Top 30s in 2018: Women, 10-6

Petra Kvitova
Petra Kvitova continues to be a force.

No. 10: Daria Kasatkina
The 21-year-old Russian played substantially better in 2018, reaching the final of Dubai [upsetting Garbine Muguruza] and Indian Wells [stunning Venus Williams] and winning her first title in Moscow. Towards the end, she was a little tired, but that happens a lot when they are very young and never stop. Kasatkina isn’t that tall, but she is agile and quick. If she keeps it up, at some point, she will reach the top 5.

No. 9: Kiki Bertens
The smart Netherlander has finally changed things, doing more with her shots and mixing up. She has not been great at the Slams throughout her career, but this season, she won Charleston, Cincinnati and Seoul. That is more than pretty good. In the WTA Final, she beat Angie Kerber and Naomi Osaka to reach the semis, and then she lost a terrific three-setter to Elina Svitolina. Next year, the 27-year-old should go much deeper at the Slams, by being ambitious and out-hitting her opponents.

No. 8: Karolina Pliskova
There are times when the Czech is focused and concentrating. However, there are also moments when she is crabby and she won’t settle in. When you watch her, and she is playing great, you are thinking that without a doubt, she will win a Grand Slam. But she has yet to, not because she can’t beat anyone, but because when it is super close, she pulls back and misses it. However, two years ago at the US Open, in the final, she played very well, upsetting Venus and Serena Williams,
but she went down 6-4 in the third against Angie Kerber. That was very respectable.

This year, Pliskova won Stuttgart and Tokyo. Plus, she reached the quarters pretty much every month. But, she has lost against a number of fine players, like Simona Halep, Vika Azarenka, Svitolina and more. Pliskova is very good and she has a gigantic serve, forehand and backhand. So what’s stopping her from grabbing a Slam in 2019 other then collapsing at the end of matches? Nothing.

No. 7: Petra Kvitova
The happy-go-lucky player loves to play. The good thing is that now she is faster and she can play for hours and hours. When she is on top of the ball, and nails a winner, she will scream in delight. Here is the crazy thing about Kvitova: this year, she won St. Petersburg, Doha, Prague, Madrid and Birmingham. Pretty good, huh? However, at the Grand Slams, she was unable to reach to the second week. As she has said, that was not good, at all. She has won two titles at Wimbledon and she has reached the semis at the Australian Open and Roland Garros. Because of that, in 2019, she will have another chance to go very far at the most important events. She is swift, very powerful and can throttle the ball. As long as she is patient and healthy, she will be in the chase to take of many of them.

No. 6: Sloane Stephens
While she couldn’t win a Slam this year, still, she went deep a lot, although at certain moments, she frozen and lost. Without a doubt, when she is on top of it, she will be so steady, move the ball around until she has a really good shot to touch the lines. She won Miami in April, beating Muguruza, Kerber, Azarenka and Jelena Ostapenko. Then on clay, she was a little bit lost, but somehow she reached the final at Roland Garros. She was on fire, winning the first set against Simon Halep, but in the next two sets, the Romanian rose up and Stephens disappeared. The 2017 US Open champion lost in the quarters this year. In the fall, in 2017, she didn’t play well in the fall. Then, she decided to push herself, and that worked, as she reaching the WTA Final, beating Pliskova in the semis, but she lost to Svitolina in three sets. Overall, she continued to show she is an elite player, but the 25-year-old still has to improve a few more things, like her second serve and net play. If she does, in 2019, Stephens will win another major. I promise that.

This week’s top 5 women: Younger players are rising

Daria Kasatkina
The 19-year-old Russian Kasatkina won Charleston, and she looked extremely confident, smoking Jelena Ostapenko in the final. She didn’t have to best the top-20 players, but at the very least, she was very steady and precise. Will she crack the top 10 at the end of the year? Maybe not, but she is very young and driven.

Jelena Ostapenko
The Latvian looked a little tired at the final, but she did score a couple very good wins: upsetting Caro Wozniaki and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. She is also only 19 years old, and in 2014, she won junior Wimbledon. She is learning all the time.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova
This duo is ranked No. 1 (Mattek- Sands) and No. 2 (Safarova) won Charleston, beating Lucie Hradecka/Katerina Siniakova. Both Mattek-Sands and Safarova are consummate veterans, and while they don’t exactly love clay. In six weeks, they will enter Roland Garros, and maybe, if they can be calm and composed, they can win it all.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
‘Pavs’ has been playing for 10 years. Somedays, she plays great and she is enthusiastic. Other days, her brain was fried.

In Monterrey, Mexico, she was on the ball, defeating Angelique Kerber in the final. That was the third time that the No. 16 won Monterrey. She must love the food. Without a doubt, sometime soon she will be very close at the Grand Slams.

Angelique Kerber
Yes, the German reached the final, beating two good players: the former champ Francesca Schiavone and the owner of a terrific one-hander Carla Suarez Navarro. But the No. 1 Kerber hasn’t won a tournament since the 2016 US Open, seven months running. Time to figure things out.