In the first of two posts in two days, i will run down my personal best WTA matches of 2016. I am awful at making decisions, so there is 50 compared to the 25 i originally planned! Some of these matches may seem a little left field, but I will explain my reasoning as to why the match charted as one of my personal faves of the 2016 season.
50. Sabine Lisicki df Samantha Stosur 6-4 6-2 (Wimbledon R2)
Everyone knows my love of Lisicki, and especially Lisicki on grass. In a year with hardly nothing to shout about, this was Lisicki’s stand out match of the season as she served 12 aces, and won the first 20 of 22 points on her own serve to defeat French Open Semi Finalist Sam Stosur for the second time at the All England club. Here’s hoping for a more positive 2017 for Sabine!
49. Alize Cornet df Tatjana Maria 6-3 6-7(5) 6-4 (Roland Garros, R2)
This one is here purely for the drama and the handshake alone. Cornet controlled the match for the first set and a half, after getting broken back in the second set, starting getting fatigued. She lost the second set on a tiebreak, and was seemingly cramping. During the final set she took some dubious MTO’s for leg injuries (not cramping as it is not allowed). Cornet finally won the match and celebrated as if she just won the golden calendar slam (PEAK). Maria was not happy, and threatened to sue the French Open… Good luck with that! See the following link for gif by gif analysis of the whole drama. https://thetennisisland.com/2016/05/26/a-song-for-cornet-a-firework-on-rg16s-day-five/
48. Lucie Safarova df Karolina Pliskova 6-4 7-6(4) (Prague, SF)
In a year where Lucie’s singles never really got off the ground following illness at the end of 2015, Prague was one of the standout weeks for the Czech. She picked up her 7th career title in Prague, and FINALLY logged her first win over fellow Czech Karolina Pliskova since 2012. She came from 1-4 down in the second set. Highlights of this match are scarce, but I have included a video of the second set tiebreak for you!
47. Dominika Cibulkova df Viktorija Golubic 6-3 7-5 (Linz, F)
If i were ever glad a match didn’t descend into a third set, this would be near the top of the list! Nerves were aplenty for Cibulkova and her fans going into the Linz final. If she won it, she’d lock herself in as the seventh player to enter the WTA finals in Singapore. Cibulkova won the first set after breaking Golubic’s serve at 4-3, and holding serve. She raced ahead in the second set 3-1, before Golubic rebounded firing backhand winners all over the place to lead 5-4. Cibulkova saved FOUR set points, before holding serve, breaking her opponents serve, and then holding serve to win the title and lock her place in Singapore. *The below video isn’t the greatest quality :(*
46. Agnieszka Radwanska df Karolina Pliskova 6-2 7-6(8) (Stuttgart, QF)
This was a interesting match between Aga and Karolina in Stuttgart this year. It was a match of contrasting styles between two players who have found the clay courts difficult in recent times. After exchanging breaks early in the first, Radwanska pulled away and took the first set, with Pliskova seemingly clueless on how to play Aga. The second set was tighter with Pliskova going up an early break. Radwanska broke back, and then saved SEVEN break points at 5-5 before the match headed to a tense tie break (see Pliskova’s anger at the point 6-6). This was a fun match, with Pliskova seemingly getting closer to taking a set of Aga. Ultimately she finished the season with a 0-7 H2H against Aga, and an even worse 0-14 in sets won…
45. Carla Suarez-Navarro df Andrea Petkovic 4-6, 7-6(5) 7-6(5) (Birmingham, R3)
This may seem an odd choice in this countdown, as it is not a match that was widely watched or discussed during the grass season. This makes the list, as it was my favorite live match of the year. On the outer court at the Aegon Classic, this was a real tussle that got me PUMPED over two days! Petkovic started really well, and was playing some of the most fabulous tennis i’d seen her play in 2016. She served for the match in the second set, but was broken and dropped the second set on a tiebreak. I believe after this set there was a rain delay, and CSN came strong the next day to lead either 5-1 or 5-2. Petkovic was seemingly getting angry at the fact her coaching team were not clapping or helping her fight. A group of us started doing that, cheering and clapping after every point won. Petkovic then won a series of games to lead 6-5 in the third. I’m not saying we made her do that, but i hope that in some way it helped! Ultimately she lost in the third set breaker, but it was an epic match to have witnessed live!
