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After a successful look ahead to 2021, Andy Schooler picks out five WTA stars to follow in 2022 ahead of the new tennis season.

You can also read his ATP review for 2022 here.

Paula Badosa

World Ranking

8th

Badosa finished the year eighth on the WTA ranking list but I believe she’s more than capable of continuing her rise in 2022.

The Spaniard certainly has the power required to compete at the top of the game. Her first serve is a strong weapon but it is off the ground where Badosa can really look to dominate matches from in the forthcoming season.

Impressive off both wings, Badosa is prepared to take the game to her opponents, capable of crunching winners – she’s not your archetypal Spanish grinder.

Admittedly her best results did come on clay in 2021. She made the quarter-finals at Roland Garros and the semis in Madrid.

But her game style translates well to the other surfaces, as shown late in the year when she claimed the biggest title of her career in Indian Wells and also reached the last four of the WTA Finals.

A second-serve weakness does produce too many double faults but that is something she is sure to be working on.

In a sport which has seen 14 different players win at the last 19 Grand Slam tournaments, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Badosa add her name to that list in 2022.

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Liudmila Samsonova

World Ranking

2021 was a real breakthrough year for Samonsova with her second half of the season hugely encouraging for the year ahead.

From the start of the grasscourt season, the Russian went 23-9, capturing her first WTA title in Berlin and finishing the year as her country’s star performer as they won the Billie Jean King Cup.

That in itself could prove to be a strong foundation for 2022, a year that should see her contending for titles on a more regular basis.

Samsonova went a highly-encouraging 6-3 against top-20 opponents last season, showing she is capable of not just competing with players ranked considerably higher than her but also beating them.

Her game is based around an excellent serve – Samsonova in the top 20 for service points won with her aces-per-match figure only bettered by Ash Barty, Karolina Pliskova and Elena Rybakina.

However, her displays at those BJK Cup finals showed there’s much more to her game than just the first shot and she can climb higher over the next 12 months.

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Marta Kostyuk

World Ranking

COVID-19 has undoubtedly had an adverse effect on the development of many young players and one I feel falls under that umbrella is Kostyuk.

During an excellent junior career, the Ukrainian was picked out by many as having the potential to become a star in the senior ranks and she made duly made early waves.

However, that improvement stalled in 2019 and just when it looked like she had turned a corner, making a strong start to 2020, the tennis circuit shut down.

But 2021 provided plenty of signs that the potential is now being realised – I deliberately didn’t use the word finally, after all she is still only 19 and one of only five teenagers in the top 50.

Three semi-final appearances were made, as well as a run to the last 16 at Roland Garros, while six top-50 wins recorded as Kostyuk scraped into the year-end top 50.

Her percentage of return games won was interestingly exactly the same as both fellow teens Emma Raducanu and Elina Svitolina.

Service improvements will be required if she is to challenge the true elite but Kostyuk has the talent to win lower-level titles in 2022 and should climb higher in the ranking list.

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Camila Osorio

World Ranking

You may be seeing a lot more of this fresh-faced Colombian in 2022.

Still only 19, it is hard to knock Osorio’s 2021 campaign, one which resulted in her maiden WTA title (on home soil in Bogota) and ended with a runner-up finish in Tenerife where she beat Elina Svitolina, one of four top-50 wins over the course of the season.

It also featured another two semi-finals (Belgrade and Charleston).

As those results suggest, the claycourts are her preferred domain and she may well be worth following come the spring.

Osorio boasts an excellent return game – of those who played at least 10 matches, she was sixth for percentage of return games won in 2021.

More outings on faster surfaces could lower that in 2022 but I stress the word could – Osorio’s run to the third round of Wimbledon, where she beat seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, shows the former world junior number one has real potential off the clay too.

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Linda Fruhvirtova

World Ranking

We all want to find a player who jumps from outside the top 300 into the top 20, right?

Well, sorry for not picking out Emma Raducanu this time last year – although frankly, I was very happy with the players I did select as ones to watch – but let’s be honest, it’s highly unlikely that someone will replicate such a gigantic leap in 2022.

However, there are sure to be some big climbers and one youngster who will be worth following is Fruhvirtova.

Maybe it’s too early for the 16-year-old, the second-youngest player in the top 350, but the early signs are that she might just be capable of becoming the first player born in 2005 to crack the top 100.

With a strong junior career behind her – she won the prestigious Les Petits As tournament and helped the Czechs win the ITF World Junior Tennis event – Fruhvirtova claimed her maiden pro title in February and went on to post her first main-draw wins at WTA level.

Having trained alongside some established names at the Patrick Mouratoglou Academy in France, Fruhvirtova has been tipped by many to enjoy a fine career.

The man who led that Czech WJT team, Tomas Josefus, is among them. He said last year: “Linda is very good from the baseline and hits the ball hard. She is like a pit bull from the baseline.

“Two years ago, I watched some of Cori Gauff’s matches at the ITF World Junior Tennis Finals. I expected Cori would become a very good player and I predict a similar outcome for Linda.”

In short, don’t just take my word for it…

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