Tennis

Female tennis stars nominated for WTA Player of the Year award

Ashleigh Barty
Ashleigh Barty is among tennis stars named for the WTA player of the year award. Photo/Essentially Sports

The WTA awards 2021 will be exciting after a riveting season – it is time to crown the WTA Player of the Year. And the top names that have made it to the list are Naomi Osaka, Emma Raducanu, Barty, Muguruza, Swiatek, Sabalenka and Barbora Krejcikova.

The season brought a lot of action on the court including Raducanu and Canadian star Leylah Fernandez. The duo stunned at Flushing Meadows during the US Open 2021 in New York.

WTA gives an award to a player who showed exemplary performance during the season. The WTA Player of the Year is as coveted as a Grand Slam title is.

Here is a highlight of what each player achieved throughout the season.

Emma Raducanu

Emma Raducanu

Emma Raducanu. [Photo/Sky Sports

She, by all means, deserves a nomination for the Player of the Year award. The 18-year-old made a show at Flushing Meadows during her final match against Fernandes. She made history by becoming the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam.

Her game was on another level. She did not drop even a single set. Although no more wins from her after the US Open she made history and is already in the limelight.

Raducanu was as subject of debate after Indian Wells where she failed to shine like in New York. Then, there was the Transylvanian Open in Romania where she made a great start but failed to get to the semis.

And while all this happened, the clarion call was “get a coach”. Raducanu had no coach since her New York victory. Talks of her coach began after her 6-2 6-4 loss to Aliaksandra Sasnovich at the Indian Wells 2021. She walked off in the second round after a gallant defeat.

Her former coach Mark Petchey coached Raducanu between July to December 2020 and March to April 2021. Their arrangement was temporary and ended way back before she shook the world at Flushing Meadows.

Then, Andrew Richardson took over and left after the teen won her first Grand Slam. A few weeks back after the ATP Finals knockout, she finally picked Torben Beltz. Beltz is Angelique Kerber’s former coach.

She did this to get ready for the 2022 season starting with the Australian Open.

Barbora Krejcikova

The 2021 season was a fascinating moment for Krejcikova. She may not have bagged a major award but she played so well in her matches. It is almost sensational.

Garbine Muguruza

Her resilience and wit booked her a WTA Player of the Year nomination. She was consistent but suffered recurring injuries that affected her season and performance as well.

She won several trophies including the WTA Finals to end the year in the top 10 (3). Remarkably, she won the French Open Grand Slam and the WTA Finals.  It was a splendid season for her starting at 65th in ranking and closing the year at 5th ranking.

Aryna Sabalenka

Sabalenka’s 2021 season showed the power of a changed mindset. She shook off all setbacks that dogged her performance in the beginning and made a good season out for herself.

The Belarusian player trounced heavyweights in the game in the run for Grand Slams. And she won the WTA 1000 trophy in Madrid despite struggling with injury through the season. She still managed to finish second behind Barty.

Ashleigh Barty

Ashleigh Barty

Ashleigh Barty. Photo/Deri Pepper

Barty’s consistency in 2021 paid off handsomely. She goes to record as the most consistent player of the season. She won two WTA 1000 trophies – Miami and Cincinnati.

The Australian also won a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and another Grand Slam at Wimbledon.

She stayed off WTA Finals to recover from an injury she picked at the US Open.

Naomi Osaka

The Japanese player had a roller coaster of a season. It began on a high by winning in the Australian Open – another Grand Slam – but it was the beginning of a tough season.

Osaka dropped off from the French Open and Wimbledon citing her mental wellness. Then, the defining moment came at the U.S Open. Her resilience was pushed even harder when she lost to World number 73 Canadian tennis player Leylah Fernandez, she was devastated.

The 18-year-old Canadian thrashed Osaka despite never having played in the Grand Slam. Her thrashing by Fernandez – 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4 – at Flushing Meadows in the U.S Open pushed her to more pain.

The third-round defeat in the U.S Open came with a barrage of mixed feelings for Osaka. And this compounded her decision to take a break from tennis.

“I feel like for me, recently, when I win, I don’t feel happy, I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad,” she told the press after the match.

However, she is ready for a comeback in 2022 after taking a break and even going to Greece for a vacation.

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