With the US Open getting under way – the first major in seven months – the tournament formerly known as “Cincinnati” was completed Saturday inside the US Open bubble.
And the surprising run by Victoria Azarenka was a big boost to her fortunes.
The 31-year-old had already won five matches when she was gifted the trophy; Naomi Osaka, who had pulled her hamstring a little in her semifinal against Elise Mertens, decided not to risk it with the big one next up.
On the upswing
Johanna Konta (GBR): No. 15 ===========> No. 13 – It’s hard to lose points, but much easier to gain them during this special ranking period. Konta’s semifinal effort in “Cincy” helps her cause.
Elise Mertens (BEL): No. 22 ===========> No. 18 – The Belgian moves back into the top 20 with her “Cincy” semifinal, and must have been frustrated sitting on the sidelines after Osaka defeated her, and then didn’t play the final.
Victoria Azarenka (BLR): No. 59 ===========> No. 27 – The Cincinnati title rockets Azarenka back into the top 30 for the first time since March 6, 2017 – a few months before she returned to the Tour after maternity leave and a couple of weeks before her points from the Sunshine Double in 2016 dropped off. It was too late for the US Open, but she will be in much better stead to avoid the tough draws she’s had more than her share of since her return.
Ons Jabeur (TUN): No. 39 ===========> No. 31 – A career high, after a quarterfinal effort in “Cincy” that began with a bagel handed to her by Canadian Leylah Fernandez in her very first match.
Jessica Pegula (USA): No. 83 ===========> No. 63 – She’s eight spots away from her career high reached just over a year ago, after going “qualies to quarters” in Cincy.
Christina Mchale (USA): No. 90 ===========> No. 75
Leylah Fernandez (CAN): No. 111 ===========> No. 104 – Another career high for the Canadian, who turns 18 on Sunday and is 11 ranking points below Kaia Kanepi, currently ranked No. 100. She makes her US Open main draw debut Tuesday against Vera Zvonareva.
Cici Bellis (USA): No. 249 ===========> No. 188 (back in the top 200 with her “real” ranking. But Bellis can play the French Open with her injury protected ranking of No. 43).
On the downswing
Belinda Bencic (SUI): No. 8 ===========> No. 10 – The Swiss, who is skipping the bubble experience, which allowed Serena Williams to move to No. 8 and Naomi Osaka to No. 9.