The WTA season, much like the ATP Tour, gets an early January start every year. The winter break between the back end of the previous season and the new one, isn’t all that long for players, who mostly take a short break and then get back into conditioning ahead of the new season. The tennis season set up simply demands that players come flying out of the blocks in early January because the first major of the season, the Australian Open is an annual January event so players have little time to get back to competitive action before taking on the gruelling two weeks of one of the four Grand Slams.
The Grand Slams are just the tip of a very big iceberg in terms of tennis tournaments that are played across the year on the WTA. You also have the highly ranked Premier Tier events as well as the rest of the regular season events and the International level tournaments as well. Naturally because of the higher ranking points on offer at the higher tiered events, most of the big stars of the women’s game gravitate towards the bigger tournaments. They don’t have to work so hard for ranking points as lower ranked players. But unlike the ATP, you will generally find that top players do spread themselves out across the lower tiered tournaments as well across the season.
It’s not too unusual to see players taking on an International level tournament for either prestige, practice or prize money. Whatever the motivation, there is usually at least a couple of tournament running each and every week throughout the calendar year, unless of course it is a Premier Tier or Grand Slam event in progress. The Season starts early in January and runs through to the end of October each year. Then it’s a short winter break to start all over again in the battle for titles and points ranking in a season which makes a swing right around the world on most continents.
As well as trying to hold the honour of being a top ten player in the world, there is also the annual Road To Singapore points chase going on. Players get awarded points from tournaments and the top eight at the end of the season make it through to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals in Singapore where there is a mammoth prize fund on offer to round off the season with for the elite players. The WTA Elite Trophy is always the final event of the year and that is a tournament for tournament winners from across the season (those who didn’t qualify for the WTA Finals).
WTA Tour Calendar 2016
|10.01.-15.01.||Apia International Sydney||Sydney|
|18.01.-31.01.||Grand Slam – Australian Open||Melbourne|
|08.02.-14.02.||St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy||St. Petersburg|
|15.02.-20.02.||Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships||Dubai|
|15.02.-21.02.||Rio Open||Rio de Janeiro|
|21.02.-27.02.||Qatar Total Open||Doha|
|22.02.-27.02.||Abierto Mexicano Telcel||Acapulco|
|29.02.-06.03.||Abierto Monterrey Afirme||Monterrey|
|29.02.-06.03.||BMW Malaysian Open||Kuala Lumpur|
|09.03.-20.03.||BNP Paribas Open||Indian Wells|
|14.03.-19.03.||San Antonio 125K Series||San Antonio|
|04.04.-10.04.||Volvo Cars Open||Charleston|
|11.04.-17.04.||Claro Open Colsanitas||Bogotá|
|18.04.-24.04.||Porsche Tennis Grand Prix||Stuttgart|
|18.04.-24.04.||TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup||Istanbul|
|25.04.-30.04.||J&T Banka Prague Open||Prague|
|25.04.-30.04.||GP SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem||Rabat|
|30.04.-07.05.||Mutua Madrid Open||Madrid|
|09.05.-15.05.||Empire State Open||West Hempstead|
|15.05.-21.05.||Internationaux de Strasbourg||Strasbourg|
|22.05.-05.06.||Grandslam – Roland Garros||Paris|
|06.06.-12.06.||Aegon Open Notthingham||Nottingham|
|13.06.-19.06.||Aegon Classic Birmingham||Birmingham|
|19.06.-25.06.||Aegon International Eastbourne||Eastbourne|
|27.06.-10.07.||Grandslam – Wimbledon||London|
|11.07.-17.07.||Nürnberger Gastein Ladies||Bad Gastein|
|18.07.-24.07.||Bank of the West Classic||Stanford|
|18.07.-24.07.||Citi Open||Washington D.C.|
|18.07.-24.07.||Collector Swedish Open||Bastad|
|01.08.-07.08.||Brasil Tennis Cup||Florianopolis|
|15.08.-21.08.||Western & Southern Open||Cincinnati|
|22.08.-27.08.||Louisville International Open||Louisville|
|22.08.-27.08.||Connecticut Open||New Haven|
|29.08.-11.09.||Grandslam – US Open||New York|
|12.09.-18.09.||Coupe Banque Nationale||Quebec|
|19.09.-25.09.||Toray Pan Pacific Open||Tokyo|
|26.09.-02.10.||Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open||Wuhan|
|10.10.-16.10.||Generali Ladies Linz||Linz|
|10.10.-16.10.||Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open||Hong Kong|
|17.10.-23.10.||BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open||Luxembourg|
|24.10.-30.10.||BNP Paribas WTA Finals||Singapore|
|31.10.-06.11.||WTA Elite Trophy||Zhuhai|
These are the titles that everyone wants. This is the elite level of the game and because of the tough, big field that a player has to come through over the two weeks, it’s the ultimate tennis test of endurance, determination and skill. You tend to see the same old faces at the business end of WTA Grand Slams and one of the most familiar faces is that of Serena Williams. The American keeps on going strongly and she started the 2016 season just three title short of the current record for the most Grand Slam tournament singles title, held by Margaret Court. Williams, who won three of the four 2015 Grand Slam titles, started the year with 21, just one behind German legend Steffi Graf’s 22 and closing in on Court’s record of 24.
