Variety brought refreshing change on WTA Tour in 2011
Bikash Mohapatra picks the biggest movers of the year in women's tennis.
If men's tennis in 2011 was about a one-man domination, the women's equivalent was anything but that.
In fact, there was so much variety on offer on the WTA Tour that it made for a refreshing change, considering it has been about the dominance by a couple of players in recent years.
For starters, the Williams sisters didn't win anything big.
Kim Clijsters did manage to capture the Australian Open but injuries restricted her participation otherwise.
The year also witnessed four different major champions and a host of talented young players making a mark. Here's a look at the biggest movers of the year among the women.
Image: Kim Clijsters
Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)
For Caroline Wozniacki, the year was about many successes and a 'major' failure.
The 21-year-old won six titles for a second year running and finished as the World No. 1 again. (It has been more than 60 weeks that the Dane has held onto the top spot) Wozniacki picked up titles in Dubai, Indian Wells, Charleston, Brussels, Copenhagen and New Haven while reaching the finals in Doha and Stuttgart.
However, she failed when it mattered the most. A semi-final showing in Melbourne, a third round exit in Paris, a fourth round loss in London and another semi-final appearance in New York meant Wozniacki's major drought continued.
The Dane has been on the tour for six years now and has 18 WTA titles to show for her efforts. However, when it comes to Grand Slams, the final loss to Clijsters in the 2009 US Open remains her lone notable achievement.
Come 2012, and Wozniacki will be keen to set the record straight.
Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic)
Petra Kvitova began the year ranked outside the top 30. A win in Brisbane, followed by a quarter-final appearance at the Australian Open, helped her break into the top 20.
Further successes in Paris and Madrid ensured a spot in the top 10. Then came the big breakthrough.
Kvitova won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, beating former champion Maria Sharapova in straight sets in the final. By doing so, she became the first left-handed player to win at the All England Club since Martina Navratilova in 1990, the first Czech player to win a major since Jana Novotna (at Wimbledon) in 1998, and the first major titlist of either gender to be born in the 1990s.
The left-hander won again in Linz (Austria) before winning the WTA Tour Championships in Istanbul, winning all her five matches en route.
The 21-year-old went on to star in the Czech Republic team's win the Fed Cup, capping a glorious year that had witnessed her win seven titles and finish the year as the No.2 player.
Victoria Azarenka (Belarus)
The fact that the Belarussian ended the year at a career-high No.3 explains the success she had.
A big win in Miami (beating Sharapova in the final), was followed by other titles in Andalucia and Luxembourg.
It was to her misfortune that Petra Kvitova came between her and three potential successes. The 22-year-old suffered losses against the Czech in the final in Madrid, the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the final at the WTA Tour Championships in Istanbul.
The semi-final showing at Wimbledon was nonetheless the first time Azarenka had advanced to the semi-finals of a major.
Maria Sharapova (Russia)
The Russian returned to the tour in March, playing in the first premier mandatory tournament of the year, in Indian Wells, where she was lost in the semi-finals. The result helped her get into the top 10 for the first time in more than two years.
In the final of the following tournament in Miami, she was beaten in the final in Victoria Azarenka.