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Mailbag: Inspecting the 12 months-Finish WTA Awards Poll

Housekeeping

• On final week’s podcast, Jamie Listani and I speak fall tennis.

• Subsequent up this week: Steve Simon, CEO of the WTA Tour.

• Subsequent week we’ll have seven-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1 Mats Wilander.

• Some information from Down Below.

Let’s begin with one thing completely different. In lots of sports activities, the media votes on each postseason participant award winners and Corridor of Fame candidates. The thought of secret ballots strikes me as unnecessarily discreet at finest and cowardly at worst. This week, we’ll do the WTA:

WTA Participant of the 12 months
Simona Halep (ROU)
Angelique Kerber (GER)
Petra Kvitova (CZE)
Naomi Osaka (JPN)
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)

• I used to be shocked there was a fifth candidate. Except she’s ranked No. 1 or there’s a rare set of circumstances, an MVP should win at the very least one main. I might additionally add that in a detailed yr like 2018, it will be higher to attend till after the year-end championships to anoint the season’s prime participant. (Focus on: do you not undermine the heft of the final occasion of the yr whenever you ship out a poll upfront?)

Be that as it could, we’ll take Halep. The recency impact has us contemplating Osaka. However Halep is ranked No. 1 for a motive. She misplaced within the last in Australia earlier than lastly bagging her long-overdue first Slam in Paris. She performed effectively all year long. She goes about her enterprise with dignity. She doesn’t have the weaponry to hit her approach by way of tough spots—and, sure, she has a regrettable behavior of self-abnegation—which is why she’s vulnerable to unhealthy losses. However she’s a participant to admire, a worthy champion and our 2018 MVP.

The choose: Simona Halep

Simona Halep wta player of the year

Matthew Stockman/Getty Photos

Doubles Staff of the 12 months
Barbora Krejcikova/Katerina Siniakova (CZE/CZE)
CoCo Vandeweghe/Ashleigh Barty (USA/AUS)
Elise Mertens/Demi Schuurs (BEL/NED)
Kristina Mladenovic/Timea Babos (FRA/HUN)

• Good to see the WTA put doubles this excessive on the poll. In a tumultuous yr for girls’s doubles, we’ll take Krejcikova and Siniakova, the one group to win a pair of majors. And if Siniakova, 22, had been bit much less flamable, she might—and maybe will—be a top-10 singles participant.

The choose: Barbora Krejcikova/Katerina Siniakova

Barbora Krejcikova Katerina Siniakova

Elsa/Getty Photos

Most Improved Participant of the 12 months
Participant who completed contained in the High 100 and confirmed important enchancment all through the 2018 season
Kiki Bertens (NED)
Julia Goerges (GER)
Daria Kasatkina (RUS)
Elise Mertens (BEL)
Wang Qiang (CHN)
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR)

• It’s unusual that this class didn’t contemplate Osaka, who began the yr ranked No. 64 and is presently No. four. That appears to fulfill any definition of “enchancment.” However wanting writing in a candidate, we’ll give the nod to Bertens, the Dutch veteran who gained three titles.

The choose: Kiki Bertens

Kiki Bertens comeback player of the year wta awards

VCG through Getty Photos

Newcomer of the 12 months
Participant who made High 100 debut or notable accomplishments in the course of the 2018 season
Amanda Anisimova (USA)
Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU)
Danielle Collins (USA)
Sofia Kenin (USA)
Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)

• There are lot of robust and various tales right here. Ascending teenagers (Anisimova and Kenin), a university star making a profitable transition (Collins), a wonderful comeback story (Buzarnescu). However the alternative is Sabalenka and it’s not even shut. As we write this, she’ll win greater than 50 matches this yr and end inside the highest 10. Odds are that subsequent yr she’ll be on the poll as an MVP candidate. Rather a lot to love right here. And he or she would not flip 21 till Might.

The choose: Aryna Sabalenka

Aryna Sabalenka Wuhan Open

Wang He/Getty Photos

Comeback Participant of the 12 months
Participant whose rating beforehand dropped as a result of harm or private causes and present season’s outcomes helped restore rating
Belinda Bencic (SUI)
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA)
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS)
Serena Williams (USA)

• She solely gained 18 matches in 2018, far fewer than among the different candidates. However how do you not give this to Serena? (And the way do you maintain an awards present and never embrace the game’s largest star?) At 37, again from childbirth, SW reached a pair of main finals and confirmed she’s nonetheless a power. True, she did not finish the yr as she had hoped. But it surely doesn’t negate her comeback.

The choose: Serena Williams

Serena Williams comeback player year

Getty Photos

Subsequent week we’ll do the ATP poll.

Onward…

Mailbag 

Have a query or remark for Jon? E mail him at jon_wertheim@yahoo.com or tweet him @jon_wertheim.

