2018 closing comment: Naomi Osaka announced herself as a genuine star in 2018 when she won the US Open. Osaka possesses power that few can match, on her day she is extremely difficult for any opponent to overcome, on any surface. Importantly, Osaka has drastically improved her consistency and mental strength under the guidance of Sascha Bajin which has allowed her to soar to the top of the sport. Osaka's game still has significant room for improvement, that is a scary prospect for the rest of the tour.
2018 closing comment: Karolina Pliskova continues to be impressive but unspectacular. Pliskova made it to the WTA Finals for a third consecutive year in 2018, highlighting just how consistently good she has been over the last couple of years. However, it feels like Pliskova has not really improved in recent times and she has a real tendency to struggle against certain opponents (the best defenders / counter-punchers). Pliskova’s serve also does not seem to be the weapon it once was, her ace count was well down in 2018.
2018 closing comment: In 2018 Kiki Bertens proved that she is not just a clay court specialist. Bertens had a career best season in 2018 which saw her reach the WTA Finals for the first time. Bertens’ improvements were clearest at Wimbledon and Cincinnati. Bertens defied the odds to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon before winning the biggest title of her career in Cincinnati. Bertens has now proven that she can play well on every surface. Bertens has a unique, versatile yet powerful game which can see her climb even higher in 2019.
2018 closing comment: Kerber joined an exclusive group when she won her third Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2018. Kerber has achieved more than anyone could have hoped from her and can now play out the rest of her career without any pressure or obligations. Kerber has shown over the last few years that she can randomly peak at the biggest events, it is on the biggest stages that she is most dangerous, further major titles are certainly not out of the question for one of the strongest players on tour.
2018 closing comment: Petra Kvitova is back. Kvitova won 5 titles in 2018, when she was on she was almost unstoppable, showing that her best is still as good as it gets. Inconsistency is still an issue for Kvitova and probably always will be, Kvitova really struggled at the Grand Slams in 2018, no doubt 2019 will see Kvitova largely focus on performing well in the 4 Grand Slams. If Kvitova gets things together at a major, she is still a threat and chance to win a third major.
2018 closing comment: Ash Barty ends 2018 at a career high ranking of 15 after winning the biggest title of her career in Zhuhai in the final week of the season. 2018 wasn’t necessarily a great season for Barty and she continues to achieve average results at Grand Slam events, however there is no denying her talent and ability to get the job done against opponent ranked below and around her.
2018 closing comment: Halep finally claimed an elusive Grand Slam title at Roland Garros in 2018 in what was her fourth appearance in a Grand Slam final. Halep's determination and consistency has been extremely admirable over the last couple of seasons and has seen her end the WTA season at world number 1 for two years in a row. Halep is one of the toughest competitors on tour but importantly she is also one of the most genuine players on tour. Expect her to be at the top of the game for years to come.
2018 closing comment: Elina Svitolina ended 2018 on the ultimate high by winning the WTA Finals in Singapore, the biggest title of her career to date. Svitolina is now arguably the best player on tour to have not won a Grand Slam title, that is the big goal for Svitolina in 2019, to win a Grand Slam title. There is no doubt that she is capable of winning a Grand Slam title in the near future, perhaps the confidence from winning Singapore is what Svitolina needs to take the next step at a major. Svitolina is one of the greatest competitors on tour and will take some beating whenever she steps on the court.
2018 closing comment: When Sloane Stephens is at her best, she is one of the best players on tour. Over the last couple of years Sloane has shown that when she wants to do well, she usually does well, this is more often than not at major events. After winning the US Open in 2017, Sloane had a great year in 2018 by winning the Miami Open, reaching the Roland Garros final and finally reaching the final of the WTA Finals. Expect Stephens to remain at the top of game for years to come.
2018 closing comment: Serena Williams made a successful return to the courts in 2018, despite limited tournament participation, Serena managed to reach back-to-back Grand Slam finals at Wimbledon and the US Open. Unfortunately for Serena she was beaten in straight sets in both of those finals and really lowered her colours in a disappointing final in New York. Whether Serena can add to her Grand Slam tally will be one of the main talking points in 2019.