2020 year-end review: top 6-10, women

Bianca Andreescu

10.  Aryna Sabalenka 
In February, the Belarussian was on track, winning Qatar when she beat Kvitova in the final. She hits some huge balls and was very aggressive when she was returning. Her confidence was exploding but then COVID-19 hit and the tour shut down. When she returned, she was mentally rusty, and it took her two months to find her groove again. In the Ostrava tournament, she won the event, beating Jennifer Brady and Victoria Azarenka. In November, she won it again in Linz, knocking out Elise Mertens in the final. She finished 2020 on a winning streak. When she starts again in January, if she wants to go up in the rankings, she needs a calmness that she has yet to show.
9. Kiki Bertens
With limited play, the Dutchwoman was able to stay in the top 10. Her best showing was in St. Petersburg, where she downed Elena Rybakina in the final after taking out three Russians. She didn’t play the US Open and had some success in the other two Slams. She had a decent run in the Australian Open to the round of 16 (losing to eventual finalist Garbine Muguruza) and also made the same round in Roland Garros but dropped a two-setter to qualifier Martina Trevisan. Bertens remains a solid force based on a consistent but far-from-flashy game. She needs to up the power and find more dominance with her strokes.

8. Petra Kvitova
Mostly, she is a happy person. She can laugh a lot, and she can be goofy. She has won two Wimbledon titles. She is a gigantic hitter, with colossal first serve and forehand. When she nails a return winner. she can scream in delight. But, 2020 was a spotty year, with no titles and only one final reached in Qatar. Ash Barty took her out in the Australian Open while she fell victim to Sofia Kenin in Roland Garros. Anytime Kvitova can’t play Wimbledon her overall yearly results are going to suffer. With her hand injury well behind her, the 30-year-old still has the firepower and drive to pass her previous best ranking of No. 2 and become the game’s top player.

7. Bianca Andreescu
It’s strange to talk about Andreescu’s year when she didn’t play a 2020 match due to a lingering injury and COVID-19 fears that kept her from performing at a top level. It seems like forever but it’s important to review her incredible 2019. A qualifier at the Australian Open, she got into the second round of the main draw. But, then she moved into overdrive, beating Angie Kerber, Elina Svitolina and Muguruza in Indian Wells. In Toronto, she dispatched Karolina Pliskova, Kenin and Serena Williams to take her second Premier 5 crown. Then, in New York, she vaulted over Serena again for her first Slam trophy. The question for 2021 is: Will she be healthy and was 2019 the beginning of a great career? She is only 20, spirited and talented. It looks like her future is just beginning.

6. Karolina Pliskova
The Czech can really smash the ball, with a huge first serve. Sometimes she is totally on the ball. But, she does like to travel constantly; when she flies, she can be jaded. In 2017, she came No. 1. That was terrific. But, in order to get a Hall of Fame nod, you have to win a Slam. Perhaps at the Australian, Wimbledon or the US Open, she will break through. She just hired a new coach, Sascha Bajin, who worked with Serena for many years. Bajin knows Pliskova needs to increase her foot speed and round out her game. Those could be the keys to finally taking a major. In 2021.