And the prize for the surprise of the year 2018 goes to ... Kiki Bertens! Truly, the Dutch player was the big surprise of the season. She certainly played the best year of her career, showing aggressiveness and consistency throughout the season.
Above all, for the first time in her career, the 27-year-old won WTA titles for the first time on hard courts. On clay, she began to gather important results. After Charleston (on green clay), she reached the final of the Mutua Madrid Open, which she lost to Petra Kvitova and the quarterfinals in Nurnberg, in addition to the third round at the French Open.
For the first time in her career, even the grass season gave her a lot of satisfaction. She reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time in her career, where she was defeated by Julia Goerges. However she did her masterpiece at the Western & Southern Open, where, in the final, she defeated Simona Halep, to win the most important title of her career (a total of seven trophies in nine finals played).
Although she lost early, in the third round, at the US Open, she did win the Hansol Korea Open, confirming her great progress on hard courts. The semi-final at WTA Finals was the last highlight of a great season. By now we can consider Bertens a skilled player on every surface rather than just being a clay-courter.
Her technical maturity was the surprise this year. Surely she was the surprise of the season, but beware; if she betters her performance in 2019, she will be able to enrich her collection of titles and challenge all the other top-players, at all events.