Happy Valentine’s Day to the lovers – and lovers of tennis.
And an extra heart to Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, who withstood a fierce effort from Maria Sakkari to extend her unbeaten streak indoors and rise three spots to a career high No. 6 by winning the St. Petersburg tournament..
Last week (just like this week), there is only one tournament on the WTA Tour schedule.
But other moves were made on the few ITF circuit tournaments that were of any size at all.
And points from the 2020 edition of St. Petersburg (and the Thailand Open, the same week) are all finally dropping off as of Feb. 14.
Which will come as a shock to a few people.
ON THE UPSWING
Anett Kontaveit (EST): No. 9 =========> No. 6 (Is she the sixth best player in the world? Debatable, but as tightly-bunched as the No. 4 through No. 9 spots in the rankings are in terms of points, there is going to be a lot of shuffling around there week to week).
Jessica Pegula (USA): No. 16 =========> No. 14 (She rises in part on the basis of others’ misfortunes. But it’s another career high for the No. 2 American, who meets Coco Gauff Monday in the first round in Dubai).
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT): No. 25 =========> No. 21 (At 24, the former Roland Garros champion is never TOO far away, for some reason. She’s just six points out of the top 20 – a space she hasn’t occupied since Oct. 2018).
Elise Mertens (BEL): No. 26 =========> No. 22 (A good effort in St. Petersburg gets the Belgian within spitting distance of the top 20 again).
Bianca Andreescu (CAN): No. 46 =========> No. 43 (No idea what she’s up to and when she’s coming back. But she jumps up three spots because of other results).
Petra Martic (CRO): No. 70 =========> No. 61 (Winning a round in St. Petersburg did wonders for the 31-year-old’s ranking).
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR): No. 71 =========> No. 63 (Ranked a career high 30 after the 2018 US Open, injuries and the rest dropped her down. But the 27-year-old has suddenly become a very tough out once again).
Kaja Juvan (SLO): No. 102 =========> No. 92 (Juvan qualified and beat Alison Van Uytvanck in the first round in St. Petersburg).
Katie Boulter (GBR): No. 153 =========> No. 132 (Boulter wins the $60K ITF in Grenoble, France over Tatjana Maria in the semis, and Anna Blinkova in the final).
Andrea Lazaro Garcia (ESP): No. 243 =========> No. 203 (A win in a $25K women’s event at the Nadal Academy puts the 27-year-old at a career high, on the cusp of the top 200. Is she this year’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz? It’s been the slowest rise, with a lot of plateaus. But that’s a nice jump).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Elena Rybakina (KAZ): No. 12 =========> No. 16 (Rybakina pulled out of St. Petersburg after winning her first match. And she’s not in Dubai this week. She remains … kind of an enigmatic character).
Petra Kvitova (CZE): No. 23 =========> No. 25 (Not much going with the beloved Czech these days. Unseeded in Dubai, she gets Camila Giorgi in the first round).
Daria Kasatkina (RUS): No. 21 =========> No. 28 (The defending St. Petersburg champion didn’t defend, finds her ranking down AND faces the prospect of Iga Swiatek in the first round in Dubai).
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS): No. 43 =========> No. 51 (Another mystery, a bit like Rybakina in that way. Kind of operates in the shadows, and capable of the best and the worst, offering no clues when each will occur).
Jaqueline Cristian (ROU): No. 58 =========> No. 67 (The rising 23-year-old from Romania was at a career high last week, but drops some old ITF points and is back outside the top 60).
Magda Linette (POL): No. 45 =========> No. 71 (Tough drop for Linette, who lost to Sasnovich in the first round in Russia and failed to defend her points from winning the Thailand Open on the same week back in 2020. Random trivia – her win over Peng Shuai was the Chinese player’s last main-draw match).
Océane Dodin (FRA): No. 83 =========> No. 95 (Dodin qualified and reached the quarterfinals in St. Petersburg two years ago. She didn’t play it this year).
Vera Zvonareva (RUS): No. 81 =========> No. 103 (The indefatigable one falls out of the top 100 with a huge points drop that we can only attribute to a semifinal at the … 2019 St. Petersburg event? Will endeavour to verify, glad that these COVID ranking days are hopefully coming to an end).
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS): No. 107 =========> No. 136 (No, we don’t know what the 36-year-old is up to. She could have played the Australian Open with her ranking where it was. The last win she had was at the St. Petersburg tournament a year ago, where she made the semifinals. She had first-round losses in Miami, Roland Garros, Eastbourne and Wimbledon (all but the last in three sets), and hasn’t been seen since).
Olga Govortsova (BLR): No. 128 =========> No. 152
Leonie Kung (SUI): No. 166 =========> No. 315 (The 21-year-old Swiss drops nearly half her ranking in one shot. It was a bit of a fool’s paradise, as the habitué of the ITF circuit qualified and got all the way to the final at the Thailand Open in 2020. She defeated Zhu Lun, Wang Qiang (then ranked No. 27) and Nao Hibino en route. But she’s not going to earn those 200 points back on the $25K circuit, which is where she at the moment, in Cancun).
Peng Shuai (CHN): No. 350 =========> No. 385
Margarita Gasparyan (RUS): No. 179 =========> No. 614 (The chronically injured Gasparyan had her magic moment last year, making the final in St. Petersburg. Those points finally come off. And you can see what it does to her ranking. Gasparyan retired in that match against countrywoman Daria Kasatkina. And since then, she played five matches through Roland Garros and won just one total set. And hasn’t played since).
Kiwi-Canadian Erin Routliffe, who represents New Zealand, moves into the top 40 in doubles for the first time in her career after reaching the final at the St. Petersburg 500.
The Road to …?
St. Petersburg finalists Kontaveit and Sakkari move into the picture in the year-end race.