Who are the hottest players heading into the first two Premier Mandatory tournaments of the season in Indian Wells and Miami? WTA Insider weighs in.
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen
March 2, 2018

Subjectivity is always a necessary component of the WTA Insider Heat Index, but two months into the season, one player has made the decision-making easy. When you're a two-time major champion and you haven't lost a match all month, you take your rightful place at the head of the class. 

There's no way around it: Petra Kvitova is the most devastating hot hand on tour. 

The WTA Insider Heat Index is your guide to the hottest performers on the WTA tour. It's not about ranking points or Slam wins, it's about the moment. The Heat Index is about the here and now: who's hot and who's not, going into the most important swings of the season. The goal is to give WTA fans and commentators a snapshot of who are the hot hands on tour.

The Heat Index takes the following factors into consideration: performance over recent weeks, quality of wins, general form, historical performance, past success at upcoming tournaments, injuries and coaching changes, as well as the ever so subjective "gut feeling".

With the first Premier Mandatory tournaments on the horizon at the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open, WTA Insider breaks down our picks for the 10 hottest players heading into March Madness:

1. Petra Kvitova (Current rank: No.9)
2018 record: 14-2
Last 10 matches: 10-0
Recent Results: Doha champion, St. Petersburg champion
Key Stats: Kvitova was 6-0 against the Top 10 in February, including a 3-0 record against the Top 5. After back-to-back titles in Doha and St. Petersburg, she is riding a 13-match win streak, while also posting the toughest strength of schedule (37.5) of anyone in the top eight of the Porsche Race to Singapore Leaderboard.

Hot Take: Kvitova didn't lose a match in February and she went through a flurry of Top 10 players to do it. En route to her two titles, she defeated Caroline Wozniacki, Elina Svitolina, Julia Goerges, Garbiñe Muguruza, and Jelena Ostapenko. Now to see if she can translate that success towards the Sunshine Swing, which has historically been a tricky four weeks for the Czech. Kvitova has yet to make it past the quarterfinals of either tournament. 

2. Simona Halep (Current rank: No.1)
2018 record: 14-1
Last 10 matches: 9-1
Recent Results: Doha semifinals, Australian Open finalist. 
Key Stat: After her heroic run to the Australian Open final, Halep has yet to lose a set. She leads the tour in return points won (50.8%) and return games won (51.5%). 
Hot Take: In her only tournament since Melbourne, Halep threw down two bagel sets against Ekaterina Makarova and CiCi Bellis to make the semifinals in Doha. Unfortunately, the foot injury she picked up at the Australian Open continues to plague her, and she was forced to withdraw ahead of the Doha semifinals. Regardless of injury, her level remains incredibly high. Halep and Wozniacki are neck-and-neck for this No.2 spot, but we gave Halep the edge given she has far fewer points to defend in March (280 pts vs. 865 pts). 

3. Caroline Wozniacki (Current rank: No. 2)
2018 record:
Last 10 matches: 8-2
Recent Results: Doha semifinals, Australian Open champion
Key Stat: The Dane co-leads the tour in matches won (15) and has posted a 5-1 record in three-set matches. 
Hot Take: Many would have expected Wozniacki to take some time off to enjoy her Australian Open win but she was back on court quickly for two Premier events in February, making the quarterfinals of St. Petersburg (l. Kasatkina) and the semifinals of Doha (l. Kvitova). All three of her losses have come to players on this edition of the Heat Index.

As we look ahead to Indian Wells and Miami, Wozniacki has had good success during the Sunshine Swing. A champion in Indian Wells in 2011, she made the quarterfinals last year and followed it up two weeks later with a final in Miami. 

4. Angelique Kerber (Current rank: No.10)
2018 record:
Last 10 matches: 7-3
Recent Results: Australian Open semifinals, Doha quarterfinals, Dubai semifinals. 
Key Stat: Along with Wozniacki, Kerber co-leads the tour in matches won and two of her three losses have come in three sets to No.1 Halep and No.2 Wozniacki. 
Hot Take: The German has been relentless in her scheduling, having played an event in six of the first eight weeks of the season. She looked a bit gassed in Dubai, taking a quick loss to Svitolina, but she'll come into Indian Wells after some rest. Kerber is bidding to get past the Round of 16 in Indian Wells for the first time since 2013. 

