Angelique Kerber is the number one player in women’s tennis and will finish 2016 as number one. It will be interesting to see if she can win the WTA Championships to cap off her great season, but she has had the best season in 2016. Here is a non-sequential look at Kerber’s 2016 season not including this week’s result:
The Australian Open (January/February), the US Open(August/September), and Stuttgart (April)
2016 Runner-Up Finishes:
Wimbledon (June/July), Rio Olympic Games (August)*, Cincinnati (August), and Brisbane (January)
2016 Semifinal Finishes:
Miami (March/April), Montreal (July), and Charleston (April)
* Tennis in the 2016 Olympic Games had no ranking points attached to them
Kerber won 2 majors, was runner-up at a 3rd major and won a silver medal in 2016. Winning 2 majors and reaching a number of other important final rounds in a season generally is enough for a player to be regarded as the clear number one in a given year. In that sense, Kerber is and should be regarded as number one. Kerber’s semifinal or better performance at the 2016 WTA Finals further cements her top showing in 2016. Kerber did not storm to the number one ranking as Steffi Graf did in 1987 posting a 75-2 record. Kerber did not replicate Monica Seles’ 1991 effort that featured 10 titles and 6 runner-up finishes in 16 events played. Kerber did not win 3 majors to ascend to number one as Serena did in 2002.
Still, Kerber’s style of play should not discount her ascent. She split her championship matches with Serena Williams at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Having a win in a major final over Serena and acquitting herself well in the Wimbledon final should be enough to validate Kerber’s qualitative results in 2016, and her quantitative results are unquestioned. Winning 2 majors, reaching a 3rd major final, and grabbing a silver medal is a sublime year even if Kerber’s method for attaining the sublime came from a style of tennis that does not typically overwhelm opponents on an individual day. In the totality of the season, Kerber overwhelmed all but one player on tour and out pointed the only other player to reach 3 major finals.