WTA’s Generation Next getting left in the dust by their older counterparts

Only three of the 11 winners so far this season have been younger than 25, writes Ahmed Rizvi

Simona Halep of Romania kisses her trophy after beating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on February 21, 2015. Karim Sahib / AFP
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It has been an interesting two months on the WTA Tour so far this year. There have been 11 different singles champions at the 12 tournaments, with Simona Halep emerging as the only repeat winner.

Venus Williams, 34, is the oldest of the winners (at Auckland), and there have been two other champions over 30 – Serena Williams (Australian Open) and Daniela Hantuchova (Bali).

Five others: Maria Sharapova (Brisbane), Andrea Petkovic (Antwerp), Sara Errani (Rio de Janeiro), Lucie Safarova (Doha) and Timea Bacsinszky (Acapulco) are between 25 and 30 years old. The youngest winner has been Heather Watson (Hobart), 22. Petra Kvitova (Sydney) and Halep (Shenzen and Dubai) are the only other champions under 25.

What has happened to the WTA’s rising stars?

Eugenie Bouchard, the highest-ranked player younger than 21, at No 7, has appeared in two tournaments, reaching the last eight at the Australian Open and losing in the first round in Antwerp. No 18 Madison Keys, billed as a future world No 1, has not played since her loss to Serena in the Australian Open semis, while 27th-ranked Elina Svitolina, a semi-finalist in Brisbane, is 7-5 this year and has not won consecutive matches since the Australian Open.

Belinda Bencic, the 2014 WTA Rising Star, and world No 37, is 1-5 for the year, with her only win coming in Dubai. Croatian Donna Vekic, another highly rated teenager, does not have a single main-draw win this year and has slipped to No 83 in the rankings. Her only win in 2015 came in the Sydney qualifiers.

It has been a disappointing start to the year for Generation Next, and fans will be hoping they can step up in the coming months.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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