The bow has been tied and placed atop the WTA season, and it’s time to look ahead. I’ve analyzed some stats and checked my instincts to bring you my best guess for the 2023 WTA Top 10. I think the era of numerous one-and-done Grand Slam champions is starting to close, which is probably a good thing for the WTA. It’s important for stars to emerge so that compelling rivalries can be built. There’s no better way for a player to become a household name than to amass multiple Grand Slams.
Regarding the WTA Top 10 for 2023, very broadly, my philosophy is this: I perceive that trends in tennis usually begin on the men’s tour. Why is that? It’s a multifaceted and separate discussion we won’t do here right now. Purely from my own observations, it seems that it takes a year or two before new trends start to seep into the women’s game.
What I’m seeing in the men’s game is a slight uptick in net play. Players who are capable and competent at the net, such as Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Holger Rune and Rafael Nadal– generally had good seasons. Volley competency is simply one more tool in a player’s box. Former world number one Ashleigh Barty proved that, and I believe the trend toward a more varied game will continue to tick up on both tours.
With that in mind, here is my WTA Top 10 projection for 2023.
1. Iga Swiatek. Let’s not overthink this. Iga, Iga, Iga until proven otherwise. The current world number one and global superstar has a Grand Slam tally of 3. Look for her to add to that (more below) in 2023. With her sublime forehand and stable disposition, Swiatek is poised to repeat as boss. With 66% of first serve points one, she can still improve, which is scary for everyone else. High ceiling for Swiatek.
2. Caroline Garcia. Get ready to have the now-cringey Andy Murray quote about Garcia being a future number one pulled out a few more times. At 29 years old, she’s finally hitting her stride, and you know what? That’s normal. Late bloomers can be found across every sport on the planet. Because of her history of doubles, Garcia has solid net skills, and this year, she decided to start ripping the ball. Ok then! Her solidified serve has been pivotal to her ascent. Garcia lead the tour with 394 aces, besting Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina and other players who typically come to mind as great servers. CarGar watch, activated.
3. Barbora Krejikova. Time for a Cheeky-ssance for one of my favorite players in terms of reliability. Krejikova was injured for most of 2022, but she should be back to full steam in time for the 2023 Australian Open. She’s obviously a brilliant doubles player, as a former world number one, but her strokes are extremely clean in singles. This is a rare case where I would tell her to limit her doubles schedule in 2023. She has the game for singles.
4. Aryna Sabalenka. What an up-and-down year for the Belarussian. The thing I like about Sabalenka is that she’s legitimately interesting, both as a player and a personality. The WTA needs that. The serve is gold-plated when the yips are at bay. But at just 37% of return games won this year, let’s work on putting more returns in play. Sabalenka has to know she’s got the game to rally with any player on tour. Aryna could leap the Grand Slam hurdle this year. She’s got a beat on Swiatek with a key win in the WTA Finals.
5. Ons Jabeur. Ons came so close to capturing a Grand Slam this year with appearances in two finals. She broke barriers by becoming the highest-ranked Arab and African woman in WTA history. I sense a slight letdown coming this year after her breakout 2022. But Jabeur is an all-court player, which holds up well over time. One of the best pure athletes on tour in terms of hands and hops, I’d like to see Jabeur run more patterns and freewheel less. But she’s guaranteed to make it show.
6. Daria Kasatkina. This resurgent Russian seems to be in a great place mentally right now, which is why I like her for 2023. As we all hope and pray for an end to the Russian attack on Ukraine, such an event would free up Kasatkina even more. Her tennis is feisty and fearless, starting with a superb return game. With close to 60% 2nd serve return points won, we’re venturing into Rafa territory in that metric. Keep attacking those weak 2nd serves, Daria.
7. Coco Gauff. It seems like Coco has been around forever, but she’s only 18 years old. Her trajectory has been steady and incremental. She broke through the WTA Top 5 this year and earned spots at the WTA Finals in both singles and doubles. Like Krejikova, I would ease up my doubles schedule in 2023 to prevent burnout. Women so often can be people pleasers (raises hand), and these players need to carefully manage their calendars. The sooner they realize this “just say no” boss approach is what Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova did, the quicker they will vie for number one.
8. Maria Sakkari. If she’s not already working with a mental coach like Swiatek is, she might consider it. The Greek star will look to quiet the mind on key points in 2023. She’s got the forehand and the aggressive game. An issue is her serve. She’s got the makings of something solid, but she’s only putting 58% of first serves in. That won’t do. Get a set game plan on both first and second serve for any given score and situation, and she’ll be on track to finish Top 10 again.
9. Belinda Bencic. Is there a peskier out on tour? I look for the Swiss to continue her steady comeback. With pristine strokes and a shot tolerance that won’t quit, I see Bencic re-entering the Top 10. She’s still only 25 years old, but she’s got plenty of experience. To do list: Improve that second serve, and get the second serve points won back up over 50%. Don’t let them attack that.
10. Linda Fruhvirtova. I had to pick a meteor outlier. I like this 17-year-old from the Czech Republic with a solid serve, a weaponized forehand, and good speed. If she can maintain her balance and continue to develop a varied game style, I like her chances to build upon her first WTA title in Chennai.
Outside of this 2023 WTA projected Top 10, I offer a few other predictions. Just to keep it fun. Kaia Kanepi won’t retire. Simona Halep’s ban will be upheld because the test results are unmovable. Swiatek will win a minimum of 2 Slams. Someone completely off the radar– a player we’re not even talking about– will emerge. And several tennis pundits will say they knew she would all along. And they are happy for her. Mental health will still be a hot topic, and I believe Naomi Osaka and Emma Raducanu will continue to work through some of this, which is why I haven’t projected either of them in the WTA Top 10 for 2023.
Bring on the offseason prognosticating! Let me hear from you on Tennis Twitter with yours.
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