44. Naomi Broady df Ana Ivanovic 7-5 6-4 (Auckland, R1)
I was super happy that Naomi started the year qualifying for a WTA event, but i did not expect the few days that followed! She drew former Auckland champion in the first round, and played some powerful tennis to take the match in straight sets, and log her first top 20 win. The best was yet to come though 😉
43. Dominika Cibulkova df Caroline Garcia 0-6 6-3 6-4 (Madrid, R2)
This match was just crazy. After logging a great win against Radwanska in the first round of Madrid, Cibulkova came into this round and struggled massively from the off. Garcia was playing some of her best tennis, against an error-strewn Cibulkova and found herself 6-0,3-0 up. Cibulkova then won her first game and rattled 6 games off the bounce to take the second set. She then broke Garcia leading 5-4 in the third to win the match. She went on to make the final in Madrid in one of the best weeks of her season.
42. Petra Kvitova df Monica Niculescu 2-6 7-6(5) 6-2 (Stuttgart, R2)
This match was amazing, just for the complete contrast in styles. I really enjoy watching Monica Niculescu confuse and irritate players with her wacky game, and i equally enjoy watching her opponents figure out how to play her. Niculescu started the match in fine form with some awesome slice shots. Kvitova seemingly was struggling with the bounces caused by Niculescu’s shot making. The second set was a wild affair with Kvitova taking a hefty lead. However Monica hit back saving a set point on her own serve, before having the chance to serve it out herself. Kvitova saved three match points, with one being a dead netcord. Petra took the second on a tiebreak, and ran away with the third as Niculescu got tired.
41. Johanna Konta df Venus Williams 7-5 5-7 6-2 (Stanford, F)
Johanna Konta has a career best 2016, making the semi’s in Australia, cracking the top 10 and winning her first title in Stanford. Playing with aggression and accuracy Konta played great tennis to nab this title. I remember her serve being a real weapon during this match. She had a slight blip in the second set losing it 5-7 after leading 4-1, but against such a champion in Venus Williams, you can never count her out. Here’s hoping for some more titles in 2017.
40. Karolina Pliskova df Garbine Muguruza 6-2 6-7(4) 7-5 (Singapore, RR)
This match was laughable, as it contained so many momentum shifts. You had no idea who was going to win this one. Pliskova was seemingly in control, leading by a set and 3-0, before Garbine hit back with some wonderful tennis to take the second set on a breaker. Muguruza pulled way ahead on the third to lead 4-0, but in one of the biggest comebacks of the year Pliskova came storming back and broke Muguruza’s serve at 6-5 to take the match. Muguruza even had a match point at 5-2, but missed an easy volley. Expect more from Singapore later!
39. Madison Keys df Naomi Osaka 7-5 4-6 7-6(3) (US Open, R3)
In another topsy turvy match which featured another gutsy comeback, Madison Keys battled through against rising star Naomi Osaka in one of my top matches of the US Open. After splitting the first two sets, Naomi came out swinging freely from the baseline in the third, and quickly found herself 5-1 up after Keys’s level also somewhat dropped. After finding herself 5-1 up, Naomi tightened up and struggled to serve the match out. A quite sad moment in the match saw her miss an easy volley at 5-4 30-30 on her serve, let out a massive scream, turn around and sob to herself. You can’t blame her, she’s still a young player learning the game, added the pressure of serving out a match against a top 10 player at their own slam. I’m sure Naomi will have a great 2017, and she was one of my favorite players I watched for the first time this season. I have no doubt in my mind that Keys v Osaka, will be a future grand slam Quarter/Semi/Final in the coming seasons.
