2020 year-end review: top 5-1, women

Ash Barty, Ashleigh Barty

5. Elina Svitolina
The muscular Svitolina can crush it with a tremendous strength. She can dominate with her strong forehand, and her ripping crosscourt backhand. She also has a good first serve. She had a very decent in 2020, but not spectacular. The Ukrainian did win Monterrey and Strasbourg, but there small tournaments. A few years ago, she was on fire, winning Brisbane, Dubai, Rome, the WTA Finals and Toronto, all huge events. However, when she loses, she can get disgruntled and dissatisfied. She has a complete game but she hasn’t won a Grand Slam. She must figure out what is stopping her from her first major. Maybe, she just needs more variety.

4. Sofia Kenin
Five years ago, it was pretty clear that the American was very good, and she became better each month. She can pummel the ball each way with depth. At the Australian Open, she beat the No. 1, Ash Barty, and then in the final, she flew high, beating Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. The 22-year-old said, “These two weeks have been the best two weeks of my life.”
They sure were. However, after that, she had a few terrific wins, but she also lost a good amount during the summer. She was hurt, which is why she went down to Vika Azarenka 6-0, 6-0 in Rome. That was a stunner, and we all know that she crying. But came back strong, reaching the final at Roland Garros. She had a real chance, but she lost to Iga Swiatek in straight sets, hampered by a leg injury and an opponent who was on fire. Then, that was it for the rest of the year. If she is healthy in 2021, then she certainly has a chance to do deep all the time.

3. Naomi Osaka
The three-time Grand Slam winner has a game without boundaries. She won the US Open, outhitting Azarenka in three sets. Not only can she smack the ball, but when she is returning, she can hit it close to the lines. After that, she attacks. Osaka only played five tournaments in 2020, partially because she was injured. Still, the year was not just about tennis. Her political statements supporting Black Lives Matter and her unrivaled income from endorsements made her a global name beyond the tennis court. Those accomplishments helped the sport’s profile. Assuming that she is healthy in 2021, she will snag some big tournaments and maybe more Slams. She is that good.

2. Simona Halep
The Romanian is so bright, on the court, being very patient. Her backhand and forehand can go crosscourt or down the line. Her net game is very solid. Over the past decade, she was excellent at times, but emotionally, she would get upset. She can grind it, but at the Slams, very deep, she could back off. Finally, at Roland Garros, in the final in 2018, in the third set, she went for it and she beat American Sloane Stephens. She was finally there. The next year at Wimbledon, she was totally zoned in, crusing Svitolina in the semis. In the final, she stunned Serena Williams quickly, perhaps her best match ever, if not one of the best matches by anyone in 10 years. However, she can be inconsistent. This year she didn’t win a Slam, yet she won Dubai, Prague and Rome. After Swiatek thrashed her in the RG fourth round, she said, “It was a fantastic year with all the tough moments that we all had, so I’m not going to ruin the whole year just for a match. Of course, it’s not easy to take, but I’m used to some tough moments in this career.” And, she still will find a way to prove she’s one of the best in the world.

1. Ashliegh Barty
Obviously, she is a damn good player. She can be fragile, but she can also be super steady. However, the odd thing is that she is still No. 1 even though she played only four events, three in Australia in January, and one in Doha in February. After that, she didn’t play at all for the year. It wasn’t that she was hurt, she didn’t want to travel after that, staying in Australia due to the vicious coronavirus. That is totally respectable, but it has been a crazy year. Before that, Barty won Adelaide. In Melbourne, she did beat Petra Kvitova in the quarters, but in the semis, she lost to Kenin, which was very close. She is very intelligent, and thoughtful. She also loves playing doubles. She won Roland Garros in 2019 but has only one other trip to a major semifinal. In 2021, she has to reset and drive. She practices all the time, improving and trying new shots. She likes to play all sports, including her well-documented stint on the professional cricket ground. Barty will continue to get better, and she will grab a Slam in 2021. No doubt about it.