Top 30s in 2018: Women 20-16

Caroline Garcia
Caroline Garcia

No. 20: Qiang Wang
The Chinese player started the year ranked No.45, but then she dropped into No. 91 in May. She was struggling and she was upset, but she kept plugging and she regressed. In September, ka-boom, she won Guangzhou, and she took off. She went deep in Wuhan, Beijing, Hong Kong and Zhuhai. “Now I’m doing well. This is kind of a surprise for all of us,” Wang said. “I believe at this stage when I’m relaxed, I can do better.” Yes she did, and in 2019,perhaps she can change her approach to the Grand Slams, given that she has yetto reach the second week — ever. If she relaxes, she sure will.

No. 19: Caroline Garcia
The Frenchwoman had a terrific 2017, winning everything during the fall, In 2018, she was under pressure at certain times. She did beat Maria Sharapova and Vika Azarenka, but she lost against Angie Kerber a lot, and the now No. 1 Simona Halep, too. Garcia can run and run and she can mix it up,but she can also hit it pretty short. She was able to rest in November andDecember, so when she arrives in Australia in 2019, she will look fresh. If she begins aggressive, she will return into the top 10. She is still very good. 

No. 18: Garbine Muguruza
The Spaniard has won two Slams, but in 2018, she slipped, and she slipped again. She can dominate with her backhand and forehand, and she swings hard on the return. She can be focuses and analytical.But, last year, her brain melted down and she was gone. Of course, Muguruza gets hurt a lot, but so many people do, so it’s more important that she can be tranquil and totally focused. Yes, the 25-year-old is darn good, and yes, she can win another Grand Slam, but can she do it in 2019? That is a tough call.

No. 17: Madison Keys
The American has struggled at times, on court and off. At the Slams, she has gone deep, reaching the semis in the 2015 Australian Open, upsetting Venus Williams. In the 2017 US Open final, she was playing great, she knocked out Elena Svitolina in three wonderful sets, but int he final, she froze against Sloane Stephens. This year, Keys made it into the semifinals at Roland Garros and, believe it or not, she beat Naomi Osaka before she went down against Stephens again. In Flushing Meadows, she got to the semis, and she was playing just fine, and then, Osaka rose and beat her, and Keys couldn’t figure it out. However, at least she can go deep at the majors, while other peoplec annot. But, at this point, the 23-year-old has only won three events:Stanford, Birmingham and Eastbourne, a while ago. This year, she didn’t reach the finals and she lost early during many months. At some point, Keys needs to stay healthy for a long time, rather getting hurt a lot, year after year. When she is robust, she is excellent, confident and aggressive. Keys can win a GrandSlam in 2019, or at least a huge tournament, like maybe Indian Wells, Canada or Cincy, a Premier Mandatory. She just has to.  

No. 16: Serena Williams
The 37-year-old Serena had a decent year — not by her great standard, but there were times when she played fantastic. Recall that the most important things is when she plays she wants to win badly. Off course,she will say “no big deal,” but she has admitted that there are times when she is so intense, trying hard to relax. When she isn’t hitting the ball well, inside she will become angry, especially at the majors. Serena has won 23Grand Slams, which means for many people say that she is the best player ever,even though she is one behind the Aussie, Margaret Court (24). Can she tie her in 2019? But that is another story. 

This year, in 2018, Serena played only seven events. She returned in March, after she had a baby, and it took her a while to get into playing shape. But, by late June, she was much more comfortable and faster, and she reached the final at Wimbledon, but she went down to Angie Kerber. No big deal. She returned back in the United States, and in July, she lost very early in San Jose and Cincy. But, she was hurt, until she arrived at the US Open in late August. Now,in 12 days, she looked locked in, and she won six matches in a row. But in the final, she had to play even better, becauseNaomi Osaka was on fire — Serena lost to her quickly in Miami five months ago —but the American couldn’t pull it off. Osaka served huge, and she attacked all the time, with her forehand and backhand. Serena was mediocre, at best, and she lost 6-2, 6-4. Yes, Serena screamed in the second set, at the umpire, and others, so, so loud and super angry. She lost it. Now it happens to most people, getting angry and yelling. Did Serena explode, and afterward, did she talk to the 20-year-old Osaka on court,during the ceremony? Yes, she was very nice with Osaka after it ended, who started to cry, because many fans booed at her, and Serena consoled her. But,did Serena apologize for yelling for so many minutes in the second set? In her press conference, she didn’t, she was still upset, mentally, and that was a mistake. After that, she hasn’t played since then.

I have known her since she started back in 1993,traveling with her older sister, Venus, and eventually, Serena started playing in the WTA tour in 1995. At that time, she was so young, and when you are that young, the teenager can be a little off, emotionally. We all have. But 15 years later, she matured and outside of playing tennis at the tournament, she can listen, think and be helpful.

Next year, in 2019, it will be fascinating tosee how well she plays; when she plays, or whether or not she will play at all.In January, we will find out and discover whether that she really wants to playagain. Or not. Let’s us see who it goes.

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