Predictions are a part of punditry, but this is not a prediction column. Far too much about the WTA Tour is fluid and uncertain to merit a firm prediction at this point in the 2019 tennis season.
However, I will say this much: If you look at the WTA rankings right now, and account for Elina Svitolina’s loss in Madrid plus the fact that Kiki Bertens is defending finalist points in Spain, one realization emerges.
The composition of the top five on tour figures to be relatively stable for the next few months.
Svitolina losing early in Madrid prevents her from picking up a large number of points. Given that she has a Rome title to defend next week, any points gain she might make at Roland Garros (unless she wins the tournament) will not offset a significant drop in Rome points, should it occur. Unless she wins the French Open, an early Rome loss would hurt her chances of cracking the top five and staying there in 2019.
So, as we then look at the top five, what details stand out? One can come up with many valid and informative answers. My observation is this: Three members of the top five — Simona Halep (Roland Garros), Angelique Kerber (Wimbledon), and Naomi Osaka (U.S. Open) — are defending major championship points later this year.
The two players in the top five who aren’t? Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova.
Czech it out! Two players from the same nation both have great opportunities to end 2019 as the WTA’s No. 1 player.
Yes, Kvitova is defending championship points at the Premier Mandatory in Madrid this week, but she will be defending nothing at Wimbledon and is not defending a huge point total at the U.S. Open. Pliskova isn’t defending as many points as Kvitova is in Madrid and has plenty of point-pickup opportunities in the remainder of 2019. A major final here and a Premier 5 final over there will significantly boost her standing in the rankings.
Again, I am not making predictions here, but one can clearly see that in mapping out the rest of the 2019 WTA campaign, a couple of Czechs have a great chance to bounce ahead of everyone else on tour.