16 – Elena Vesnina, Russia, Age – 30
2016 was arguably Vesnina’s finest season on tour, which is a remarkable achievement, given that she has played parts of 15 seasons now. She reached her 1st ever SF at a grand slam at Wimbledon, with a fine result. A Doubles Finalist appearance with Makarova in Roland Garros, will surely remain in her memory for some time also.
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As will the Olympic Gold in Doubles, again teaming with her compatriot Makarova, although her only other noteworthy achievement was a runners-up effort in Charleston. 2017 will surely be tough, to maintain the points, though her realistic goal will be to keep the high level of consistency, to keep up with the younger, stronger girls.
17 – Venus Williams, United States, Age – 36
Venus was very good again this season, with a SF at Wimbledon her highlight, as well as 2 4th round efforts, in France and New York. Venus did manage a title to add to her awesome resume, winning Taiwan back in February, then she lost in Stanford to the exciting young Brit, Johanna Konta.
Though, the legendary Venus is 37, come next Wimbledon, she can be confident of continuing her fine career, albeit on a shortened schedule. She did fade late in the season, but is likely to bounce back to some strong form, utilizing her power game.
18 – Roberta Vinci, Italy, Age – 33
Vinci performed quite well in the major tournaments this season, though her age started to show, in other smaller tournaments. The highlight is undoubtedly a QF appearance in New York, while at the other end of the scale, she missed out totally at Roland Garros losing in Round 1.
A victory against, flop sophomore Belinda Bencic in St. Petersburg was her lone title in 2016, compared to other seasons where she won 2 or 3 for the last several years. Like other aging WTA veterans, 2017 may be a real challenge for Roberta as her best years are probably behind her, and a horde of younger players continue to develop.
19 – Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark, Age – 26
Late in 2016 Caroline found her form that made her #1 some years ago and leapt back into the contention discussion in almost all the tournaments that she participated in. The injury free surge culminated in her SF result in New York, her first major SF since 2011.
Caroline won late season tournaments on the Asian swing, namely Tokyo and Hong Kong, and will continue to rise up the rankings, if she keeps up this vain of form and remains injury free. 2017 could be Caroline’s break-out season, to finally find a major win, given her late 2016 form. The ultra-fit superstar will be a star attraction again on the WTA tour, as she flexes her muscle and performs well in 2017.
20 – Barbora Strycova, Czech Republic, Age – 30
2016 for Barbora was a good one, ending in glory again in the Fed Cup, though she reached the 4th round in Melbourne, and the 3rd Round in Roland Garros and Wimbledon, her most consistent year to date. She managed 2 finals in what is probably her best season on tour, where she lost to Errani in Dubai and Keys in Birmingham.
Her doubles results were much better, with 3 titles and 2 runners-up, teaming with a variety of doubles stars, such as Mirza, Pliskova and Montenegrin Kovinic. She ought to be optimistic for 2017, as she is in her prime and can realistically improve on her efforts of this season, giving her a rather high ceiling.
21 – Samantha Stosur, Australia, Age – 32
A French Open SF was a rare highlight for the Australian star, as she struggled most of the rest of the year, in particular at home in Melbourne, where she lost in the 1st round. A Finals loss to arch-rival Lucie Safarova in Prague was probably the only other highlight of her season, after a fine run back in April.
Overall, Samantha looks to have taken a step backward in her performances and may be starting to age, after a splendid effort earlier in her career. Overall, a strong 2017 remains unlikely for Stosur, but she could surprise and show her best again, as she is a dogged fighter.
22 – Kiki Bertens, Holland, Age – 24
Probably the most improved player on tour, 2016 is if nothing else, Bertens’ break-out season, with a particularly strong middle part of the year. The finest achievement of her year, was a French Open SF result, in a stunning run where she ousted Kerber, Keys and Bacsinszky among others.
She also managed a Finalist result in Acapulco, and won Nurnberg, Linz and Luxembourg in Doubles, and won Nurnberg in Singles, a rare double, also a Finalist result in Gstaad was a fine effort. 2017 is surely a glass-half-full scenario for the exciting Dutchwoman, who will look to break into the top 15, and find some fine results again.
23 – Shuai Zhang, China, Age – 27
Zhang had a decent 2016, with her best work coming early in the year, with a QF in Melbourne, easily her best result in any major. Other than that, there is plenty of scope for improvement in 2017, as she showed some glimpses of quality, such as the hiding she dealt to Bacsinszky in Zhuhai recently.
Being China’s #1 is definitely burdensome, but Zhang has a real chance to continue in this position, she has a game worthy of being top 20, and a fine doubles resume also. 2017, ought to be her best season, given this fine platform style year, and the Chinese will adore her for her efforts.
24 – Caroline Garcia, France, Age – 23
Garcia is a super exciting prospect and she had glimpses of what is to come this season, with her brilliant Fed Cup, 2 titles in singles, 4 in doubles, including a French Open triumph and a 3rd round effort in New York. Caroline, won Strasbourg and Mallorca earlier in the year, in singles and showed fairly well in Zhuhai the 2nd tier Finals tournament.
Her and Mladenovic won Charleston, Stuttgart, Madrid and Roland Garros in doubles and were Finalists in Beijing, New York, Dubai and Sydney. Thus, she is positioned to become a star in both formats of the game, at the tender age of 23, a superstar in the making. 2017, will see her do even better things and her ceiling is a top 10 player for the next decade.
25 – Daria Gavrilova, Australia, Age – 22
Known as Dasha she performed exceptionally well in Melbourne with a 4th Round appearance, and can be expected to perform this well often, as she has a good all round game and many years ahead of her. There was plenty of low-lights with failures in the other 3 majors, but she did manage a Finalist result in Moscow late in the year, and a win over Kerber, late in the season too.
Overall, an exciting non-power type of player, with a high level of play not out of the question, but will need to do it all very well, against the bigger stronger girls. 2017, could be another solid year for the youngster, but it would not surprise if she took some more time to find her best consistently.
Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/48216484@N00/7517661270/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/