Ranking the Top 10 Women's Contenders for 2015 Wimbledon
Serena Williams remains the player to beat going into Wimbledon. But the rest of the field, like the objects in a rear-view mirror, may be closer than they appear.
Williams, ranked No. 1, opted for rest over playing in any grass-court tune-ups. She'll need it. With a calendar Grand Slam on the line and the all-time Slams record in sight, Williams carries some serious pressure into Wimbledon.
Meanwhile, a host of players looking for their first title are all too happy to assume the burden that comes with being champion. Young players such as Belinda Bencic and Karolina Pliskova have enjoyed strong grass-court seasons. Hungry veterans Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic have stepped up their games, too.
Who has the momentum? Which player is getting hot just in time? Who can take advantage of the quicker, less-forgiving grass?
Ignore the WTA Tour rankings. The following power rankings are based on this season's records, grass-court mojo and who looks strongest heading into Wimbledon.
Andrea Petkovic, Carla Suarez Navarro, Agnieszka Radwanska and Venus Williams warrant honorable mentions.
Suarez Navarro is ranked No. 9 on the WTA Tour. However, grass has not been her friend. She's never moved beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon. Last year she lost in the second round.
Although Petkovic lost to Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals in Eastbourne, the German defeated big-hitting up-and-comers Coco Vandeweghe and Caroline Garcia in straight sets.
After a disatrous start to the 2015 season, Radwanska finally seems to be getting her game together. It's just in time for Wimbledon, where she was a runner-up in 2012.
Williams hasn't played since a first-round loss to Sloane Stephens at the French Open. Still, it's grass, and that's where Williams is at her most dangerous. Any five-time Wimbledon champion named Williams is a threat on grass.
10. Ekaterina Makarova
The consistent lefty makes our top 10 because she seems to find a way to play deep into Grand Slams. Makarova has reached the quarterfinals or better in three of the last four Grand Slams.
She made it to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last year.
Her power ranking is lower than her WTA ranking because of a shaky showing in Eastbourne—Johanna Konta trounced Makarova 6-2, 6-4.
9. Ana Ivanovic
Ana Ivanovic is ranked No. 7, but comes at No. 9 here because she continues to see-saw between great and questionable play. She reached the semifinals at the French Open. Yet in her only grass-court outing, she lost to No. 119 Michelle Larcher De Brito in Birmingham.
8. Karolina Pliskova
Karolina Pliskova leads the WTA in aces this season. That's right, she tops Serena Williams. Pliskova has 320 aces. Williams has 268. (Pliskova has played in 14 more matches than Williams.)
A rocket serve is a weapon on any surface. On the grass, it's lethal. Pliskova also likes to go for her serve. That's one reason she ranks No. 7 in double faults.
One of the biggest surprises this season, Pliskova fell one win short of breaking into the WTA's Top 10. She is ranked No. 6 on the Road to Singapore. She makes No. 8 in the power ranking because she has the game and momentum to pull off some upsets in Week 2.
7. Angelique Kerber
She's No. 8 on the Road to Singapore and playing with confidence. That's why despite being ranked No. 10, she comes in at No. 7 in the power rankings.
6. Lucie Safarova
Lucie Safarova is still basking in the glow of her French Open final appearance. However, she has semifinals points to defend at Wimbledon. Last year, Safarova lost to friend and fellow Czech Petra Kvitova. She leads Kvitova and Pliskova as the top-ranked Czech in the Road to Singapore at No. 5.
5. Caroline Wozniacki
Nearly five years after she reached No. 1, Wozniacki is still looking for her first Grand Slam title. She's playing well, but is it enough to take out the likes of Serena Williams, Kvitova or even Sharapova?
Wozniacki advanced to the semifinals in Eastbourne after defeating Petkovic in straight sets.
4. Simona Halep
Ranked No. 3, Halep comes in at No. 4 in the power rankings. Still No. 2 in the Road to Singapore, Halep seems to be struggling with a bit of self-doubt. Compounding her issues, she just split with her coach, Victor Ionita, on the day the Wimbledon draw was announced.
Halep clearly has the game to go far at Wimbledon. Right now she lacks belief.
3. Maria Sharapova
Sharapova rarely lacks belief. Even when she plays Serena Williams, who has beaten her 17 consecutive times, Sharapova comes out swinging.
Fearless hitting won her the 2004 Wimbledon title. She's added a few wrinkles to her game since then. She moves better and even has an effective drop shot. It's been a while since Sharapova has made any noise at Wimbledon. Since finishing runner-up in 2011, Sharapova hasn't advanced beyond the fourth round.
2. Petra Kvitova
Kvitova's lefty serve out wide is one of the most effective weapons on grass. Last year, her epic third-round match against Venus Williams showcased two of the best grass-court players in the game. Kvitova went on to destroy Eugenie Bouchard in the final.
After taking some time off earlier this season, Kvitova is as fit as ever. She's perhaps the biggest threat to Serena Williams.
1. Serena Williams
Williams continues to talk about having no pressure going into Wimbledon. If she manages to walk onto the court, actually believing that, look out.
When Williams plays freely and with a clear mind, she's unbeatable. As usual, it's Williams versus the field. In the last three Grand Slams, the field lost. Williams knows everyone will be up for a chance to upset the queen of the court. The biggest issue for her is whether she can stay up for the challenge.