New Year and new beginnings for me as a tennis watcher. 2023 ended with my favourite player Petra Kvitová, announcing her pregnancy on New Year’s Eve. While great news for Petra, at the age of 33 and her baby due in the summer. the chances are this might be it for her tennis career. At the moment I’m still in denial and hoping for a comeback.
Consequently, 2024 is a bit different for me in terms of watching tennis.
There was success in Asia for some of my favourite players. Best performance was probably by Katerina Siniakova who made back to back 250 finals, losing to Leylah Fernandez in Hong Kong but beating fellow Czech Marie Bouzkova in an epic 3hr+ final in Nanchang.
Siniakova is an exciting, aggressive player to watch when she is in form, and for these 2 weeks, she was playing high level, patient tennis. The match against Bouzkova was notable in the way she turned the match around after being a set and a break down. Siniakova changed her tactics, reigned in her big shots and outlasted Marie. She also avenged her loss to Fernandez, beating the Canadian in the semi-final.
With this, Katka is back into the top 50 and won two titles in a season for the first time since 2017. Her backhand is one of the best on the tour, she’s fast around the court and great at the net. I’d love to see her break the top 30 finally in 2024.
Barbora Krejcikova also had some good results, making the final of the 500 event in Zhengzhou but lost out in the final to a motivated Qinwen Zheng, an exciting young player who made the most of a supportive crowd and a slightly erratic Krejcikova.
In Zhuhai, Krejcikova was the top,seed in the Elite Trophy, but lost out in a tired round robin match to Daria Kasatkina. Qinwen rode the momentum but was beaten in the final by another of my low key favourite players, Beatriz Haddad Maia in a terrific final, with Bia also,winning the doubles.
With just the WTA finals and BJK Cup finals to go, the 2023 season is almost at an end.
After a lean period for Barbora Krejcikova, this was a week to remember at the San Diego WTA500 event. She won the singles title, defeating Sofia Kenin in three sets, and then she and Katerina Siniakova teamed up to take the doubles title as well. The last time Krejcikova did this was, of course, the Roland Garros, 2021 singles and doubles double.
These last months have been tough going for us Krejcikova fans. It all started so well when she won the title in Dubai back in February, however, there followed a string of unlucky draws where she was defeated by Aryna Sabalenka in Indian Wells, Miami and Stuttgart. Then a dismal clay-court season, saw Krejcikova very out of sorts and splitting with her longtime coach Ales. What was worrying was her demeanour on court. One match that springs to mind was the defeat to Ostapenko in Rome. Anyone can lose to Ostapenko but Krejcikova was a long way up and well on top in the first set, and then completely collapsed. Barely won a point after that alarming slump.
… But sadly, not Petra! Wimbledon 2023 is in the books and an unexpected Wimbledon champion. The talented young lefty, Marketa Vondrousova from the Czech Republic is Wimbledon champion after a win in straight sets over Ons Jabeur in the final. Honestly, this was looking like Ons Jabeur‘s year. Having lost the final last year, she had the toughest of draws, beating Bianca Andreescu, Petra Kvitova, Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka to reach the final. She faced world number 42 and surprise finalist, Vondrousova, known as more of a clay-court specialist.
Wimbledon 2023 is at the quarter finals stage and sadly all my faves are out. Petra Kvitova had a good run to thr 4th round but was heavily beaten 6-0, 6-3 by last years finalist, Ons Jabeur. I missed the first set – probably for the best – and while Petra put up more of a fight, Ons had the answer to all Petra’s shots and Petra just could not get the ball away for winners. The huge shock in the stats was she only had 4, yes FOUR, winners in the whole match. Petra averages 20-30 usually and it was a further sign of the fact she wasn’t in this match. While Ons played really nicely with variety and power, it was a massively disappointing performance from Petra. However, looking in the bright side, she had her best run at Wimbledon since 2019 a d rises to number 8 in the rankings.