Hey Jon,

Learn your stuff on Jim Courier and did some digging. His head-to-head towards his friends is sort of spectacular—wow, he was a darn good participant. I all the time was postpone by the optics of his postage-stamp small racket model with that “bizarre” forehand and that staccato serve movement. Nonetheless, it appears he just about dominated, or at the very least held his personal, towards everybody he performed. He could also be a bit under-appreciated. 4 slams, world No. 1 rating. You must actually present him some love, now that he’s on his approach out of the limelight for now.  Humorous how a participant who has a enjoying model similar to him, Jack Sock, can not seem to get it collectively at the present time.  The thoughts is a wierd factor…
Patrick, Norway

 • Present Courier some love? You bought the unsuitable man. No, significantly, you’re completely proper. Federer/Nadal/Djokovic have distorted and contorted norms. After them, we are going to return to a interval when gamers don’t win double-digit majors. We are going to return to a world wherein 4 Slams, 500+ match wins, 23 titles and a prime rating makes for an A+ profession. I might add that Jim has been simply as spectacular post-tennis. I do not need to blow an excessive amount of smoke right here, however he’s testomony to the facility of curiosity. 

Did you watch the Beijing last? You hardly ever see Delpo being outhit by an opponent’s forehand!
@rdafreethinker

• This was despatched within the wake of Nikoloz Basilashivili outhitting Del Potro—sure, you learn proper—and profitable the China Open in Beijing. Basil, as he’s nicknamed by lazy typists all over the place, is now inside the highest 25 and has gained two titles and practically $2 million in 2018. Spoiler alert: subsequent week, once we take stock of the ATP awards, he’ll be our most improved winner.

Seek for steel straws on Amazon. The toweling-off concern begins and ends with Nadal. He’s by no means been a favourite for me as a result of annoyingly extreme toweling off after each friggin’ level. And why do you play sporting a watch?
@shoredogz

• 1. This can be a reference to Jamie Lisanti and I lamenting the decline of the plastic ingesting straw, environmentally problematic however so handy. 2. I might hardly single out Nadal—I as soon as noticed Kei Nishikori go to the towel after his opponent double-faulted. three. You play with a watch not since you need to be punctual, however since you are incentivized financially to take action.

Didn’t the extreme participant cheering for teammates in the course of the Laver Cup appear contrived?  When gamers are much more animated for a teammate throughout an exhibition than they’re for their very own play throughout a Grand Slam, doesn’t it appears contrived and scripted?
Richard, New York

• Just a few of you talked about that. I’m much less cynical. You could possibly present an unnatural quantity of emotion for a second (or one TV section) however for a complete weekend? These guys had been giddier than geriatrics at a Paul Simon live performance.

What about this rationalization: in a person sport that may be insular and lonesome, gamers relished a group environment. In addition they had been fast to kind in-group/out-group bonds that solely strengthened because the weekend progressed.

Hello Jon,

What are your ideas on the way forward for Madison Keys’s profession? There’s a lot to love about her recreation, however after one other yr beset with quite a few accidents, I ponder if she’ll ever be capable to keep wholesome lengthy sufficient to be imbedded close to the higher echelons of the sport. I’m fearful her profession is trending nearer to Elena Dementieva’s versus say, Maria Sharapova’s (the place I assumed she would find yourself by way of outcomes, Slams gained and so on.) Right here’s to hoping she will be able to enter the Australian summer season wholesome and able to win.
Craig
Honest query. Reality serum: Keys makes us confront the “no-cheering-in-the-press-box” edict. She’s a essentially good particular person. The tennis gods owe her some good karma. She’s so athletic and highly effective and proficient that it will be a pity if she did not choose off a significant or two. You point out well being and that’s an enormous issue. Already her profession has been interrupted mutiple occasions with accidents and surgical procedures. For what it’s value, it says right here that her profitable a significant stays a “when” and never an “if.”

Hey Jon,

Completely satisfied Canadian Thanksgiving!

Fast query: how can we get commentators to cease utilizing the expression “that win is an enormous scalp” for therefore and so?

I simply heard it on the finish of the McDonald/Raonic match in Shanghai and I’ve heard it used at the very least half a dozen occasions at completely different ATP tournaments for the reason that U.S. Open, all from British commentators. I will not title them as a result of I take pleasure in their work and I feel they’re blind to how offensive this phrasing is.
Darlene Hebert, Toronto

You simply did so eloquently.

What’s the distinction between a Zippo and a hippo?
Chris C., Maplewood, NJ

One is a bit lighter. (Outdated joke.)

Photographs, Miscellany

• Unhappy to learn this information concerning the New Haven Open.

• You will need to learn this piece by our pal Ryan Rodenberg on courtsiders:

• Loved this piece by Motoko Wealthy.

• Following a six-week voting interval which drew votes from greater than 130 international locations, the outcomes are in from the Worldwide Tennis Corridor of Fame’s first ever Fan Vote for Corridor of Fame induction.

Of the eight nominated candidates, Chinese language tennis nice and two-time main champion Li Na acquired the best variety of fan votes; Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanišević of Croatia completed in second; and two-time main champion Mary Pierce of France completed in third. 

• Three Thai chair umpires, Anucha Tongplew, Apisit Promchai and Chitchai Srililai, have been banned for all times from officiating at or attending any skilled tennis occasions, after being discovered responsible of match-fixing and betting offences.

Every of the officers admitted to betting on tennis matches at ITF Futures tournaments held in 2017 at which they had been performing as chair umpires. In addition they manipulated scores inputted into the official scoring system, for betting-related functions and private revenue.

• Congrats to Billie Jean King, who headlines a brand new marketing campaign for Pearle Imaginative and prescient.

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