WTA TOP THREE
1. Serena Williams
As if there could be any other. By mid-week – certainly after her scratchy performance against Caroline Wozniacki in the semis – it was hard to gauge the American’s form. The US Open champion’s Asian Swing was curtailed due to illness (Wuhan) and injury (Beijing) and after a thudding loss to Simona Halep in the round robin, the top seed was in danger of exiting the WTA Finals before the semis for the first time since 2008. Rebounding with an emphatic win over Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard, Williams won a nailbiter against friend Wozniacki, where she fought back from a 1-4 deficit in the final set tiebreak. Out for revenge against Halep in the final, the World No. 1 caught fire after losing serve early and went on to win eleven of the next twelve games. For all her ups and downs in 2014, Williams was hardly in danger of losing the top spot and, with a third consecutive WTA Finals victory, puts herself at the top of the list for Player of the Year.
2. Simona Halep
Like Williams, Halep came to Singapore under an injury cloud; the Romanian withdrew from her quarterfinal in Beijing and had been in lackluster form since losing early in Flushing. Though she swept aside Bouchard to begin the week, nobody expected the No. 4 seed to trounce Williams with the loss of only two games. Given the opportunity to eliminate the American with a straight sets loss to Ivanovic, Halep played – and ultimately lost – a hard-fought match against the Serb. Though she ran out of gas against Williams in the final, the French Open finalist got her first Top 3 win and should begin next season full of confidence.
3. Caroline Wozniacki
The Dane lost a fourth straight match to Williams in Singapore, but only after the former No. 1 swept her round robin group without losing a match. Surviving an early thriller against Sharapova, Wozniacki won her next two matches – including one over Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova – in straight sets. She failed to serve Williams out in the third set, but she can be nothing but proud of her out-of-nowhere resurgence this season. The US Open runner-up has gone toe to toe with the best in the game and has six months of ranking points to make up next year, so an even bigger rise is hardly out of the question. Wozniacki has enjoyed the spotlight, so long as it’s on the whole time and, of course, not too bright.
WTA BOTTOM TWO
2. Eugenie Bouchard
Though the Canadian had the worst performance of the week, it was still an incredible year for the Wimbledon finalist, who left the WTA Finals in high spirits about her chances for next season. Hampered by a leg injury that interrupted her practice, Bouchard was erratic and out of form in three quick losses to her fellow groupmates, winning only eleven games in six sets.
1. Maria Sharapova
It was ultimately a far more disappointing week for the Russian, who had a chance to snatch the No. 1 ranking away from Williams at the beginning of the tournament. Even after losing her first two round robin matches, Sharapova still had a chance – however slight – to stay in contention with a two-set win over Agnieszka Radwanska. The French Open champion has had more than her fair share of convincing wins over the Pole, who herself had been below her best for much of the season, and seemed well in control with a set and 5-1 lead. Things would take a shocking turn as Sharapova would fail to convert multiple match point opportunities and lose the second set in a tiebreak. Though she went on to win the match, it was too little, too late for the No. 2 seed, who took solace in winning her final match of an otherwise encouraging season.
ATP TOP THREE
1. Andy Murray
The Brit has truly saved his best tennis for the eleventh hour in 2014. In danger of not qualifying for his home tournament in London, Murray has been on an absolute tear. In Valencia, he survived another five match points against rival Tommy Robredo to collect another title to win his third title in five weeks, and move up to No. 5 in the World Tour Finals race rankings in the process. From looking like it would be a disappointing season for last year’s Wimbledon winner to playing tennis worthy of two middle fingers, a fall for some has been a rise for others.
2. Roger Federer
The Swiss was emphatic in his home tournament in Basel Switzerland, capturing his sixth title against the fast-rising David Goffin in straight sets. After fending off Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals, the 33-year-old veteran survived a nearly two-hour encounter with the big serving Ivo Karlovic, ultimately prevailing 6-3 in the final set. Federer has looked revitalized during the fall swing, and should certainly be a factor during the World Tour Finals.
3. Borna Coric
Finally, attention must be paid to 17-year-old Borna Coric. The junior prodigy from Croatia began the week with a convincing win over No. 6 seed Ernests Gulbis, only to shock everyone by sealing No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal in straight sets in Basel, playing with a confidence and maturity beyond his years. For a season that has continued to affirm the presence of the old guard, the next generation is rising quickly, so fast that even Roger Federer had yet to year of last year’s junior US Open champion. Though he faltered against Goffin in the semifinals, it was a week the youngster won’t soon forget.
ATP BOTTOM TWO
2. Milos Raonic
The Canadian had looked like a lock to reach the World Tour Finals a month ago. Playing on courts that suit his booming game, Raonic has given up serious ground in the last few weeks, losing to Goffin in three sets in the quarterfinals of Basel. A berth is still mathematically possible, but will come down to the wire when it could have been a victory lap after the Canadian’s stellar season.
1. Tomas Berdych
In the same boat as Raonic, Berdych continues to procrastinate. An early loss in Basel means the prodigal Czech has yet to clinch a spot in the World Tour Finals. Though he is mathematically more in it than others – he could still lose his opening round in Paris and qualify with some help – a player of Berdych’s caliber should not be relying on the results of a David Ferrer to get him to London. Taking a wildcard into Valencia, he was abysmal in his loss to Pablo Andujar, winning only five games. It’s hard to see him challenging the best, even if/when he does qualify for the World Tour Finals