Top 5 crafty and versatile WTA players

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There is more than one way to reach the top in tennis. Here are the Top 5 players on the Hologic WTA Tour with the most variety in their game!

Bianca Andreescu

5. Bianca Andreescu

Some may not know that the powerhouse known as Bianca Andreescu actually has a very crafty side to her game. The Canadian is one of the rarest types of players who can hit with relentless power one moment and then show incredible control and finesse the next. Many would be surprised that the hard-hitting baseliner has one of the best forehand drop shots in the game, and that’s no exaggeration!

The 2019 US Open champion has seen much success in her career with her versatile game plan that keeps her opponents guessing. Her combination of powerful baseline groundstrokes and precise forehand touch allows her to push her opponents out wide to set up the drop shot finish. Bianca Andreescu’s career has been plagued by injury in recent years, but at just 22 years of age, the sky is the limit for the strong and crafty Canadian.

Anastasija Sevastova

4. Anastasija Sevastova

If Bianca Andreescu is the forehand drop shot master, then Anastasija Sevastova is certainly the backhand edition. The 32-year-old from Latvia may not have the same pace in her groundstrokes that Andreescu brings, but she makes up for it with heavier topspin and greater accuracy. In particular, one of her go-to tactics is to precisely place her serve to take her opponent out of the court, setting up the backhand drop shot finish.

During her prime, Sevastova reached a career-high of world No.11 in 2018, where she also achieved a personal best record by reaching the US Open semifinals. The Latvian had a rather disruptive career due to injuries, temporarily retiring from the sport in 2013 and making a return in 2015. Unfortunately, following the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Anastasija Sevastova’s rank dropped immensely after a series of poor match results.

Ons Jabeur

3. Ons Jabeur

Needing no introduction is everybody’s favorite Arab tennis player, 2022 Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur. The world No.5 is able to hit clean drop shot winners off both her forehand and backhand sides, making her game wildly unpredictable for her opponents. To top it off, she can fire up her groundstrokes with power and hit winners from the baseline as well.

Ons Jabeur is a player who thrives in chaotic rallies, that is when both players are running up and down between the baseline and the net. The Tunisian shows her fun and quirky personality during those battles of wits, and it’s not surprising to see her go for under-the-leg “tweener” shots every now and then. As one of the most complete all-round talents currently on the Hologic WTA Tour, Ons Jabeur may well be the next in line for a maiden Grand Slam title.

Kirsten Flipkens

2. Kirsten Flipkens

There are some who incorporate craft and tactics as part of their game plan, then there are those who base their entire playstyle on it. Kirsten Flipkens is such a player, sporting a playing style that may well be from another era of tennis. The Belgian is notorious for her serve-and-volley tactics and her frequent net approaches.

Despite having a two-handed backhand stroke in her arsenal, you will rarely see Flipkens use it as she is a backhand slice specialist. Taking the pace off the ball is one of her go-to tactics, and her ability to slice the ball deep and come into the net for the volley winner is quite profound. Kirsten Flipkens played her last singles match at this year’s Wimbledon, but still plays on the doubles tour where she is currently ranked No.62 and has five career titles.

Hsieh Su-Wei

1. Hsieh Su-Wei

Often regarded as the “magician” of the WTA, Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei is among the highest caliber of unorthodox. Unlike many unconventional players, the former doubles world No.1 has seen much success with her unpredictable game plan that sees more drop shots and lobs than actual groundstrokes. Hsieh is also one of the only players who hits both two-handed forehands and backhands, and it’s not uncommon to see her hit a crafty slice drop shot using both hands.

Due to the way that Hsieh Su-Wei winds up her finesse shots, it’s almost impossible to predict where or how she intends to hit the ball. A typical “Su-Wei-style winner” would encompass a short slice or drop shot that draws her opponent to the net followed by a pinpoint precise lob that clears the opposing player and lands as close to the baseline as possible. This type of point usually happens every once so often during a regular tennis match, but for Hsieh Su-Wei, it’s business as usual.

The aspect of Hsieh’s game that truly earns her the top spot on this list is the fact that she’s integrated her style into the modern game. Unlike Kirsten Flipkens, who often struggled to make her craft and tactics work, Hsieh finds a way to get her opponents moving from the baseline without putting herself at risk by constantly rushing to the net.
A grand factor in her success is the element of deception she has behind her strokes, as her opponents and even us as the viewers can never know for sure what her next shot will be. Hsieh Su-Wei is able to hit with great power and depth at will using a very short backswing and a fast follow-through, but her wind-up also allows her to switch gears instantaneously for a drop shot or a slow but highly angled shot.

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