Article - Which Young WTA Players Can Make It? - Part One


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In the third part of my article series about young players with potential, I start looking at the WTA players which may have the potential to be future stars, and those who may be slightly over-rated and we can look to oppose in the future.

As with the ATP analysis, I’m looking at the service hold and break percentages for players under the age of 23.  Whilst I focused on ATP players outside the top 50, with there being 10 women under 23 in the top 50, I need to look at that ranking bracket as well.

It was very difficult to have the consistency of the ATP sample with WTA players.  That’s because I cannot access ITF statistics for service hold and break percentages, and also because many WTA players have very limited main tour experience, and the top young players haven’t played qualifiers.  So it’s a bit of a mixed sample – not ideal but we should still be able to draw some interesting conclusions.  As with the ATP sample , to get a decent sample size I will use ‘all surface’ stats as opposed to specific surface stats.

STATISTICS:-

Stats are correct at 2nd August, 2013.

Sloane Stephens, age 20, rank 15, 63% WTA wins (31-18), holds 66.2%, breaks 38.2%, combined 104.4%

Simona Halep, age 21, rank 23. 62% WTA wins (32-20), holds 65.9%, breaks 45.8%, combined 111.7%

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova age 22, rank 25 60% WTA wins (28-19), holds 66.0%, breaks 35.3%, combined 101.3%

Laura Robson, age 19, rank 32.  50% WTA wins (23-23), holds 67.4%, breaks 35.0%, combined 102.4%

Kristina Mladenovic, age 20, rank 38 60% WTA wins (27-18), holds 70.4%, breaks 35.7%, combined 106.1%

Urszula Radwanska, age 22, rank 39 55% WTA wins (30-25), holds 56.7%, breaks 42.2%, combined 98.9%

Madison Keys, age 18, rank 40 56% WTA wins (18-14), holds 73.2%, breaks 32.8%, combined 106.0%

Annika Beck, age 19, rank 47 49% WTA wins (17-18), holds 55.1%, breaks 45.2%, combined 100.3%

Elina Svitolina, age 18, rank 49 56% WTA wins (18-14), holds 62.5%, breaks 40.6%, combined 103.1%

Bojana Jovanovski, age 21, rank 50 54% WTA wins (25-21), holds 63.5%, breaks 36.7%, combined 100.2%

Monica Puig, age 19, rank 51 50% WTA wins (9-9), holds 70.2%, breaks 30.3%, combined 100.5%

Eugenie Bouchard, age 19, rank 58 55% WTA wins (17-14), holds 66.0%, breaks 36.7%, combined 102.7%

Donna Vekic, age 17, rank 62 62% WTA wins (16-10), holds 69.9%, breaks 39.1%, combined 109.0%

Garbine Muguruza, age 19, rank 63 48% WTA wins (14-15), holds 64.5%, breaks 32.5%, combined 97.0%

Kiki Bertens, age 21, rank 68 43% WTA wins (18-24), holds 58.5%, breaks 36.7%, combined 95.2%

Karolina Pliskova, age 21, rank 73 43% WTA wins (9-12), holds 71.6%, breaks 25.2%, combined 96.8%

Irina Begu, age 22, rank 75 52% WTA wins (16-15), holds 63.0%, breaks 36.2%, combined 99.2%

Heather Watson, age 21, rank 76 47% WTA wins (14-16), holds 66.1%, breaks 30.4%, combined 96.5%

Jana Cepelova, age 20, rank 77 42% WTA wins (10-14), holds 55.9%, breaks 35.0%, combined 90.9%

Paula Ormaechea, age 20, rank 79 79% WTA wins (11-3), holds 65.8%, breaks 43.2%, combined 109.0%

Mallory Burdette, age 22, rank 80 42% WTA wins (8-11), holds 57.9%, breaks 35.8%, combined 93.7%

Caroline Garcia, age 19, rank 83 36% WTA wins (8-14), holds 67.4%, breaks 24.1%, combined 91.3%

