WTA 2020 Year in Review: #6-10, Including Karolina Pliskova and Aryna Sabalenka

Karolina Pliskova, WTA 2020 Year in Review

The 2020 WTA season has come to an end and the following five players finished in the lower half of the Top 10. Some of them were aided by the WTA’s decision to freeze ranking points, whereas at least one was severely hindered by it.

WTA 2020 Year in Review: #6-10

#6 Karolina Pliskova

No matter how you dress it up, 2020 was an extremely disappointing campaign for the big-hitting Czech. Her 14-8 record in countable matches speaks for itself. It ultimately cost Dani Vallverdú his job.

Karolina Pliskova kicked off her season in blistering form, overcoming a loaded Brisbane draw en route to her only singles title. She would reach another final at the Rome Premier 5, but an ill-timed injury forced her to retire against Simona Halep.

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The lowest points came undoubtedly at the Majors. While her tendency to underperform at Slams has been a recurring theme for a while, the former World No. 1 took her struggles to a different level in 2020, winning a dismal four combined matches across all three Majors she entered.

She will attempt to bounce back in 2021 with help from newly appointed coach Sascha Bajin.

#7 Bianca Andreescu

On the bright side, Bianca Andreescu went undefeated throughout the season and thus maintained her top 10 status. Unfortunately, the Canadian’s 2020 wasn’t quite so impressive as that makes it sound because… well…she did not play any tournaments.

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Andreescu kept postponing her return from injury until she decided to solely focus on 2021. She uploaded 45 posts on Instagram, though, including a recent one practicing in Dubai. Here’s hoping for a healthy version of the 2019 US Open champion next year.

#8 Petra Kvitova

A word that could sum up Petra Kvitova’s 2020 is predictability. Except for a rare, sluggish, fortnight in New York where she lost two matches that she should have won against Marie Bouzkova and Shelby Rogers, you could on the Czech going deep in a tournament before succumbing to one of the world’s very best.

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As her 1-4 record against fellow top 20 players attests, she rarely got over the hump. Her lone victory came in Doha against none other than world# 1 Ashleigh Barty, but Kvitova ultimately fell against Aryna Sabalenka in the final 6-3 6-3.

The two-time Wimbledon champion didn’t reach another final, although she came close at Roland Garros. Kvitova took advantage of a relatively kind draw, reaching the semifinals without dropping. But there it was Sofia Kenin who adapted better to the windy conditions.

#9 Kiki Bertens

Kvitova might have started off slowly after the hiatus, but Kiki Bertens never got her engine to work properly. After beginning her campaign with a robust 12-3 record, including the St. Petersburg title, she opted to skip the US Open bubble to focus on the impromptu clay swing instead.

And that gamble backfired. The Dutch dropped her opening matches in both Rome and Strasbourg, and few rated her chances at the French Open as a result.

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A few days later, Bertens left Paris with a bittersweet taste. Even though she picked up three wins, Sara Errani accused her of faking cramps during their second-round match. Eventually, the former semifinalist was upset in the round of 16 by another Italian, qualifier Martina Trevisan. That 6-4 6-4 loss wound up being Bertens’ final match of 2020.

To make things worse, Bertens announced she would undergo Achilles surgery, so she’ll miss the 2021 Australian Open.

#10 Aryna Sabalenka

The four players listed above (Pliskova, Andreescu, Kvitova, Bertens) won a combined two minor trophies, yet they all finished ahead of three-time champion Aryna Sabalenka in the WTA rankings. One of many incongruences in this convulsed year.

Based on her penchant for excelling on Chinese soil, especially in Wuhan, and struggling elsewhere, one might have expected Sabalenka to have a poor campaign. Nevertheless, she managed to deliver great performances away from China.

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Following an uneven start to her season, in late February, Sabalenka found her game to win the Doha Premier 5 title. But then the COVID-19 pandemic happened. A few months later, after another slow start, the 22-year-old ended her year on a nine-match winning streak, hoisting the Ostrava and Linz trophies as a result.

In Ostrava, Sabalenka took part in the weirdest match of 2020: after trailing Sara Sorribes-Tormo 6-0 4-0, the Minsk native reeled off 12 straight games on the way to an unexplainable 0-6 6-4 6-0 win. On her 2021 to-do list, though, is a vast improvement at the Grand Slam level. A 3-3 record is unacceptable for a player of her ability.

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