WTA 2015 top 32: Pliskova rises, vets Kerber & Safarova so close

The top 32, 2015: The WTA, from No. 12-9

No. 12

Timea Bacsinszky

The Swiss had almost retired a couple of years back because she was seriously hurt, but she hung in there and in 2015, she flourished. She won Acapulco and Monterrey. She reached the Roland Garros semifinals, knocking off Petra Kvitova before she went down against Serena Williams in three sets. Let’s recall that she was up a set and a break in the second set, and she folded, not just because Serena began to play great, but because she panicked and lost 10 games in a row.

She does move forward constantly, and she can hit from both wings, reaching the quarters of Wimbledon and overcoming Ana Ivanovic in Beijing before going down against Garbine Muguruza in the final. The 26-year-old is not very tall and she isn’t the strongest player out there, but she is very smart and ambitious.


Karolina Pliskova is a player on the rise. Photo: Mal Taam/MALTPhoto

No. 11

Katarina Pliskova

The Czech is so incredibly powerful and when she is feeling right, she can take out anyone and anywhere. She has one of the biggest first serves; she can rip both her forehand and her backhand. She rarely hesitates. However, admittedly, she has played way too much in 2015. Yes, she has beaten a number of terrific players like Angie Kerber, Muguruza, Lucie Safarova and Ivanovic. But she can also be very impatient against the tricky players, like losing against Aga Radwanska and Robera Vinci, who know how to mix it up. Pliskova believes she can go deep at the Slams in 2016. But in order to do so, she has to be very calm and understand where exactly her racket is.

No. 10

Angelina Kerber

The German veteran never seems to get tired. She will play hour after hour, running around, going back and forth and, when she is feeling super confident, she will crush it down the line. However, the reason why she has yet to win a major is because she isn’t aggressive enough. On occasion she will, but when she is facing off against the top 10, she can hesitate. Obviously, the left-hander needs to improve her serve, but if she pushed herself and not become too conservative, Kerber can reach the final at a major in 2016.

No. 9

Lucie Safarova

It has taken Safarova such along time to rise up. And, finally she did, reaching the final at a major for the first time. She upset Maria Sharapova, Muguruza and Ivanovic, before finally going down against Williams in three sets. The 28-year-old Czech was more creative this year, her forehand is stronger and she is more directive. Unfortunately, Safarova got hurt just before the US Open and she was unable to play for six weeks. She managed to come back and play the WTA Final, where she lost against Muguruza and Petra Kvitova, but it was close. Then she bested Kerber even though she was already knocked out of the competition. She was still trying and pushing herself. Without a doubt, if she stays healthy, Safarova will stay in the top 10 in 2016.


The top 5 last weeK: Angie Kerber kept on winning



Angie Kerber

The German is incredibly fast, she is so steady and bends down so low, but last year she kept panickedin the final. This year, she has turned it around, winning four titles, knocking out Aga Radwanska, Elina Svitolina and Katarina Pliskova to win the crown at the Bank of the West at Stanford. Pliskova was pretty close in the third set, but Kerber was aggressive and smarter. Now it’s time for Angie to reach a Grand Slam final and see whether or not she is good enough to knock off everyone – including Serena Williams.

Sloane Stephens

In 2012-2013 it looked like Stephens was coming very hard and ready to make the top 5. The young player reached a series of second weeks at the Grand Slam and it appeared that as she got older, she would be more secure and wasn’t very emotional. But last year, she was out of it, as she was upset frequently and she wasn’t self-assured about her game. Finally, she won a tournament, grabbing Washington over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

No, she didn’t have to best the top players, but she badly needed a title and now she has her first. She is amazingly quick, she can go down the line with either her forehand or backhand, and she has a very decent serve. Currently ranked No. 29, if she is confident again, watch out at Toronto, Cincy and the US Open.

Katarina Pliskova

When she is on, Pliskova is incredibly powerful, but she is still learning. She has one of the biggest serves on tour, but she was way off in the final against Kerber. Had she nailed a number of aces, she would have won. She is only 22 years old and the Czech is very ambitious, but she gets impatient and needs to calm down in the important moments. If Pliskova can make that change, she’ll crack the top 5 and perhaps maybe she’ll win a Slam next year. She is that good.

Elina Svitolina

The Ukrainian is the youngest player in the top 15, which means that even though she isn’t very tall and doesn’t always smoke her forehand and backhand, she is pretty smart already and she hustles. She still has a lot of work ahead, but if she keeps moving forward, she should enter the top 10 next year.

Varvara Lepchenko

The American has had a very tough year, having pneumonia at the end of January and she pretty much wrecked her until last month, when she began to feel much better. She reached the semis at Stanford, upsetting Caro Wozniacki. Now, she is confident again and the No. 45 will be a threat against anyone.