Emma’s predictions were good for the men, but wasn’t enough to beat Charlie. Can Charlie continue his streak with a good showing in the women?
When it came to predicting the women, I think we all, sadly, admit that we weren’t as confident compared to the men. Through no fault of theirs, none of us watch the women play as much as we watch men. There are many reasons for this – TV coverage is a huge one, BT sport have the WTA tour whereas Sky have the ATP. Not many of our predictors sit and watch every Grand Slam match, and I would guess that the men get more screen time (probably due to their longer matches). The ATP tour finals are accessible in London, the WTA less so in Singapore.
All of which is wrong. Women’s tennis is incredibly healthy, competitive and exciting – this year has highlighted all three. If we can make a resolution for 2017, it will definitely be to take more of an interest in the WTA tour.
With that in mind, it’s time to look at how our predicting went. James couldn’t join us for this, leaving Charlie, Emma, Josh and I. As a note to the scoring system, Sharapova’s ban shocked us all and so if any of us had her in our top 10s, they wouldn’t get any points for that.
And this is how the top five looks, compared to how we thought it would:
Yeah, none of us saw that coming. Huge congratulations to the Australian and US Open champion, and Wimbledon, Tour Finals and Olympics finalist. What a year it was for the German, it was going to take something special to knock Serena off her perch, and I don’t think anyone could claim Kerber’s year was anything but remarkable.
The other new name in the top five is Cibulkova, who none of us had anywhere in our top tens. Josh watched her triumph in Eastbourne, and stated that he hopes she inspires “girls watching to realise that you don’t need to be 6’ foot plus to be very, very good at tennis.” Is her place in the top five the start of a further rise, or is this as good as it gets? She’s one to watch over the first few months of next year.
Three of our four predictors had Petra Kvitova in the top five. This certainly wasn’t a surprise, and hence the Czech’s final position of 11th shows the quality in depth on the WTA tour. Most of our top fives were solid picks, four of Emma’s finished in the top 10, with all of mine securing year-end top ten finishes.
The first thing that I notice about that bottom five is the inclusion of a British flag. What a year it’s been for Jo Konta, and that top ten finish is far from being a fluke. She quietly got on with her business while the tennis media hyped Heather Watson and Laura Robson, only to break through and miss out on the tour finals by the skin of her teeth.
Pliskova, the other Eastbourne finalist, fulfilled Emma and my shouts by breaking into the top 10, however, Belinda Bencic didn’t. Ending the year in 43rd place, Belinda had a disappointing twelve months. Madison Keys managed to get in the top 10, not as high as fifth as I said, but exactly where Emma predicted she would finish.
As for our other predictions, the less said, the better. Safarova finished the year 62nd, Ivanovic 63rd and Lisicki 92nd. Charlie’s top 10 was decent, if not outstanding, (and good on the basis that he actually had Kerber in it!) until his final three. In my new scoring system, only one of us didn’t pick up 50(+) points for a player from our bottom five.
Our lack of confidence and higher unpredictability on the WTA tour is shown in the rankings. With the men, only James ended in triple figures, yet with the women 75% of us are already over 100 points.
4. Charlie (187)
3. Josh (115)
2. Emma (107)
1. Gareth (62)
And for those who questioned my rankings last week, I believe those results are fair. Charlie and Josh got five correct top 10 picks, Emma and I six. Emma picked two players outside of the world’s top 20, I only picked one.
Now for the Grand Slams:
This is just shocking for all of us really. Emma hedged her bets by going for a Serena clean sweep, and came away with one success (which, tbh, is the least you should expect from that). Of those 16 predictions, only three actually came true. Josh and Charlie didn’t get a single pick right, with Charlie losing Wimbledon because he strayed from Serena.
The French Open final was between Muguruza and Serena, i.e. a match between our picks. Mine came out on top and was easily the best selection from that grid. Emma scored fewer points than me in this round, however, did get one less correct pick. Not a great round for Josh, but Charlie’s top ten keeps him in third place:
4. Charlie (195)
3. Josh (127)
2. Emma (111)
1. Gareth (67)
The tour finals and Olympics were unexpected. Monica Puig winning Puerto Rico’s first ever Olympic Gold was one of the stories of the whole games, and so not anything any of us, or indeed most people, saw coming. Once again, my Olympic pick was awful – and Halep, like Federer, didn’t even compete. Serena lost in the third round.
At the tour finals, Serena didn’t compete, Azarenka didn’t qualify and neither Muguruza nor Halep made it out of the round robins! Congratulations to Cibulkova, who rounded off a fantastic end to the year with a memorable victory over the World Number One.
The last section didn’t change the overall standings, it just saw Charlie break the 200 points barrier:
4. Charlie (203)
3. Josh (135)
2. Emma (118)
1. Gareth (77)
So, Charlie followed up his male victory with a resounding loss in the women, and I don’t believe you can question the final order. Emma and I were the most consistent throughout, with my picks being marginally better.
Join us again next year, when we will all try to fare just a little bit better.
I would like to thank Emma for all her hard work, slaving away while making all the tables.