Boulter Leads Nominations For 2023 WTA Most Improved Player Of The Year

Boulter Leads Nominations For 2023 WTA Most Improved Player Of The Year

by Nurein Ahmed

British No. 1 Katie Boulter leads the list of nominations for the WTA Most Improved Player of the Year award alongside four other players.

This distinction is bestowed upon a player ranked inside the Top 100 and who showed substantial improvement throughout the season. Improvement in this case is attributed to form, results, and ranking. Boulter has been honored in this category thanks to her best-ever season on tour.

The 27-year-old started the season playing on the ITF circuit and ranked World No. 136. She excelled at that level winning one title from three finals. It was during the grass swing when Boulter made the whole world take notice of her talent.

She won the WTA 250 in Nottingham - her first title at the Tour level - in the historic all-British final. That result gave Boulter the blueprint to break the world's Top 50 for the first time thanks to third-round finishes at Wimbledon and the US Open. She is the current top-ranked British woman at 58th in the year-end rankings.

Boulte faces stiff competition from the favorite of this accolade and that happens to be World No. 15 Qinwen Zheng. 12 months ago, Zheng was voted as the WTA Newcomer of the Year and has shown immense progress in 2023 to be in the running for another prestigious award.

The 21-year-old became a WTA champion for the first time when she won the Palermo 250 in July. Zheng then backed up that result by reaching the last eight of a Grand Slam also for the first time at the US Open.

As China's newest star, she became a gold medalist at the Asian games in late September and ended her season making back-to-back finals in Zhengzhou and the WTA Elite Trophy, winning the former.

Lin Zhu and Xinyu Wang are other Chinese candidates who have been nominated for the award. 29-year-old Zhu is the most experienced of the Chinese trio, and had a fantastic first quarter of the season, earning a Top 10 win over Maria Sakkari en route to the fourth round of the Australian Oepn.

Zhu capitalized on that wave of momentum by winning her maiden WTA title in Hua Hin in early February. She finished the season in top gear making consecutive finals in Osaka and the Asian Games, and was a semifinalist at the WTA Elite Trophy.

Wang, for her part, is still waiting for her first WTA singles title. However, she rose over 60 spots to inside the Top 40. The 22-year-old became a first-time Grand Slam champion in doubles winning the French Open alongside Hsieh Su-Wei. She scored a couple of Top 20 wins during the season.

And last on the list is Jasmine Paolini, who became Italy's new No. 1 on the WTA tour. She was slow off the blocks, losing eight of her first 12 matches, and was ranked outside the Top 70 in April. But the clay court swing brought the best out of Paolini.

The 27-year-old reached four finals at all levels (two at WTA 125). She was a champion in Florence 125K and runner-up in Makaraska. Paolini lost in both Tour-level finals she played in 2023 (Palermo and Monastir). Paolini was integral in guiding Italy to the first Billie Jean King Cup final in a decade. She finished the season ranked World No. 30.


You may also like