Tennis: Predicting the ATP’s & WTA’s movers and shakers for 2018 – Part 4

The ATP and WTA had quite a few injury tales in 2017, and one of those included Stan Wawrinka’s knee injury which forced him out of competitive tennis after the Wimbledon.

 

The partnership of Stan Wawrinka and Magnus Norman

The “Norman-Wawrinka” team was one of the most successful partnerships in pro-tennis, which came to an end in October 2017. Therefore, naturally, some people doubt Stan Wawrinka’s ability to perform well without the presence of Magnus Norman by his side.

Stan Wawrinka always had the talent and big game before his partnership with Magnus Norman.

Wawrinka considers clay to be his best surface. The Clay favors the long back-swing on his one-handed backhand. He uses his upper body to create an inordinate amount of pace on the ball, and that can compel Roger Federer to play five feet behind the baseline. The only other shot which can cause similar damage with consistency would be Del Potro’s forehand. Wawrinka can hit right through a player, and his backhand is as dreaded as Roger’s and Rafa’s forehands.

Wawrinka, described as “Tennis’ great latecomer” by the Economist, was a talent before he teamed up with Magnus Norman in April 2013. Wawrinka was number 17 in the ATP rankings then. Incidentally, Wawrinka was granted a formal change of name by the ATP from Stanislas to Stan Wawrinka in 2014.

Stan always had that Whiplash of a backhand and the booming serve. Magnus Norman, however, should be credited with ensuring their appropriate implementation in tight moments, and for making Stan consistent enough to tame the big four, especially, in the big match situations. Under Norman’s guidance, Stan won the Australian Open beating Rafael Nadal in 2014, French Open in 2015 and US Open in 2016 by dominating Novak Djokovic, and Monte Carlo Rolex Masters by schooling the Great Roger Federer.

 

Wawrinka’s inconsistencies and lack of focus.

Wawrinka was inconsistent prior to his team-up with Magnus Norman and lacked the focus that is required to win slams. Magnus’ guidance, however, helped Stan focus on select tournaments, he knew, he could win. Norman also helped Stan become mentally tough and believe in his strengths in those tight moments at 30-30, and break and match points.

The win over Tomas Berdych in the semifinals of the 2013 Madrid Masters, catapulted Wawrinka into the top ten and he has been there ever since.

 

Stan Wawrinka’s 2017 was shaping up well prior to the knee injury.

In 2017, Stan Wawrinka started by skipping the Chennai Open, which he had won three straight years in 2016, 2015 and 2014 and played in Brisbane instead. He went down to Kei Nishikori in the semifinals, in Brisbane, and lost the Australian Open to Roger Federer in a tightly contested semifinal. At the Indian Wells Masters, he was beaten by Roger Federer in the finals again. Wawrinka also lost to Alexander Zverev in the fourth round of the Miami Masters. In the French Open, he beat Andy Murray in the semifinals but went down to Rafael Nadal in the finals. Wawrinka’s last match in 2017 was the first round of the Wimbledon, against Daniil Medvedev. He lost 3-1 to Medvedev and then announced that he’d undergo surgery to repair the damage to his knee, and miss out on the remaining 2017 season.

Except for his Wimbledon loss which can be attributed to his knee injury, Wawrinka had a reasonably good 2017. He finished the year 9th in the ATP rankings even with missing half of the 2017 season.

 

What can we expect of Stan Wawrinka in 2018?

Assuming Wawrinka returns with a fully healed knee, he should be able to get back into form soon and manage to overcome the absence of Magnus Norman. Wawrinka is mature enough to know and implement what had worked, under Norman, on his own or under another coach. However, the knee may take some time to fully heal and strengthen, which may affect Stan’s performance for the first few months of 2018. The knee could be in good condition by the French Open where Stan is a threat with or without Magnus Norman.

 

Caroline Wozniacki’s 2017 was stellar by most accounts.

Caroline Wozniacki is 3 in the WTA rankings for 2017. She won the year-end WTA Finals in Singapore, and beat all, except Caroline Garcia, quite convincingly.

At the year-end finals, she beat the world number one Simona Halep, and Elina Svitolina for the first time, after losing to her twice, in 2017. In the semifinals, she beat Karolina Pliskova and schooled Venus Williams for the first time ever in the finals. If the courts in Singapore were not so painfully slow, she would probably be the favorite to win the 2018 Australian Open. However, the courts in Singapore were tailor-made to suit Caroline Wozniacki’s playing style.

In 2017, Caroline won two titles including the year-end WTA Finals and finished the year with a 60-21 win-loss record. She also won in Tokyo by beating Cibulkova in quarterfinals, Garbine Muguruza in the semifinals, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the finals.

Caroline also lost two finals to Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina, and one each to Johanna Konta and Katerina Siniakova.

 

Caroline Wozniacki’s playing style can take down the best of them.

Caroline is a retriever to the core and a moon-baller par excellence. She is also one of the best movers on the court which helps her retrieving style and makes her dangerous to anyone except the hard-hitters who are also consistent. Even wily shotmakers like Agnieszka Radwańska have a losing 11-6 head-to-head against Caroline Wozniacki. To beat Caroline, one not only needs to be hard-hitting but also consistent. Inconsistent, though hard-hitting, Karolina Pliskova has a 6-3 losing head-to-head against Wozniacki.

 

Can Caroline Wozniacki win a slam in 2018?

Although Caroline Wozniacki is not our best bet to win a slam in 2018, the possibility cannot be entirely written off. She has matured as a player and understands the strengths and shortcomings of her game well enough to make a serious run, till the very end, at a slam. Could 2018 be the “year of the Woz?”

  • Elfhir

    I read sometimes your blog and I like your analyses on the current Tennis scene.

    Just a mistake in your memory, Stan Wawrinka won US Open 2016 against Djokovic, Murray was defeated by Nishikori (who was then defeated by Stan the man).
    Stan great won against Murray in RG was one of his greatest.

    I hope this year will be finally a more “shared-one” : 2017 was a year with finally some new M 1000 winners, Dimitrov, Zverev, and Sock. Some new finalists for Slam as Anderson, some great talented players as Cilic and Wawrinka.
    And then the Maestro and Nadal reach so many finals, won so many big titles.
    And late bloom by Del Potro or Goffin during the year is far than enough yet.
    We saw also Murrray and Djokovic extinct … and Nishikori, Raonic too. Berdych, and moreover Ferrer will maybe never won better than a ATP 250 again.

    I hope a more shared year with new winners in Slam :
    Australian by JMP or Goffin
    RG by Thiem or Stan
    Wimbledon by Cilic or Dimitrov
    US by Murray in a late recovery.

    Pouille, Kyrgios, Busta, Goffin in new winners in M 1000, and some for Nadal too.

    With a more balanced ending year !

    Have a nice ending year.

    • Elfhir

      And as a french supporter, I hope Caroline Garcia to won again !

    • admin

      You are right Wawrinka beat Djokovic in the US Open in 2016. Thanks for pointing that out.

    • Joy

      You are right. Stan beat Djokovic in the finals of the 2016 US Open. Thanks for pointing that out.