Angelique Kerber Headlines 2016 WTA Wuhan Draw

Angelique Kerber has been the top seed before, however this week she will enter a tournament draw for the first time as the World No. 1.

Angelique Kerber’s third week as the World No. 1 player will start on Monday. For the first time in her career she will enter an event as the top-ranked player in the world. The German, who is in the WTA Wuhan draw, looks very dangerous at a point in women’s tennis history where some star power is sort of lacking. That lack of star power is apparent in the Wuhan draw.

Firstly, when we look at the former World No. 1s that are still active on tour there aren’t any that are really looking too scary at the moment. Serena Williams, who recently announced an injury and will not contest the Wuhan draw, is fading and who knows if we’ll even see her play a match again in 2016. Meanwhile Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic both remain forces on tour, but major titles are still eluding the former No. 1s. Ana Ivanovic certainly isn’t significant on tour any more and she’s several years removed from her best tennis.

Other former top players include both Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, but they are completely out of the picture for the time being. Sharapova is still serving a suspension while Azarenka is pregnant. Those two missing players certainly help explain why the Wuhan draw looks a little depleted.

Caroline Wozniacki remains the only former World No. 1 that is still in her prime and potentially a challenge to Kerber. However, the German did not have trouble with the Dane in the US Open semifinals. Looking at Wuhan in particular, Wozniacki doesn’t have a great outlook as she should be tired entering the event after a busy week last week.

It’s very clear that Kerber is the heavy favorite at Wuhan this week. Garbine Muguruza is in the draw, however the Spaniard hasn’t showcased any kind of Top-10 calibre tennis since winning the French Open. In fact, her level of play has been so low post-Roland Garros that she has struggled with players ranked outside of the Top 20.

A serious contender at Wuhan after Kerber is hard to find. Maybe Simona Halep will play good, maybe Petra Kvitova will play good, maybe Roberta Vinci will play good, or maybe Svetlana Kuznetsova will play good. Madison Keys, Karolina Pliskova, and Agnieszka Radwanska are look more sure-footed in the draw, but each player has some bad losses recently as well.

For Kerber, she has to like her chances of backing up her top ranking. She recently commented about the prospects of playing a tournament as the Queen of tennis:

“I’m actually more excited. I know that I have the pressure on my shoulders because now nobody has anything to lose against me. The pressure is always on my side.

“But I am really looking forward to taking this challenge. It’s a new situation for me. I will try to not think too much about this because I learned from the years before that I have to really focus on every single day here.”

I think Kerber entered the US Open final under the most pressure she’d ever been under in her career. She handled that nerve-wracking match with poise and I’m expecting more of the same in China.

 

 

Shane Lambert