Lauren Davis, age 19, rank 84 45% WTA wins (10-12), holds 58.4%, breaks 34.4%, combined 92.8%

Lara Arruabarena, age 21, rank 90 52% WTA wins (13-12), holds 57.6%, breaks 37.9%, combined 95.5%

Yulia Putintseva, age 18, rank 92 29% WTA wins (5-12), holds 61.2%, breaks 30.6%, combined 91.8%

Christina McHale, age 21, rank 93 31% WTA wins (10-22), holds 60.9%, breaks 32.0%, combined 92.9%

Petra Martic, age 22, rank 95 44% WTA wins (11-14), holds 66.4%, breaks 29.4%, combined 95.8%

Polona Hercog, age 22, rank 98 40% WTA wins (6-9), holds 63.7%, breaks 29.1%, combined 92.8%

Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, age 21, rank 102 37% WTA wins (10-17), holds 54.9%, breaks 38.2%, combined 93.1%

Timea Babos, age 19, rank 103 33% WTA wins (9-18), holds 60.8%, breaks 27.2%, combined 88.0%

Tamira Paszek, age 22, rank 104 24% WTA wins (8-25), holds 53.2%, breaks 30.7%, combined 83.9%

Anna Schmiedlova, age 18, rank 105 33% WTA wins (2-4), holds 58.6%, breaks 25.0%, combined 83.6% 70% Qualifier wins (7-3), holds 66.0%, breaks 43.6%, combined 109.6%

Misaki Doi, age 22, rank 106 46% WTA wins (12-14), holds 65.9%, breaks 34.5%, combined 100.4%

Dinah Pfizenmaier, age 21, rank 108 36% WTA wins (4-7), holds 64.9%, breaks 37.5%, combined 102.4%

Kurumi Nara, age 21, rank 110 33% WTA wins (3-6), holds 57.6%, breaks 31.6%, combined 89.2%

Michelle Larcher De Brito, age 20, rank 111 27% WTA wins (3-8), holds 57.0%, breaks 29.6%, combined 86.6%

Tadeja Majeric, age 22, rank 115 33% WTA wins (2-4), holds 46.4%, breaks 33.3%, combined 79.7%, 57% Qualifier wins (4-3), holds 66.7%, breaks 44.9%, combined 111.6%

Maryna Zanevska, age 19, rank 116 50% Qualifier wins (5-5), holds 60.3%, breaks 40.9%, combined 101.2%

Sharon Fichman, age 22, rank 119 53% Qualifier wins (9-8), holds 57.8%, breaks 39.5%, combined 97.3%

Luksika Kumkhum, age 20, rank 122 46% WTA wins (6-7), holds 65.3%, breaks 32.2%, combined 97.5%

Camila Giorgi, age 21, rank 124 29% WTA wins (6-15), holds 55.2%, breaks 31.0%, combined 86.2%

Nadiya Kichenok, age 21, rank 125 58% Qualifier wins (7-5), holds 68.6%, breaks 42.4%, combined 111.0%

Kai-Chen Chang, age 22, rank 129 63% WTA wins (12-7), holds 71.5%, breaks 30.7%, combined 102.2%

Kristyna Pliskova, age 21, rank 130 29% WTA wins (4-10), holds 70.5%, breaks 20.3%, combined 90.8%

Alja Tomljanovic, age 20, rank 132 44% WTA wins (4-5), holds 64.0%, breaks 33.0%, combined 97.0%

Shelby Rogers, age 20, rank 133 46% Qualifier wins (6-7), holds 75.6%, breaks 28.1%, combined 103.7%

Yi-Maio Zhou, age 22, rank 134 57% WTA wins (4-3), holds 57.3%, breaks 48.6%, combined 105.9%, 60% Qualifier wins (6-4), holds 53.4% holds, 49.1% breaks, combined 102.5%

