With a new month, comes a new member of the WTA Tour’s top 10 – and a first-time qualifier for the WTA Finals.
Anett Kontaveit of Estonia needed to run the table in Moscow and Cluj-Napoca to qualify for the Guadalajara tournament.
And she did. Even with the late withdrawal of rival Ons Jabeur from another Tour event last week, she still needed to do it.
And she did it in style, beating Simona Halep on soil with alacrity.
Just. Too. Good.
With that, she moves into the top 10. And she sits at No. 8. Because this is the week that the WTA Tour removes all the points from its post-season events in 2019, the WTA Tour Finals and the Zhuhai Trophy event for the second-tier top finishers.
That one will not be held in 2021, while the WTA Finals have been moved to Mexico.It’s the week where some one-off rankings can occur. As an example, Genie Bouchard rose to No. 5 – just for this one week – back in 2014 as the points from other players ranked higher than she, who had done well the previous year at the Tour Finals, dropped off. But after she lost all three of her qualifying matches in her first Finals qualification in Singapore, she went back down to No. 7 at the conclusion of the tournament.
ON THE UPSWING
*Barbora Krejcikova (CZE): No. 4 =======> No. 3 (If you’d told Krejcikova at the beginning of the season that she’d be No. 3 with a couple of weeks to go, she probably would laughed you out the socially-distanced room. But there she is, as she prepares for her first WTA Tour Finals).
*Maria Sakkari (GRE): No. 7 =======> No. 6 (Another career high for Sakkari, also making her WTA Final debut in 10 days).
*Ons Jabeur (TUN): No. 8 =======> No. 7 (Jabeur rolled the dice that Anett Kontaveit couldn’t win in Cluj and earn that final spot in Guadalajara. But Konteveit did, and Jabeur couldn’t have been a better sport about it. There’s a pretty good chance that she’ll end up playing anyway, as an alternate. Despite that, she’s at another career high this week).
*Anett Kontaveit (EST): No. 14 =======> No. 8 (It was Yes, Yes, Anett as the Estonian ran the table in Moscow and Cluj-Napoca to earn an 11th-hour nomination for the Tour finals. Not only that, she leaps into the top 10 before she even gets there).
*Angelique Kerber (GER) No. No. 12 =======> No. 9 (Kerber is back in the top 10 without having done anything at all, as she didn’t make Shenzhen in 2019 and doesn’t drop any points).
*Paula Badosa (ESP): No. 13 =======> No. 11 (Badosa is dealing with a shoulder injury that may or may not compromise her in Guadalajara. But she rises another two spots in this unusual week to another career high).
*Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS): No. 16 =======> No. 12 (Did we think Pavlyuchenkova, somehow, had been as high as No. 12 before? Yes. But she hasn’t. Despite losing in the Moscow quarterfinals and being idle last week, she moves to a career high as she prepares to lead the “Russian Tennis Federation” team at the BJK Cup finals this week).
*Jessica Pegula (USA): No. 21 =======> No. 20 (A little belated wedding president for Pegula, who couldn’t be in Prague with her BJK Cup teammates because coach David Witt tested positive after her wedding, hits the top 20 for the first time in her career).
*Emma Raducanu (GBR): No. 23 =======> No. 21 (A couple of match wins were good for the competitive soul in Cluj. And Raducanu finds herself just 23 points out of the top 20, with a planned participation in Linz to come. Check at the end of the list to see the progress of another British teenager last week).
*Liudmila Samsonova (RUS): No. 42 =======> No. 40 (The Rusian, turned Italian, turned Russian moves up to a career high after making the Courmayeur semis).
*Clara Tauson (DEN): No. 49 =======> No. 46 (Another career high for the 18-year-old Courmayeur finalist).
*Marta Kostyuk (UKR): No. 55 =======> No. 50 (Still barely 19 – just 4 1/2 months older than Emma Raducanu, it feels as though the former junior prodigy has been top 50 before, doesn’t it? But she actually hasn’t. She is at a career high after her Cluj semifinal).
*Jasmine Paolini (ITA): No. 56 =======> No. 51 (Another career high for the 25-year-old Italian who hasn’t exploded onto the scene, but has risen steadily throughout the year. She began 2021 at No. 96; now she’s five points away from the top 50).
Donna Vekic (CRO): No. 97 =======> No. 67 (Vekic shows she has recovered beautifully from knee surgery earlier this year, winning her first title since 2017 at Courmayeur, and rising 30 spots).
Rebecca Peterson (SWE): No. 97 =======> No. 81 (Peterson made the Cluj semis and, like Vekic, has given herself lots of space from that fragile space just inside the top 100).
