Sunday, December 13, 2015

16 questions for 2016

1. How many majors will Serena win? 
After what was at once a magnificent and an ultimately disappointing 2015, what will the world number 1 do? I don't like to ever count Serena out, but a certain amount of common sense says that 2016 has to be the year she wins the Grand Slam, if she wins it at all. It is a very hard thing to do. So will she win all four? Three? Two? One?

2. Will Genie Bouchard recover her position as the greatest all-around threat on the tour?'
The Canadian star's slump was of epic proportions, only to be followed by her sustaining a concussion, only to be followed by a lawsuit. Will all of this adversity make her tougher than ever, or has the wind been knocked out of Bouchard? Also, will she have sufficiently recovered from her injury by the start of the season?

3. Will Aga Radwanska win a major?
The former Wimbledon finalist redeemed her less-than-stellar season with a great fourth quarter, which included winning the WTA Finals. Is 2016 the year that the WTA's greatest shot-maker ever wins something really big?

4. Will Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova overcome Santina?
They certainly could.  The pair won two majors last year. Safarova's illness and Mattek-Sands' injury caused them to wind down toward the end of the season, but they are legitimate threats.

5. Can Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina overcome Santina?
They shouldn't be counted out.

6. Can Venus stay in the top 10?
It won't be easy, but Venus could possibly travel in and out of the top 10 next year.

7. Will Simona Halep win a major?
This is hard to predict. She should, but the Romanian star has problems closing big matches. Still, she has her wonderful 2014 French Open final performance to use as a reference. She lost, yes, but she played magnificently. With the right help, Halep can get past her psychological issues and go home with a very big trophy.

8. Will The Rock finally win something really big that isn't Wimbledon?
She has the ability to win any of them, but seems to be best suited to win in Melbourne, and the least suited to win in New York. But this is tennis, and "best suited" doesn't always mean that much. And anyway, this is Petra we're talking about. Here's hoping.

9. Will Vika Azarenka return to her former position of high relevance?
She was looking very "Azarenka-like" in the second half of 2015, so there's reason to believe that the two-time Australian Open champion will be ready to compete seriously in 2016.

10. Can France beat Italy again?
They play one another again in the opening round of Fed Cup!

11. Will Maria Sharapova finally win Miami?
I always have to ask.

12. Will Camila Giorgi, Caroline Garcia and Kiki Mladenovic (or any of them) overcome their particular demons--which include double-faulting, choking, anxiety, and inconsistency--and race up the rankings? 
If I had to pick one who can do it, I'd go with Mladenovic.

13. Where will Schmiedy's backhand take her in 2016?
It could be somewhere with a very nice view.

14. Garbine Muguruza, Belinda Bencic, Karolina Pliskova--will one of them do something really big next season?
They are a charming, exciting triple threat. Muguruza has the momentum at the moment, but any of these three could stage an even bigger break-out in 2016.

15. Will Ekaterina Makarova take it to the next level?
The under-the-radar Russian has improved her play in majors in increments, and she's taken her time about it. If she continues to follow her consistent pattern, she'll make it to the final of a major in 2016. That means, of course, that she could win a major, but given Makarova's slowly creeping progress, maybe this would just be a runner-up year.

16. Who will retire in 2016?
Roberta Vinci has already announced that she will retire at the end of next season, but who could join her? Common sense dictates that Francesca Schiavone is highly likely to retire. There are several older players who could retire, but these days, players stick around longer and longer, so there's no way of telling who might leave.


shalini said...

Great questions! This should be another good year for us WTA fans.
My question is: will Santina even exist in 2016 given that it's an Olympic year which usually brings about the breakup of doubles teams from different countries?

Diane said...

Good question, shalini! Hard to imagine their splitting up now, though. It wouldn't benefit Mirza, and Hingis has her pairing with Roger, so I think thngs will stay as they are. Maybe a few Hingis/Bacsinszky practice runs?

And thanks!

Unknown said...

I'm excited about the continued progress of Bencic, Pliskova, and Keys (not sure about her hiring of Jesse Levine). Assuming she's healthy, I think Genie Bouchard will have a chip on her shoulder and is raring to return to the top.

Also, what of Wozniacki and Ivanovic? They had very disappointing slumps after a return to relevance. I wonder if one or both can return to Singapore.

Diane said...

Woz and Ana just cannot sustain that high level for very long. It's a shame, they are both so talented. And I tend to agree with you about Genie.

Fred66 said...

Besides Schiavone I think Petrova and Zvonareva will finally call it quits, and if she falls out of the Top 100, Hantuchova. Speaking of Hantuchova, Bouchard's fast rise and even faster fall remind so much of her career trajectory. Just like Daniela, Bouchard will slowly recover her form and move up the rankings again but she will never live up to the early hype.

Sunny nine said...

This our holiday, the Solstice, but thought I would take a moment to check up on your blog....
S. Williams-If her body holds, other players do not rise to the occasion in 3-setters especially, and her nerves are out of her system, then yes she could win the Grand Slam. If her body doesn't hold up or others rise to the occasion after being let into the match esp in 3 setters, then it is anybody's guess. It is probably in Serena's hands unless others finally become fearless the entire match.
Azarenka-She did play well last year but hasn't raised her ranking enough to avoid inspired players early in majors. I think she can do it, but again, fearlessness is the name of the game.
I agree with Fred66 re Petrova and Zvonareva-just not hearing from them.
Woz and Ana-what you said
Bouchard-it is not just about desire. How bad was her concussion? And her health in general as she had a couple other injuries during the year. Is she prone to these types of injuries?
Pliskova, Bencic, even Svitolina-I think Pliskova needs to get emotionally/mentally together. Maybe the IPTL trophy will help that emotional part of the game. Bencic?-she was injured during last part of the year; hard to tell then. I like Svitolina's spirit.

Diane said...

Fred & Sunny: I think you're both right, that we can reasonably expect retirement from both Russians. When they do retire, I hope their contributions to the game are properly recognized. I still believe that Nadia could have been "the one" from Russia, but it didn't work out. Nevertheless, her accomplishments were great. I still wonder what would have happened in 2006 if she hadn't sustained that practice injury at Roland Garros.

I think that Pliskova's Fed Cup performance might have lifted her to another level. Svitolina is a breath of fresh air!