Re: Strengths and Weaknesses of Top 10
Strengths in Green, Negatives in Red
-This will sound weird, but I actually think the biggest key to her success is great "wrist-work" -- she is able to flick back ANY shots no matter how hard you hit them if they're within her reach (which isn't something you can say about Wozniacki, despite being a better defender than Aza overall), and for the same reason is also effortlessly able to redirect balls despite her lack of firepower.
-Excellent footwork and instincts of how to position herself and when to move forward, etc.
-Excellent focus, mental strength and poise under pressure
-Can be rather impotent against big hitters who are willing to use the full width of the court (e.g. Serena, Maria when she plays a good match, Li when not in brainfart mode), as her raw footspeed is not good enough to defend like crazy (a la Wozniacki/Radwanska) if she's being run side to side from one corner to the other, nor does she get chances to play offense against these players
-Best backhand on the WTA
-Weight of shot (though not necessarily raw pace of shot)
-Despite being quicker sprinting from A to B than she's given credit for, she is still very bad at changing directions, meaning she remains a poor defensive player by the standards of the top 10.
-Footwork can at times be iffy, which is more fatal for her than other ballbashers because she doesn't have the kind of natural timing or raw pace that she can get away with it if she's not in exactly the right position
-Post-surgery, can be flakey in pressure situations.
-Serve, serve, serve
-Excellent at creating angles and opening up the court with her forehand
-Mental strength, obvs
-Footwork can be comically awful at times, including in virtually every match on red clay since 2003
-Backhand, despite being her stronger wing at her peak, has been strangely going downhill in recent years, both in terms of potency and reliability
-Mixes up the placement of her defensive shots well, which can expose her opponents if their reaction times or footwork are off
-Occasionally capable of dictating play (to some extent) with her forehand by taking it on the rise
-Very poor weight of shot means she can often groove her opponent, even if they started the match out of form
-Poor upper-body strength makes her oddly inept at dealing with topspin.
-Probably the best raw footspeed of anyone in the top 20 atm
-Forehand is very hard to read with it's super-snappy takeback
-Technically-flawed groundstrokes mean she's generally incapable of being the aggressor in matches without collapsing in a mound of unforced errors
-Excellent point construction
-Best net-player in the top 20
-Very good competitor
-Even though her will is never lacking, any top 30 big-hitter can take the match out of her hands, seeing as she needs lots of time for her offensive game to be effective, and she is not one of the top defensive players (away from clay atleast) either
-Excellent raw footspeed
-Good at absorbing and redirecting pace and, as others have said, uses the width of the court very well
-Backhand is very effective finishing shot, despite not being heavy she hits it clean as a whistle and generally gets great length on it, as well as being reasonably reliable
-Her potentially great defensive abilities are unrealised due to her often poor footwork and court sense
-Forehand is a technically poor shot - OK-ish as a defensive shot, but technically incapable of holding up if she's trying to play out-and-out first-strike tennis with it, unless she puts GOBS of topspin on it (thus limiting the potency of said first strike)
-Forehand among the most explosive shots in the history of the women's game
-Serve; even when she throws in a high-% first serve, it's still usually very effective due to the lefty spin, which makes it perhaps the most reliable serve at crunch times other than Serena's
-Contrary to popular belief, is comfortable in the spotlight and generally steps it up in big matches (as shown by how much stronger her Slam results were this year than her WTA results).
-Footwork very cumbersome
-Return, while deadly on the rare occasions she connects, misfires more often than not -- whether this is because of bad footwork or because she lacks the fundamental athletic dexterity to be a good returner, I don't know