By and large though the women’s game is far more open (if you take Williams out of the picture) than the men’s. Over on the ATP you are looking at one of five players who can realistically win a Grand Slam but the playing field is pretty even in the women’s game, again without the presence of Williams. Maria Sharapova has claimed all four Grand Slam titles in her career but it took her almost ten year to accomplish that, completing the career slam with a French Open title in 2012.
It’s that tough to win Grand Slam but popular (and in some case surprise) winners like Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na, Petra Kvitova and even 2015 US Open winner Flavia Pennetta have shown that wins can pop up from anywhere on the women’s side of the Grand Slam. Whenever Serena Williams falls from a Grand Slam, the field gets blown wide, wide open and that’s not even mentioning new players coming through like Simona Halep and Belinda Bencic who could well be Grand Slam champions down the line.
2016 Grand Slam Start Dates
Australian Open – January 18th
French Open – May 22nd
Wimbledon – June 27th
US Open – August 29th
WTA Premier Events
Since 2009 the Women’s Tour has a range of Premier Tournaments of varying degrees of stature. There are the big four Premier Mandatory Events which are Indian Wells, Madrid, Miami and Beijing. There are 1000 ranking points going to the winner of one of those. They are kind of like mini-Grand Slams. There are also five Premier 5 events on the season which offers a 900 points ranking haul for the winner (Dubai, Rome, Cincinnati, Toronto/Montreal, and Wuhan) while there are twelve Premier events across the season which offers 470 total ranking points to the winner. Just to put all that into context, a player who wins a Grand Slam will pocket 2,000 rankings points for their effort.
Of all active players, Serena Williams holds the record for the most WTA Premier titles won by a single player. Going into the 2016 season, Williams had claimed 23 WTA Premier titles, six of those being Premier Mandatory events (the tally also includes end of season Championships titles of which Williams has four). Petra Kvitova, Martia Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki were holding joint second players in the list of all time WTA Premier League titles, with twelve each almost half as few as Williams has won during her career. As with the WTA Grand Slam tennis betting you are only going to see Serena Williams at the head of the market, but the Premier Mandatory events in particular follow a much similar betting pattern where you will see a handful of the same players occupying the places at the head of the market like Williams, Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova and Garbine Muguruza. Always pay attention to surfaces because some players perform better and raise their games on certain surfaces as opposed to others.
2016 Premier Mandatory Start Dates
Indian Wells – March 7th
Miami Open – March 21st
Mutua Madrid Open – May 2nd
China Open – October 3rd
While Andy Murray pretty much takes up all interest on the British tennis scene, there of course are home-grown talents knocking around the WTA. The top promising players out of Britain for some time have been Heather Watson and Laura Robson, but both have failed to really set the game alight and live up to their respective potentials, largely it would seem, because of injury and illness issues that seem to crop up time and time again for the youngsters.
Last season Johanna Konta stole much of the limelight of British interest. Konata’s run to the last sixteen at the 2015 US Open was a delight, the Brit beating out the likes of Garbine Muguruza, Andrea Petkovic in the main draw after having started her campaign way back in the qualifying round of 128. She lost her seventh game at the tournament, her round of sixteen battle with Petra Kvitova. But then Konta went on a tear, reaching the quarterfinals of Wuhan as well where she beat Victoria Azarenka and Simona Help before losing out to Venus Williams.
Konta started 2016 as the highest ranked British women on the WTA, inside the top fifty, followed by Watson. The next British talent which is likely to be making waves sooner or later is Naomi Broady and she started the season outside of the top 100, while because of all her time away from the game and upsets, Laura Robertson is down around the 500 ranking. You’ll find all the British players putting in most of their time at the International Tier tournaments.
Fed Cup (Federation Cup)
As well as the individual tournaments, there is some international action to come in 2016 with the Fed Cup. At the close of the 2015 season, Great Britain were ranked 23rd in the ITF Rankings, third from bottom with only Thailand and Croatia lower than then. Great Britain are in the Europe/Africa Zone for the regional competition and they take on Georgia and South Africa, in Pool B. The winner of the four pools then go to a play off to see which two then go through to the World Group II Play Offs. Basically Great Britain are a long way off competing in the Fed Cup World Group and are just trying to muscle their way into World Group II for a shot and then making a run at the World Group, the elite portion of the Fed Cup.
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