5. Elina Svitolina (Current rank: No.4)
2018 record:
Last 10 matches: 8-2
Recent Results: Dubai champion, Doha quarterfinals, Australian Open quarterfinals
Key Stat: Svitolina successfully defended her Dubai title to win her second title of the season, co-leading the tour with Kvitova on that metric. She is 3-0 against the Top 10 this year.
Hot Take: There's an argument to be made that Svitolina should be ranked ahead of Kerber on this edition of the Heat Index, but we gave the German the nod after comparing their strength of schedules: Kerber's is 56.17, Svitolina's is 88.56, the lowest of the curent PRTS top eight.

6.  Julia Goerges (Current rank: No.11)
2018 record:
Last 10 matches: 7-3
Recent Results: St. Petersburg semifinals, Doha quarterfinals
Key Stat: The German has been the tour's best server through the first two months of the season. She leads the tour (minimum five matches played) in both first service points won (75.1%), second serve points won (54.6%), service games won (85.4%), and break points saved (70.3%). Goerges' two February losses came to Kvitova.
Hot Take: Goerges' tight three-set duel with Kvitova in the St. Petersburg semifinals was one of the best matches in February. Unfortunately, their follow-up affair ended in a retirement, as Goerges picked up an upper leg injury. But after breaking into the Top 10 for the first time after St. Petersburg, there's no doubt the German is playing the best tennis of her career as she continues to back up her astounding 12-month rise. 

7. Garbiñe Muguruza (Current rank: No.3)
2018 record:
Last 10 matches: 6-4
Recent Results: Doha final, Dubai semifinal.
Key Stat: After starting her season with a 2-3 record in January, Muguruza went 5-2 in February and was a point away from making back-to-back finals (Muguruza had match points against Kasatkina in the Dubai semifinal). She also posted her first two Top 10 wins of the season.
Hot Take: The addition of Conchita Martinez to her team seems to have sparked something within Muguruza, who put in a strong two-week run through the Middle East swing. Last season, Muguruza posted her best result at either Indian Wells or Miami, advancing to the quarterfinals in the California desert. 

8. Karolina Pliskova (Current rank: No.5)
2018 record: 8-4
Last 10 matches: 6-4
Recent Results: Australian Open quarterfinal, Doha Round of 16, Dubai quarterfinals.
Key Stat: Pliskova failed to win back-to-back matches in February and is now 0-3 vs. Top 10 players in 2018.
Hot Take: We're wary of reading too much into Pliskova's February results. She fell ill ahead of Fed Cup and was playing catch-up with her energy levels after that. But we are alarmed by the drop-off in her serving statistics. 

Through two months of the season, the tour's perennial ace-leader ranks No.3 in aces, behind Goerges and Svitolina, and does not rank in the Top 10 of any other serving statistic. She is also down from her career average in 1st serve points won (71.7% vs. 69.8%), service points won (61.1% vs. 60.8%), service games won (75.4% vs. 73.6%), and break points saved (60.7% vs. 54.7%). The margins are small, but it's an uphill battle for the Czech if she's fighting through her service games.

9. Daria Kasatkina (Current rank: No.20)
2018 record:
Last 10 matches: 7-3
Recent Results: Dubai finalist, St. Petersburg semifinal.
Key Stat: Kasatkina made her Top 20 debut after a successful February, tallying two Top 5 wins over Caroline Wozniacki and Garbiñe Muguruza.
Hot Take: The 20-year-old put aside a slow start to the season to string together a great February campaign, capped off by a dramatic run to her third tournament final in Dubai. En route to the final, Kasatkina scored wins over Agnieszka Radwanska, Johanna Konta, Elena Vesnina, and Garbiñe Muguruza, saving five match points throughout the week before falling to Elina Svitolina. 

10. Caroline Garcia (Current rank: No.7)
2018 record:
Last 10 matches: 6-4
Recent Results: Doha quarterfinals, Dubai quarterfinals.
Key Stat: Garcia made back-to-back quarterfinals in the Middle East, losing both times to Muguruza.
Hot Take: Garcia has continued to build on her Round of 16 showing in Melbourne and played to her ranking in Doha and Dubai. She has just 120 points to defend over Indian Wells and Miami.

Stats and information provided by SAP Tennis Analytics.