38. Serena Williams df Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 7-6(1) (Indian Wells, SF)
It was great to see Aga have her closest match against Serena in a couple of years this year in Indian Wells. Radwanska was dealing with Serena’s power well, and was using the court, alongside some wonderful angles to go up 4-2 in the first set. Serena then turned her game on full, and boomed three massive winners to take the first set 6-4. The second set was another fun affair with Aga having the chance to serve for the second set at 6-5. If anyone questions whether Serena cares about non-slam events, watch the point and reaction from her when she broke Aga back to force that tiebreak, spoiler – She does!
37. Carla Suarez-Navarro df Jelena Ostapenko 1-6 6-4 6-4 (Doha, F)
Over the past couple of seasons I have really come to admire and love Carla’s game. I adore her cross court backhand, it just looks so effortless. This match was interesting as at the end of the first set you couldn’t see any way Carla could come back into this match. Ostapenko was blitzing Carla off court with her all power game. Although Ostapenko hit more aces and winners than Suarez-Navarro, she also hit far more errors, especially in the second and third sets. Also, Carla’s celebration was really heartwarming 🙂
36. Kiki Bertens df Daria Kasatkina 6-2 3-6 10-8 (Roland Garros, 3R)
What a match this was! I did not watch the majority of it, but the final set was enough! It was a big match for Bertens, not just in terms of the tournament she was playing, but her Olympic hopes also. The dutch tennis federation had told the dutch players that they had to make the second week of a grand-slam for them to be able to go. Bertens came into RG on a high, winning the tournament in Nurnberg, and then sensationally defeating Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in the first round. The ending of this match was dramatic, Kasatkina was seemingly injured, Bertens herself was injured, but Bertens reaction when she was just pure joy!
35. Angelique Kerber df Lara Arruabarrena 6-2 5-7 7-6(3) (Charleston, R2)
I love Charleston, it’s such a fun tournament and always draws such a fab line up even though it’s just after a premier mandatory on a different surface. Lara Arruabarrena is a great Spanish clay player, and took defending Charleston champion to the brink in this epic match this year. It was a match where both players finished with a positive winner/error ratio, and was full of exhausting rallies. Kerber pumped herself up just enough to grab the win in a third set tiebreak. It’s a shame there isn’t a more extended highlights video 😦
34. Maria Sakkari df Yafan Wang 6-4 1-6 6-3 (Australian Open, 1R)
This was a joyous moment to watch during the first couple of days of the Australian Open. Maria Sakkari of Greece won her first grand-slam singles match. She’s a polarizing player who is very passionate and fiery, i do think she’s going to be someone were going to talk about in seasons to come! It was tense watching her try and close the match, but her reaction was EVERYTHING ❤
33. Johanna Konta df Madison Keys 7-6(1) 4-6 6-4 (Beijing, SF)
This was such a fun semi final from Beijing this year. Both players were chasing Singapore slots and were both looking for their first premier mandatory final. Konta started well, going up an early break, but needed a tie break to take the first set. Keys went up 5-2 in the second, eventually winning the second 6-4, having saved two break points for 5-5. After exchanging breaks early in set 3, both players slugged by on serve until 5-4 where Konta broke to win. This was the match that also saw Konta break the top 10!
32. Johanna Konta df Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 4-6 8-6 (Australian Open, 4R)
Konta managed to log a win over ‘Bourne-Goat’ Makarova in both the ‘Bourne’ tournaments this year, with the first being in Melbourne! Knowing Makarova’s record at the Australian Open I dont think many had Konta down to win this match and make her first grandslam quarter final. The third set was the most epic, with both players getting fired up. I felt Makarova (more of this behavior later too..) let her fired up behavior get too negative, and she was getting rather angry. Konta got nervy serving for the match at 5-4 and was broken for 5-5. Konta then got the break again at 7-6, and made no faults here, serving it out to love with some great serving. It’s been a fab year for Jo, and i hope for more in 2017.
