WTA 2017 Preview – Players Who Could Amaze (2/2)
This WTA 2017 season preview is a continuation of a former article. Previously Elina Svitolina and Catherine Bellis were tipped as on the verge of a big year. Writer Shane Lambert adds on Daria Gavrilova and Kristyna Pliskova.
There are few players on tour that have the determination and heart of Daria Gavrilova, something that tennis fans will grow to appreciate in the years ahead. She could be compared to a young Andy Murray in the sense that her emotional energy is not necessarily funneled in a constructive manner. However, it’s clear that she wants to succeed on tour and I expect big things from Gavrilova in 2017.
Curently she is 22 years old, she plays for Australia, and she finished the 2016 WTA season as the World No. 25. She has no career singles titles, however she did hint at major improvement down the stretch of the 2016 season. Gavrilova made the final at WTA Moscow with a moderate draw through Carla Suarez-Navarro and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The Aussie didn’t win the title, but it was still a positive development for her to go so deep in a WTA event.
Gavrilova beat Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open to start the season and she followed suit with another win over the Czech in Madrid. Furthermore, Gavrilova beat Simona Halep on clay and both Timea Bacsinszky and Caroline Garcia on cement over the course of the season. Lastly, Gavrilova also defeated World No. 1 Angelique Kerber in Hong Kong, a major victory for the 22 year old.
That the Aussie beat strong players on both clay and cement suggests that she could be a factor in numerous events on tour. She never did much on grass, but if you were to have a weakness on tour the grass is where you would want it because the grass-court events are so few. Look for Gavrilova to easily make the Top 20 in 2017 with a deep run in a major possibly catapulting her into the Top 10.
The sister act is nothing WTA tennis fans aren’t used to and invariably one sister rises above the other. However, unlike the Williams sisters or the Radwanskas, the Pliskovas are different because they’re twins – and identical ones at that. With Karolina Pliskova making the US Open final, winning Cincinnati, and making the tour finals one has to wonder if sister Kristyna is bound for similar feats. After all, the DNA has got to be there and the pressure has to be there because of that.
Kristyna, who finished the year ranked 60th, did hint at an emergence in late 2016. She entered the post-US Open part of the season outside of the Top 120. However, after her sister made the Flushing Meadows final Kristyna seemed to elevate her game. She won a garbage title in Dalian, China before winning one that counted in Taskkent. She will probably spend a lot more time in quality tour events in 2017 instead of ITF ones. Look for her to get into the Top 30 on tour with potential for higher than that clear enough.