Tennis: 5 women players to look out for in 2022

18 November 2021 19:31:50 GMTPlus11
Tunisia's late-bloomer Ons Jabeur coud be underestimated in 2022

There has been plenty of change at the top of the women's game over the last few seasons and there are a number of up and coming talents who will be hoping to cause a stir in 2022.

With 23-time Grand Slam heroine Serena Williams in the twilight of her career, there is room for a new superstar to dominate the WTA Tour.

Naomi Osaka and Ashleigh Barty are the only two women to have won two Grand Slam events across the past three campaigns, and all four majors in 2021 were lifted by someone different.

Since 2019, Bianca Andreescu, Sofia Kenin, Iga Swiatek, Barbora Krejcikova and Emma Raducanu have claimed a maiden Grand Slam crown, which should motivate many more to follow suit.

We have pinpointed five female players to keep on your side in 2022, with rising British star Raducanu the perfect starting point.

Rising star Raducanu has a bright future

Raducanu ended Britain's 44-year wait for a women’s Grand Slam singles title when she overcame fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez to land a breakthrough success at the US Open in September.

The 18-year-old was appearing in just her second Grand Slam competition, having previously made the fourth round at Wimbledon, when she was forced to retire a set and a break down against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic.

However, the Londoner franked that promise in no uncertain terms when bulldozing her way through a strong field at Flushing Meadows.

Raducanu, who was a qualifier, won all ten of her New York assignments in straight sets to rise from 150th to 23rd in the world rankings and replace Johanna Konta as the British number one.

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Her long list of victims included Sara Sorribes Tormo, Shelby Rogers, Belinda Bencic, Maria Sakkari and Fernandez and all that was achieved without the help of an experienced WTA Tour coach.

Since that States success, the teenager has struggled to replicate those high-quality performances and has suffered early exits at Indian Wells, the Transylvania Open and the Linz Open.

However, it was bound to take some time for Raducanu to come to terms with her achievements and she has since linked-up with a new coach in Torben Beltz, who was Angelique Kerber's mentor when she won the Australian Open and US Open titles in 2016.

The Canadian-born youngster has to prove she can back up that landmark success but her natural ability cannot be questioned and with patience and tender handling she can only improve.

Raducanu can be backed at 6/1 to defend her US Open crown while she is 7/1 to win Wimbledon and 25/1 to make her mark at the Australian Open.

The current world number 20, renowned for her powerful, flat groundstrokes, is also 10/1 for French Open glory, although she has more to prove on that slower surface.

Fernandez can show US Open heroics were no fluke

Fernandez played second fiddle to Raducanu at the US Open in September but she also came out of that tournament with great credit.

It was also a career-best effort from the Canadian, who had never gone beyond the third round of a Grand Slam in her six previous attempts.

There appeared to be no fluke whatsoever about her run to the New York title decider as she stunned four seeded players - Osaka, Kerber, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabelenka - before bumping into the Brit.

Fernandez's only appearance since saw her reach the last 16 at Indian Wells but she did claim silverware at Mexico's Monterrey Open in March, so there should be plenty more to come from her.

Now the world number 24, the talented teen could profit from easier draws and she is 18/1 to go one better at Flushing Meadows.

Fernandez is also a former French Open girls' singles winner, so couldn’t be discounted at 25/1 to win the Paris Major this year.

Gauff should soon live up to her promise

Cori Gauff is a player of immense talent and it is hard to believe the American is still only 17 years of age.

Despite her tender years, Gauff is already a two-time winner on the WTA Tour and she also got her first taste of a Grand Slam quarter-final at the French Open earlier this year.

The Georgian girl burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old when making the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2019 and although her rise to the top may have taken longer than anticipated, there is no need to give up on her just yet.

A fast mover with excellent shot-making ability, the American is a star of the future and 2022 could be when she lives up to her initial promise.

Gauff looks made for the turf of Wimbledon and is 20/1 for victory at SW19 next year, while she is 16/1 to reward her home faithful by winning at the US Open in 2022.

Jabeur edging ever closer to landmark success

The 27-year-old Ons Jabeur is very much a late bloomer, but on a few occasions this year she has hinted that a big win could be just around the corner.

The Tunisian ace became the first Arab woman to make it to a Grand Slam singles quarter-final when overcoming China's Wang Qiang at the Australian Open in January.

Jabeur claimed her maiden title in Birmingham, while also finishing runner-up in Charleston and Chicago, and only narrowly missed out on a place at the WTA Finals.

Now at a career-high ranking of seven, Jabeur could prosper and despite her lofty ranking she still looks to be underestimated for the showpiece events.

She is 40/1 to win the first Grand Slam of the 2022 campaign at the Australian Open and is 33/1 for French Open glory.

Jabeur's two previous appearances at Wimbledon have seen her make the fourth round and, having won her sole title on the grass of Birmingham, could be considered at 40/1 at the All England Club.

Danish youngster Tauson may be underestimated

One player that could go under the radar in 2022 is highly-touted Dane Clara Tauson, who has made four finals this year and lifted two titles.

The 18-year-old looks to have a seriously bright future, particularly on a hard court following wins against good opposition at the Lyon Open and in Luxembourg.

Tauson, who also beat Raducanu to claim a WTA 125 title in Chicago in August, has broken into the top 50 on the WTA rankings and should continue to go from strength to strength.

The Australian Open may be the location where she does most damage and she is 66/1 for victory in Melbourne.

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