The 2022 WTA season is coming to an end. It has been marked by the retirement of two astonishing players, Serena Williams and Ash Barty, as well as Iga Swiatek’s dominance on tour. Using our Skill Ratings, let’s highlight some of this year’s top stories and players. To remind yourself about how our Skill ratings are calculated, check out our explainer piece.
Singles Skill Ratings
Who were the singles players with the best Skill rating on each surface at the end of this season?
- Overall: Iga Swiatek
- Hard: Iga Swiatek
- Clay: Iga Swiatek
- Grass: Ons Jabeur
Iga Swiatek had one of the strongest seasons in tennis history, winning 67 matches and eight tournaments – including two Grand Slams. Her results rank her as best player in our overall Skill ratings as well as on both hard and clay courts. The only surface Swiatek didn’t rank top in was grass, in which Ons Jabeur had a solid season. She won a WTA 500 event in Berlin and lost in the final of Wimbledon, making her the No. 1 player on grass in 2022.
The following table shows the current 10 best singles players across all surfaces:
One of the Most Dominants Seasons in Tennis History
Let’s take a look at how Swiatek climbed up the rankings since the beginning of the season. The following graph shows Swiatek’s weekly Skill rating position – calculated using a rolling window of the player’s performance over the past 52 weeks. For instance, the rating for week one of 2022 is calculated using all the matches played since week one of 2021.
Iga started the year 10th in the overall Skill ratings and among the top 15 players on both clay and hard court. Her hard court and overall position climbed after reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open and winning in Qatar. On clay court, Swiatek’s 2022 position was slower to increase. It wasn’t until her April win in Stuttgart that her ranking began to improve but this was followed by a sharp decline the following week after not playing the Madrid Open. She played in that tournament last year which explains why her Skill rating dropped that week.
However, Swiatek then went on to win in Rome for a second consecutive year, followed by her second Roland Garros title. Since then, she has not left the number one position in our overall, hard and clay Skill ratings.
No. 1 Players in 2022
Throughout this season, there have only been two players at the top of the overall Skill ratings: Ashleigh Barty and Swiatek. The following graph shows Barty’s and Swiatek’s Skill rating in 2022. As reference points, we added the player ranked No. 2, No. 10 and No. 50 in our Skill rating throughout the year.
Up until her retirement in March, Barty was the highest-rated player. She retired on high note, going undefeated in 2022, with 11 match wins and two tournament titles in her home country – one of them being the Australian Open. Her Skill rating exceeded the rest of the field by far at this point. Swiatek’s improvement in Skill rating early in the season is also notable, going from No. 10 to No. 2 in just two months.
After Barty’s retirement, Swiatek took over as the highest-rated player. She reached a higher rating than Barty’s in weeks 21-26 after a 37-match win streak, the longest of the 21st century. She couldn’t quite maintain that blistering start over the summer grass court season and her rating dropped slightly but a strong end to the season – including a Grand Slam win at the US Open – saw her recover. There is no disputing her place at the top of our Skill ratings.
The Most and Least Improved Players of 2022
2022 has been full of ups and downs for many players, and to look at the most and least improved players this year, we simply took the difference between the latest Skill ratings (week 45) vs. those on the first week of the season.
Garbiñe Muguruza has had the largest drop in rating, outside of injured or pregnant players this season. The Spaniard started as the fourth highest-rated player in January after ending her 2021 season with a win at the WTA Finals, yet ended outside the top 100 in our Skill ratings.
On the other hand, Caroline Garcia is the 10th most-improved singles player overall and the top most-improved when only considering players that started the season inside the top 100 Skill ratings. Her stellar year took off this summer after her title win in Bad Homburg. Ending the season with four titles – including the biggest one of her career: the WTA finals – Garcia is now the third-best rated player in our Skill ratings.
The graph above compares Garcia’s and Muguruza’s Skill rating throughout the season, with the 10th-best Skill rating as a reference. As we can see, Muguruza’s decline was relatively constant throughout 2022 while Garcia’s improvement mostly occurred towards the second half of the season. Muguruza dropped outside the top 10 best-rated players in early February while Garcia joined the top 10 club in August.
2023 will be an important season for both players. Garcia will look to build on her momentum, with a Grand Slam undoubtedly in sight. Meanwhile, Muguruza will be searching for the form that made her a two-time Grand Slam champion.
Doubles Skill Ratings
Who were the doubles players with the best Skill rating on each surface at the end of this season?
- Overall: Barbora Krejcikova/Katerina Siniakova
- Hard: Barbora Krejcikova /Katerina Siniaková
- Clay: Caroline Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic
- Grass: Lyudmyla Kichenok/Jelena Ostapenko
Krejcikova and Siniakova won three Grand Slams this season, two of them on hard court, making them the year-end number-one ranked doubles team both overall and on hard court. The French pair of Garcia and Mladenovic won their home Grand Slam, Roland Garros, helping them top the ratings on clay. And finally, Kichenok and Ostapenko’s solid grass court season in doubles saw them win the title in Birmingham, reach the final in Eastbourne and reach the semi-finals of Wimbledon. That sees them rank as the top pair on grass.
The following table shows the current 10 best doubles teams across all surfaces:
The Skill ratings allow us to analyse how the nationalities of the top players compare in the rankings too. The United States ended the 2022 WTA season with the highest number of players inside the top 100 singles Skill ratings (14), followed by the Czech Republic (10) and Russia (7). Similarly, 11 all-American teams are among the top 100 doubles ratings.
The highest-ranked American singles players and doubles teams can be seen below, ordered by their Skill and Potential ratings.
Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff are the Americans that have dominated in both singles and doubles this season and are ranked inside the top 10 in the Skill ratings.
Danielle Collins had an outstanding beginning of the season, getting to the final of the Australian Open, but an average rest of the season might explain why her Skill rating is the fifth-best while her potential is the fourth-best among the Americans.
Catherine McNally also stands out. Alongside being the sixth-best American in singles, she is also a part of three out of the 11 best American doubles teams, with partners Townsend, Parks and Gauff. Her and Parks have the second-highest potential in doubles, after recently winning the title in Ostrava in their first tournament together.
Young Players to Watch out for in 2023
You may have heard of young tennis players such as Swiatek, Gauff, and Amanda Anisimova who are already at the top, but what about the other young players climbing up the rankings?
Here are the 10 players aged 21 or under that have seen the greatest improvement in their Skill rating over the past year:
Among these young players, three have broken into the top 100 Skill ratings: Elisabetta Cocciaretto (No. 44), Linda Fruhvirtova (No. 68) and Linda Nosková (No. 73). In addition, both Cocciaretto and Fruhvirtova won their first WTA title this year. Be sure to keep an eye on these rising stars in the upcoming season.
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