Maria Joao Koehler, age 20, rank 139 10% WTA wins (1-9), holds 43.4%, breaks 27.7%, combined 71.1%

Melanie Oudin, age 21, rank 141 22% WTA wins (4-14), holds 51.7%, breaks 31.8%, combined 83.5%

Ksenia Pervak, age 22, rank 142 39% WTA wins (7-11), holds 55.8%, breaks 34.5%, combined 90.3%

Jessica Pegula, age 19, rank 143 29% WTA wins (2-5), holds 55.0%, breaks 33.7%, combined 88.7%, 67% Qualifier wins (10-5), holds 63.3%, 46.6% breaks, combined 109.9%

Johanna Konta, age 22, rank 147 59% Qualifier wins (10-7), holds 59.0%, breaks 39.1%, combined 98.1%

Daria Gavrilova, age 19, rank 148 48% Qualifier wins (12-13), holds 60.0%, breaks 37.7%, combined 97.7%

Olivia Rogowska, age 22, rank 151 44% Qualifier wins (4-5), holds 62.4%, breaks 34.0%, combined 96.4%

Grace Min, age 19, rank 153 11% WTA wins (1-8), holds 52.2%, breaks 27.2%, combined 79.4% 86% Qualifer wins (18-3), holds 68.3%, breaks 48.4%, combined 116.7%

An Sophie Mestach, age 19, rank 157 no realistic stats

Magda Linette, age 21, rank 159 67% WTA wins (4-2), holds 57.4%, breaks 37.5%, combined 94.9%, 64% Qualifier wins (7-4), holds 62.6%, breaks 45.2%, combined 107.8%

Qiang Wang, age 21, rank 161 17% WTA wins (1-5), holds 55.6%, breaks 20.3%, combined 75.9%, 58% Qualifier wins (7-5), holds 67.5%, breaks 38.4%, combined 105.9%

Chanel Simmonds, age 21, rank 164 54% Qualifier wins (7-6), holds 60.9%, breaks 41.7%, combined 102.6%

Nicole Gibbs, age 20, rank 166 67% Qualifier wins (6-3), holds 64.3%, 53.2%, combined 117.5%

Ashleigh Barty, age 17, rank 168 43% WTA wins (3-4), holds 60.0%, breaks 24.3%, combined 84.3%

Valeria Savinykh, age 22, rank 170 45% Qualifier wins (9-11), holds 61.8%, breaks 38.8%, combined 100.6%

Alexsandra Krunic, age 20, rank 172 46% Qualifier wins (6-7), holds 64.7%, breaks 32.9%, combined 97.6%

Alison Van Uytvanck, age 19, rank 173 no realistic stats

Danka Kovinic, age 18, rank 174 no realistic stats

Jovana Jaksic, age 19, rank 175 no realistic stats

Top combined WTA main tour stats, regardless of age:-

Simona Halep, 111.7%

Donna Vekic, 109.0%

Paula Ormaechea (smaller sample), 109.0%

Kristina Mladenovic, 106.1%

Madison Keys, 106.0%

Sloane Stephens, 104.4%

Elina Svitolina, 103.1%

Eugenie Bouchard, 102.7%

Laura Robson, 102.4%

Dinah Pfizenmaier, 102.4%

Kai-Chen Chang, 102.2%

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 101.3%

Monica Puig, 100.5%

Misaki Doi, 100.4%

Annika Beck, 100.3%

Bojana Jovanovski, 100.2%

Top combined Qualifier stats, regardless of age:-

Nicole Gibbs 117.5%

Grace Min 116.7%

Tadeja Majeric 111.6%

Nadiya Kichenok 111.0%

Jessica Pegula 109.9%

Anna Schmiedlova 109.6%

Magda Linette 107.8%

Qiang Wang 105.9%

Shelby Rogers 103.7%

Chanel Simmonds 102.6%

Yi-Maou Zhou 102.5%

Maryna Zanevska 101.2%

Valeria Savinykh 101.6%

Combined stats for 17-19 year olds, using a qualifier adjustment where necessary:-

