the sunset, with a wild smile for many years to come.

No. 7

Venus Williams

Perhaps that the American Venus will never be able to win another major, but at the very least, for the first time since 2011 when she was seriously ill, she was much more under control. The 35-year-old has slowed down a bit, but her phenomenal backhand and her gigantic first serve became lethal month after month. Yes, her forehand is up and down, and her second serve can be extremely weak, but her net game is substantially better than 10 years ago. We do know that she always battles, and when she isn’t tired, she can take down anyone. This year by winning Wuhan, she bested Aga Radwanska, Carla Suarez, Vinci and Garbine Muguruza. That is about as good as it gets.

Venus has won seven Grand Slams, but she hasn’t won a title since 2008. Does she have a legitimate chance? Perhaps not, but you can’t totally ignore her.

No. 6

Petra Kvitova

The lefty Czech had a decent year, but not a great one overall. When you have won two Wimbledon crowns, you cannot say that she has improved in a year without an appearance in a Grand Slam final. Often she played amazing well one day, but then she disappeared on the next day when she isn’t all right.

In Australia, she won Sydney and declared that she had a real chance to win the AO, but then she was erratic and lost against Madison Keys. In Madrid, she played spectacular by beating Serena Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova to win the title. She thought she could win Roland Garros; then she was stunned by Timea Bacsinszky.

After that, she got sick again (mono) and after that, she was a little slow. Fortunately, her body recovered and she played excellent ball at the WTA Finals, where she beat Maria Sharapova and then fell against Radwanska. In the Fed Cup final, she beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, but lost against Sharapova in one of the best matches of the year. However, the Czechs ended up winning the crown. That made her happy, which is good, but in 2016, she has to be healthy and not back off at all.

No. 5

Aga Radwanska

Radwanska-15-Stan-TR-MALT5752After losing in the first round of Roland Garros, the Polish player was very upset. For the first four months, she wasn’t played well at all, she was pushing the ball around and she was indecisive. But once she came on grass, she mentally eased it up, she moved forward, and she became to be more creative. All of a sudden, she was back. She was by no means perfect, but she saw what she needed to do. She reached the Wimbledon semis when she beat Keys before she lost against Muguruza. At the US Open, Keys got her back, but in Asia, she won Tokyo by beating Belinda Bencic. In Beijing, she bested Keys once again, took out Angie Kerber and then fell against the aggressive Muguruza. Then in the WTA Finals, she was driven and directed, finally overcoming Muguruza 7-5 in the third set (finally) and besting Petra Kvitova in three sets to win it all.

Admittedly, the 26-year-old said that now, she is really ready to win a major for the first time. Can the small person actually finally do it? I bet she can, in 2016.

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