2008 WTA Tour - Summary


Justine Henin started the season as the No. 1 ranked player in the world, and following her impressive 2007 season and her victory at the warm-up tournament in Sydney, she was considered the outright favourite to win the Australian Open. However, she was beaten in emphatic fashion by Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals, who then beat Jelena Janković and Ana Ivanovic to win her third Grand Slam title. Daniela Hantuchová also reached her first Grand Slam semifinal. Sister team Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko pulled off an unexpected title run in the doubles draw, while Sun Tiantian teamed up with Nenad Zimonjić to win her first Grand Slam tournament of any kind in the mixed doubles event.

Sharapova continued to impress by winning the tournament in Doha, before her 18-match win streak was snapped by Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semifinals of Indian Wells. Kuznetsova went on to lose to Ivanovic. It was then the turn of Serena Williams to build a win streak, winning the title in Bangalore, Miami—her fifth title at the event, tying Steffi Graf for the most singles titles at this tournament—and Charleston. Her 17-match win streak was eventually ended in Berlin by Dinara Safina, who had already beaten Henin in that tournament, and went on to win the title.

During the Rome tournament, Henin then announced her retirement from professional tennis, becoming the first player ever to retire while ranked at No. 1 in the world. Her retirement meant that then-No. 2 Maria Sharapova became the new No. 1 by default. Jelena Janković eventually won the tournament in Rome.

With Henin's retirement, the French Open was considered to be wide open. World No. 1 Sharapova was stopped by Safina in the fourth round, who fought back from match points down to win, before doing the same against Elena Dementieva in the quarterfinals. She eventually reached her first Grand Slam final. On the other side of the draw, Ana Ivanovic came through after an all-Serbian semifinal with Jelena Janković, which meant that Ivanovic would move to the No. 1 position regardless of the result in the final. Nevertheless, she ended up beating Safina for her first Slam title. In the women's doubles tournament, Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual were victorious, the first Slam for Medina Garrigues and the tenth for Ruano Pascual. Victoria Azarenka won her second Grand Slam in the mixed doubles event.

The third Grand Slam of the year at Wimbledon brought with it some surprises: for the first time in the Open Era, none of the top four seeds managed to reach the semifinals. World No. 1 Ivanovic surrendered to Zheng Jie in the third round, who went on to become the first Chinese women to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam in singles. Tamarine Tanasugarn knocked out Janković en route to her first major quarterfinal. Sharapova was upset by Alla Kudryavtseva, and Kuznetsova lost to Agnieszka Radwańska, who also won the warm-up tournament in Eastbourne. Eventually, Serena Williams and her sister Venus Williams reached the final, the first Grand Slam final between the two since Wimbledon five years ago. Venus eventually beat her sister for her fifth Wimbledon title. They also teamed up to win the doubles title, their seventh as a team. In the mixed doubles event, Samantha Stosur won with Bob Bryan.

Ivanovic lost her No. 1 ranking in August, and Jelena Janković moved into the position for the first time. Dinara Safina proved strong on the summer hardcourts, winning titles in Los Angeles and Montréal. She then made it to the final match at the Beijing Olympics, but lost there to Dementieva, who achieved her biggest career victory with the gold medal. With Vera Zvonareva also winning the bronze medal, it meant that Russia sweeped the podium in the singles event. Li Na almost made a strong run at home, but lost in the bronze medal match. In doubles, Serena and Venus Williams won their second gold medals together, after winning at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Ivanovic regained the No. 1 position following the Olympics, and held it heading into the U.S. Open. There it was up to grabs, with five women—Ivanovic, Janković, Safina, Kuznetsova, and Serena Williams—being in contention for the position. Ivanovic was upset in the second round by Julie Coin, one of the worst losses for a top-ranked player ever, and by virtue of winning her eighth major title, Williams ascended to the top ranking for the first time since 2002. In the doubles tournament, Cara Black and Liezel Huber won their fourth Grand Slam as a team, with Black also winning the mixed doubles title with Leander Paes.

The fall season saw Jelena Janković return to the No. 1 position after winning events in Beijing, Stuttgart and Moscow, and securing the year-end No. 1 ranking. Dinara Safina won the title in Tokyo, beating Petrova and Kuznetsova en route. Both had a solid indoor season, with Petrova making the final of Stuttgart and winning Quebec, and Kuznetsova finishing runner-up in Beijing and Tokyo. Vera Zvonareva also had a strong finish to the year, reaching the final of Moscow and Linz, where she lost to Ivanovic, and the WTA Tour Championships in Doha, where she lost to Venus Williams. Williams won her first title at the championships. Other players at the championships were semifinalists Elena Dementieva and Jelena Janković, and Dinara Safina, Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova, plus alternates Agnieszka Radwańska and Nadia Petrova. In the doubles event, Black and Huber successfully defended the title they won last year.

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