*Maryna Zanevska (UKR): No. 103 =======> No. 82 (The Poland Open champion last July spoke eloquently of how she had basically been travelling on her own all summer, and how it was a tough experience, but an edifying one. She is 42-15 on the season, all levels combined, after winning a high-level ITF in Les Franqueses Del Valles last week. With that, came a leap of 22 spots, a top 100 debut at age 28, and the end to stressing about Grand Slam qualifying).
Misaki Doi (JPN): No. 107 =======> No. 98 (Doi is playing in tournaments the Americans are trying to win to get that reciprocal Australian Open wild card. But although she’s not eligible for it, she took care of business herself by winning in Tyler Texas and returning to the top 100).
*Chloe Paquet (FRA): No. 165 =======> No. 126 (The 27-year-old hits a mid-career, career high as she wins ITF tournaments in Netenya and Poitiers – both of which go on her resumé at the same time).
*Diane Parry (FRA): No. 194 =======> No. 174 (Another Frenchwoman, this one just 19, hits a career high after winning an ITF tournament in Seville).
*Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE): No. 336 =======> No. 299 (The 16-year-old breaks into the top 300 after qualifying and making the quarters at the Franqueses Del Valles ITF last week).
*Antonia Ruzic (CRO): No. 451 =======> No. 355 (The 18-year-old Croat, who had already leaped from No. 727 to a career high of No. 451, wins an ITF in Hamburg and rises nearly 100 more spots this week).
*Matilda Mutavdzic (GBR): No. 601 =======> No. 448 (While it’s easier to eat up chunks of ranking territory at that level, this 17-year-old Brit is also on the rise. She gets points from qualifying and reaching the final at a $25K ITF in Israel, and then winning a round the second week – 42 points in all).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Naomi Osaka (JPN): No. 10 =======> No. 13 (When will she be back? Who knows. But she’s out of the top 10 after the 2019 Shenzhen points drop off).
Elina Svitolina (UKR): No. 6 =======> No. 14 (Svitolina made the finals in Shenzhen in 2019. And while she took a stab at trying to get back there with her participation in the Tenerife 250, she lost first round, and that was about it. That’s more than 1000 points off her scorecard that she can’t get back).
Belinda Bencic (SUI): No. 9 =======> No. 17 (Another drop case because of 2019 Shenzhen. But she won’t qualify this year to make them up).
Simona Halep (ROU): No. 18 =======> No. 22 (The Romanian got to the final of her home tournament, but it only partly mitigated the loss of all the 2019 points earned in Shenzhen).
Bianca Andreescu (CAN): No. 22 =======> No. 24 (The Canadian has withstood the loss of all her 2019 points fairly well. She drops 250 of them this week, but is still in the top 25 despite not having done that much to defend them).
Karolina Muchova (CZE): No. 29 =======> No. 34 (Muchova has been injured must of the last few months, and has fallen enough that there’s a chance she might be unseeded in Australia. If she’s healthy, that’s a tough draw for anyone).
Petra Martic (CRO): No. 47 =======> No. 53 (Points from the 2019 Elite Trophy drop, and the talented Croat is out of the top 50).
Madison Keys (USA): No. 46 =======> No. 55 (It has been … awhile since Keys, still just 26, has been out of the top 50. Since June 24, 2013, in fact. But the lost points from 2019 hit, and it just makes this year’s struggles even more real).
Dayana Yastremska (UKR): No. 79 =======> No. 100 (Yastremska missed a significant amount of time this year as a positive doping test was later exonerated. But despite making the Courmayeur quarterfinals, she can’t defend the Elite Trophy points and drops right to No. 100. on the bubble for Australia. A year ago, she travelled all the way Down Under on the chance her appeal would be quickly heard and the decision on her suspension reversed. It wasn’t. This time, if things don’t break right, she’ll have to go there to qualify. At the beginning of 2021, Yastremska was ranked No. 29).
Mandy Minella (LUX): No. 201 =======> No. 240 (Minella has a cushion with a protected ranking after she took a second maternity leave. But with the lower cutoff in Australia she should still be able to make the qualifying).
Not much news on the complete Canadian rankings front this week, as just about everyone is on the downswing.
Race to Guadalajara
The race is set, although obviously there are some among the list who have injury questions.
Canadian Sharon Fichman, in a crowning achievement in her second career, qualifies for the doubles in Guadalajara.
The teams of Coco Gauff and Katy McNally, and Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani, would have qualified ahead of them. But Stefani is recovering from knee surgery and won’t be back until next year.
Unfortunately for Gauff/McNally, Gauff has ended her season even if McNally is still playing. That would have been a great experience for the teenager, with little pressure at the “crown-jewel” event and more than a lot of fun. The other teams are probably not displeased about this. But it is what it is.
Unfortunately, a shoulder injury has been keeping Fichman out for long periods this year. Even if she and Giulana Olmos do play in Mexico – and you’d think they’d try, not only because it’s an honour but because Olmos is Mexican – we wouldn’t expect much.