In better news, Katerina Siniakova had a great win at the WTA250 in Bad Homburg, Germany. She made the final here 2 years ago and played some terrific tennis, especially in a rain interrupted win over hard hitting Ludmilla Samsonova.
After the disappointment of all of my favourite players flopping at Roland Garros, the grass season has been so much better!
Petra Kvitova is a title winner again! She took the WTA 500 tournament trophy in Berlin, beating Donna Vekic in the final in straight sets. Indeed, Petra did not drop a set all week. The tournament was hit with rain forcing Petra (and Donna) to play two matches on Saturday and then the final on Sunday, but in many ways it was her challenging round 1 match against fellow Czech, Karolina Pliskova that set the tone. Petra looked so much happier to be back on grass than the struggles of clay. Great wins over Garcia and Alexandrova and Vekic, all players who love grass too. Terrific ball striking – watch out for the winner on match point in the final!
So Roland Garros 2023 has been a total disaster for my favourites! Petra Kvitova, Barbora Krejcikova, Katerina Siniaková and the doubles team of Krejcikova and Siniaková all lost in the first round! These losses were all not totally unexpected but still pretty disappointing.
Petra Kvitova hasn’t won a match since the Miracle in Miami ™. One loss to Jule Neimeir in Madrid and a leg injury has kept her off the court since. Petra is not a fan of the clay and the plucky Elizabeth Cocciaretto was a deserved winner over a rusty looking Petra. Fingers crossed the grass brings more success.
So the last few weeks have not seen my usual favourites make much of a splash on the WTA tour. Instead, it has all been about Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka, who seem to have distanced themselves at the top the women’s rankings in 2023. World number 1 Swiatek won her second successive title at the WTA500 in Stuttgart, beating Sabalenka in straight sets in the final. Advantage Iga. However, his week, Sabalenka got her revenge, beating Swiatek in the WTA1000 Madrid Open final in 3 tight sets for her second Madrid title. Deuce!
Sabalenka really needed to get this win after a relatively straightforward win for Swiatek in Stuttgart. As a former champion in Madrid, where big ball strikers often thrive in the high altitude conditions, Sabalenka looked on a mission and quite honestly, should have won in straight sets. One loose game in set 2 gave Iga the edge but her aggressive game had Iga scrambling and she was a deserved winner.
In Stuttgart, Iga was the more confident one – again, as a former champion. Once Sabalenka let her level drop a little at 3-3 in the first set, it was kind of game over!
With Rome and Roland Garros coming up, where Iga is defending champion, it will be fascinating to see if she rolls through or whether Sabalenka can reproduce this form on the slower clay.
The victory at Miami open in 2023, for Petra Kvitova, was a truly a great achievement. Her biggest title in 5 years and an historic 30th career title and 9th 1000 level trophy. For many people, this one came as a big surprise so how did Petra manage to win?
Firstly, this was not completely out of the blue. Petra had had some good wins in 2023 including wins over Jess Pegula and Rybakina and a run to the quarter-finals in Indian Wells. And despite the fact she’s never been a fan of humid conditions, she has had some good results in Miami in the past. She made the quarter-finals last year and had a decent run the year before as well. So this did not come out of nowhere. Petra has been playing decent tennis but just had not gone that deep in tournaments so far this year. Plus, this is Petra we are talking about! Someone with possibly the highest peak – apart from Serena – of recent times.
What a week in Miami, and what a week to be a Petra Kvitova fan! Yes, Petra did it. She won the WTA 1000 tournament in Miami, a 30th career title and the win puts her back into the WTA top 10. In the final on 1st April, Petra beat favourite Elena Rybakina, who was going for the Sunshine Double after taking the title in Indian Wells a few weeks back. Rybakina was the heavy favourite after having a great start to the 2023 season, but this was no April Fools Day trick, Petra Kvitova really won her 9th WTA1000 level title, the biggest win since the Madrid 1000 in 2018.