20. Miami SF: Serena Williams d. Simona Halep 6-2 4-6 7-5
Simona Halep has emerged as one of Serena’s biggest threats over the last year, after thumping the world number 1 in Singapore last year, Simona came extremely close to another victory over Serena at the semi-final stage in Miami. This match was all about power vs defence. Serena was brutally striking the ball but Simona’s outstanding movement and counter-punching ability resulted in an extremely competitive semi-final in front of a vocal crowd in Miami.
The crowd was actually a major factor in this match, despite Serena being an 8 time former champion and playing at her home event, the majority of the crowd were vocally supporting the Romanian. Serena was not happy about this and really let it get to her.
The final set was particularly entertaining, Serena was battling herself, the crowd and Simona. Serena led 4-1 but Halep managed to fight back to level the set at 5-5. In the end Serena had too much firepower and captured a memorable win. This rivalry is one which should flourish over the next couple of years, Simona looks like the biggest chance to contend for the number 1 ranking and has shown that she is capable of beating the American.
19. Singapore F: Aga Radwanska d. Petra Kvitova 6-2 4-6 6-3
This is the only match to make the list from the WTA Finals in Singapore. The tournament didn’t produce as many truly spectacular matches as it usually does. However the best was saved until last. The final between Aga and Petra was truly memorable, a battle of extreme contrasting styles. Radwanska would ultimately produce an amazingly clean performance to prevail and claim the biggest title of her career.
Remarkably, Radwanska finished the match with just 5 unforced errors and 15 winners whilst Kvitova hit 41 winners and committed 53 unforced errors. It was match unlike any other, it is extremely rare to see a player hit just 5 unforced errors in a highly competitive final against a high quality opponent.
Radwanska totally outplayed an erratic Kvitova in the first set and a bit before the Czech starting playing lights out tennis to send the match into a decider. Kvitova would carry her momentum into the decider where she captured an early break. Radwanska managed to weather the storm before raising her level to claim a famous victory.
18. Wimbledon R3: Jelena Jankovic d. Petra Kvitova 3-6 7-5 6-4
Wimbledon was full of great matches in 2015, the first of the matches from Wimbledon to make the list is Jankovic’s epic victory over Petra Kvitova, the defending champion.
Jelena Jankovic’s shock third round victory over Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon was one of the biggest upsets of the year. Kvitova was the defending champion at the event and was considered one of the favourites after storming through her first two matches. Kvitova looked like she would cruise through this match but Jankovic staged a stunning fightback to record one of her greatest victories.
Kvitova was at her ruthless best early in this match, opening up a lead by a set and a break. However Jankovic would show all of her famous fighting qualities to turn the second set around before claiming a tight deciding set. It really was a superb performance by Jankovic, especially considering it was on her least preferred surface up against an opponent that has played her best tennis on grass.
17. Toronto SF: Belinda Bencic d. Serena Williams 3-6 7-5 6-4
Belinda Bencic produced the biggest victory of her career thus far and one of the biggest upsets of the year when she defeated Serena Williams at the semi-final stage of the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Bencic played superb tennis leading into the match but she was given little chances against the almighty world number 1, however Bencic would produce a stunning display to dent Serena’s U.S Open preparations.
What made Bencic’s victory over Serena more special is that she was forced to come from a set down. Serena is the best front runner in the game, coming from a set down to defeat Serena is almost unheard of. Serena comfortably won the opening set before Bencic raised her level to claim a tight second set and send the match to a decider.
Bencic had a 5-1 lead in the deciding set before Serena came roaring back with 3 straight games. It looked like Serena would make another trademark comeback as Bencic twice failed to serve out the match. However Bencic would break for the match to secure an extraordinary win before going on to win the title.
16. Wimbledon R3: Serena Williams d. Heather Watson, 6-2 4-6 7-5
Serena Williams and Heather Watson’s third round clash at Wimbledon exceeded all expectations. Heather Watson came agonisingly close to pulling off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the tournament and sending the vocal British crowd into hysterics.
Serena comfortably claimed the opening set and looked destined for a routine victory. However Watson became much more competitive in the second set and a result the British crowd became a major factor. Watson claimed the crucial break in the ninth game before serving out the set to a massive standing ovation from the crowd.
Watson opened up a 3-0 lead in the deciding set and a famous upset suddenly seemed possible. Serena would raise her level to produce a signature comeback, a truly memorable clash. Serena was forced to work so much harder than expected, the world number 1 ended the match with 53 winners including 13 aces and just 33 unforced errors.