Donna Vekic 109.0%

Madison Keys 106.0%

Elina Svitolina 103.1%

Eugenie Bouchard 102.7%

Laura Robson 102.4%

Monica Puig 100.5%

Annika Beck 100.3%

Jessica Pegula 97.8%

Anna Schmiedlova 97.5%

Garbine Muguruza 97.0%

Lauren Davis 92.8%

Yulia Putintseva 91.8%

Caroline Garcia 91.3%

Maryna Zanevska 90.1%

ANALYSIS:-

With there being two different variables (WTA tour stats and qualifier stats) necessary to obtain better samples and more information, it’s very difficult to make any hugely confident judgements on WTA players.  I also feel that tournaments range so much in quality that some players (such as Pavlyuchenkova, Muguruza and the US based players) may be a little harshly treated by the sample as they will probably have entered higher quality events with more difficult opponents.

It’s apparent that women players make a much earlier breakthrough than their male counterparts.  At the time of sample there are 10 women aged 22 or under in the top 50 (20%) compared to just 4 in the ATP (8%).  There’s a total of 28 in the top 100, compared to the men’s 10.  However, there are definite similarities for WTA players to ATP players in that a big battle for them is to improve their ranking enough to compete at the higher echelon events, to gain more ranking points further and move up the rankings.

We saw with ATP players that it’s not a given that a good Challenger record means that the player will transfer that form to the ATP tour and it’s clear that there are some players where that’s also the case in the women’s game (from qualifiers to main draw events).

Grace Min has a terrible WTA 1-8 record in the last 12 months but a truly remarkable qualifying record (18-3) which severely contrasts her potential.  In the next part of the article I will discuss what that qualifier record suggests but here we can see that currently she is failing to adapt to the main tour in a big way.  Maria Joao Koehler, Jessica Pegula and Michelle Larcher De Brito are other examples of this currently.

What we can see is the huge potential displayed by 17 year old Donna Vekic.  She is around 5 years younger than many in this sample but came second on the combined list, regardless of age, just below Simona Halep.  Madison Keys, Elina Svitolina and Laura Robson also have good stats for teenagers, and are rightly viewed as players with high potential.  Jessica Pegula, Anna Schmiedlova and Min have great potential with good qualifier stats in their teenage years.

One thing I’ve noticed in the markets is that young players often get priced more on potential than their actual ability.  So an interesting exercise here is to see which players have combined stats a lot worse than their ranking, as these should be those over-rated by the market.

I personally believed Sloane Stephens to be over-rated and inconsistent currently but it’s interesting to see that she was only ranked 6th for combined stats but is the highest ranked in the sample.  That would indicate my current opinion is correct, although at 20 she has plenty of time on her side.

I feel I cannot read quite as much into Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova’s stats as she often plays top opponents (more often than Stephens in my opinion) but it would appear that at 22 she will struggle to get much higher than top 20.

Looking at Urszula Radwanska stats it’s unlikely she will ever come close to her sister’s level.  Her clay stats aren’t good enough yet and pull her overall average down.  She does seem to be able to compete at a decent level on hard courts though which will give her opportunities to maintain or slightly improve her ranking.

The likes of Kiki Bertens, Karolina Pliskova, Irina Begu, Heather Watson, Mallory Burdette, Christina McHale, Petra Martic, Polona Hercog, Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor and Tamira Paszek are unlikely to be able to climb the rankings much higher than top 40 based on their current stats and also their age (either 21 or 22).  Perhaps that’s being a little harsh on Watson and McHale who have had to deal with illness, and several others have had injuries to deal with, but with combined serve/break stats at around 95.0% or below at an age where they should have done a lot of development, it’s tough to make a statistical case for dramatic improvement.

In the next part of the article, I look at some of the players leading the stats and see what sort of level they can achieve in several years time.  That will be added to the website in the near future!

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