The moment is almost here! We’re only a few days until the 2017 WTA season gets underway in Brisbane, Auckland and Shenzhen. After a 2016 season full of shocks and surprises, it’s not easy to predict what lies ahead but I’ll do my very best. First up, I’m looking at world number one Angelique Kerber.
This time last year no one, and I mean no one, predicted that Angelique Kerber would have the 2016 that she went on to achieve. Unquestionably the best player of the year, the year end world number one, Australian Open and US Open champion, runner-up at Wimbledon and the Tour Finals and an Olympic silver medallist. It’s going to be extremely difficult for Kerber to produce another year of a similar scale, but if she’s in the same mindset as she was in the latter half of 2016, I firmly believe she can stay top of the pile.
While she has a lot of points to defend in January (Australian Open champion and Brisbane runner-up), with the exception of winning Stuttgart and making the semis in Miami and Charleston, her form tailed off badly for the few months after winning in Melbourne with early losses in Doha, Indian Wells, Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros.
The consistency she showed from Wimbledon onwards indicates that there are many opportunities for her to pick up ranking points in the first half of the year and hold on to the number one spot. She also has the huge advantage of having one of the best coaching relationships in the entire sport, having worked with Torben Beltz for 12 of the past 13 years. She kicks off her year with a return to Brisbane before playing Sydney (a confusing move) then the big one – her first ever Grand Slam title defence at the Australian Open.
Kerber has plenty of challengers waiting in the wings with their sights set on major success in 2017 but there’s no reason why she can’t continue at the level she’s shown she’s capable of and continue to soar.