31. Monica Puig df Julia Goerges 7-5 6-7(4) 7-5 (Roland Garros, 2R)
Another underrated match from Roland Garros at 31. Monica Puig and Julia Goerges played a really physically tough match which featured some incredible rallies that saw both running all over the court. There was some drama towards the end as i believe both players were concerned about darkness as it went into over time. I love both Puig and Goerges, but they can both be a tad streaky, so it was great to see both of them peaking at once. I would love to re-watch the whole of the third set. Check out the way Goerges saved a few match points in the video below, talk about fearless!
30. Caroline Wozniacki df Agnieszka Radwanska 4-6 7-5 6-4 (Tokyo, SF)
After a disappointing start and middle of 2017, Wozniacki bought it from the US onwards, picking up some good results which will hopefully kickstart her into a good 2017. Coming into the match Aga had lost the previous three meetings against Caro, and looked like she was going to reverse the trend. Leading 5-3 in the second, the Pole failed to serve it out. Caro then swept into action and took the second 7-5. Again, Aga led 3-1 in the third, before Wozniacki came back hard to win the match 6-4 in the third. This is a match Aga should of won in straights, but we got treated to another set of fun tennis between the two.
29. Victoria Azarenka df Serena Williams 6-4 6-4
Azarenka really was one of the main stories of the first half of the season. Her comeback up the rankings and winning the sunshine double was great to watch. After some close tense matches in 2015, Azarenka finally logged her first win over Serena since the 2013 Cincinnati final with a straight sets win in the Indian Wells final. Despite some close games in the first set, Azarenka always looked the fresher and better of the two, and looked even hotter in the second set where she took a commanding 5-1 lead. She then tensed up a little trying to serve the match out. After saving some break points at 5-4, she finally got the win as a Serena return drifted long. I was on the edge of my seat during that last game i felt that tense!
28. Karolina Pliskova df Venus Williams 4-6 6-4 7-6(3) (US Open, 4R)
This match for me is the biggest “What If” match of 2017. Karolina Pliskova FINALLY made her first grand-slam Quarter Final (then semi.. then final…) at the US Open this year with a fabulous three set win over legend Venus Williams. Karolina saved a match point down 4-5 30-40 in the third set with a volley winner. I’m awful with volleys, as soon as a player goes to do one, i clench my teeth! I can’t help but ask what could of happened if Venus converted that match point, but Congrats to Pliskova on an incredible overdue run in New York.
27. Daria Gavrilova df Kristina Mladenovic 6-4 4-6 11-9 (Australian Open, 3R)
Gavrilova’s start to 2016 was great! She teamed up with Nick Kyrgios to win the Hopman Cup, before going on a thrilling run to the Australian Open second week defeating Kvitova in straights en route. Her match against Mladenovic was her stand out match, for more reasons than just the tennis! I still find it remarkable how after 2hrs and 50 minutes of absorbing tennis she is still bouncing around from the change of ends as if she could go on for hours. I can’t not mention the now infamous “I’m good from behind” comment too… Dasha you really are a gem 🙂
26. Dominika Cibulkova df Angelique Kerber 6-3 6-4 (WTA Finals, Singapore, F)
I still cannot believe i get to write about this, I am still ecstatic about the whole thing! Dominika Cibulkova WTA FINALS 2016 CHAMPION takes the last space on this section of the countdown, with her utterly flawless performance in the WTA Finals championship match against world number 1 Angelique Kerber. Cibulkova was on fire from point go, and hit some fabulous winners. Admittedly Kerber wasn’t the same player that battled through Domi in three sets a week earlier, but credit to Cibulkova, she showed up to win and she did so! Watching Cibulkova serve that match out was borderline painful for me as match points came and went. My parents were also watching, and my dads comments did not help! Congrats Domi, what an achievement 🙂
I hope you enjoyed part 1 of my matches of 2016 countdown! I will be posting the numbers 25-1 tomorrow so look out for it. If you agree/disagree or just have something to say, please please please leave a comment below, or pop me a tweet!