Doha was the place Iga Swiatek began her 37-match winning streak a year ago, lasting all the way through Wimbledon.
Watch out, because she might well be at it again.
The world No. 1 got a first-round bye and a walkover. But in the three matches she DID play, she lost just five games.
The Doha tournament was the only one on the WTA side this week, which is probably a function of it alternating with Dubai with the 500 and 1000 designations. This year, it was only a 500. But because it flew solo, the field was off the charts.
The next couple of weeks are a bit confusing because the players will drop points from a 1000 this Monday, and then, after they’ve played a 1000, drop points from a 500 from last year.
There were other playing opportunities at the ITF level. And several players made the most of them.
ON THE UPSWING
Jessica Pegula (USA): No. 4 ========== No. 3 (Pegula leaps over Ons Jabeur and into the No. 3 spot, tying her career high. She also added the doubles title in Doha with Coco Gauff).
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS): No. 15 ========== No. 13 (A career high for Samsonova, even though she lost in the first round in Doha. She scraped through the longest match on the WTA so far this year in the first round of Dubai Sunday against poor Paula Badosa).
Victoria Azarenka (BLR): No. 17 ========== No. 14 (There was a fair bit of movement in the 13-20 area of the WTA rankings this week, and Azarenka’s second-round effort in Doha moves her up three spots).
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS): No. 18 ========== No. 16 (Alexandrova also lost in the second round, but she moves up to a career high with it).
Kamilla Rakhimova (RUS): No. 114 ========== No. 97 (Rakhimova is back into the top 100 after winning the $60K ITF in Irapuato, Mexico last week).
Karolina Muchova (CZE): No. 123 ========== No. 112 (The No. 22 protected ranking feels like it’s going to run out fairly soon, but Muchova’s return from injury in 2022 is … pretty gradual. She does add some by winning a round in Doha last week).
Clara Tauson (DEN): No. 128 ========== No. 113 (Another one who fell off the grid for awhile because of injury, the former No. 33, still just 20, wins the Altenkirchen ITF and makes a nice jump).
Sofia Kenin (USA): No. 210 ========== No. 176 (The former Australian Open champion has used her protected No. 4 ranking, and has gotten a ton of wild cards. But it’s been a tough slog back. She lost in the second round of Doha, and is already out in the first round in Dubai. Still, that was worth 34 spots in the rankings as she’s back inside the top 200).
Tereza Smitkova (CZE): No. 442 ========== No. 378 (The former No. 57 is playing low-level ITFs in the U.K., and made a final in Bath to help her ranking a little bit).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Ons Jabeur (TUN): No. 3 ========== No. 4 (Jabeur had to opt out of the Middle East swing – which, as a Muslim woman, is a big time of the year for her – because of a “minor surgery). Pegula’s final puts her over the Tunisian and into the No. 3 spot).
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT): No. 14 ========== No. 20 (Ostapenko won Dubai a year ago, and so those 470 points fall off this week. She reached the semifinals of Doha the following week, which was the 1000 and was worth another 350 points. So she has some pressure. On the plus side, she lost her openers at both Indian Wells and Miami a year ago. There there is room to get things back on track when she hits the U.S.)
Jil Teichmann (SUI): No. 28 ========== No. 32 (Teichmann had to play the qualifying in the stacked Doha field last week, and lost in the second round. A year ago in Dubai she went from the qualifying to the quarters, beating Mertens and Svitolina and losing 6-4 in the third to Kudermetova).
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE): No. 74 ========== No. 103 (The Czech lefty’s “real” ranking drops outside the top 100, although she has a protected No. 32 she can use. She drops the points from going from the qualifying to the semifinals in Dubai, where she gave Kudermetova a walkover. She played just a few matches after that before going off on the DL for six months. So she should have plenty of opportunities through the summer to make it up).
Dayana Yastremska (UKR): No. 99 ========== No. 122 (Yastremska … after she lost in the Doha qualifying. On the plus side, she looked impressive in getting through Dubai qualifying on the weekend, so hopefully she can make a little run. This was a very productive part of the season a year ago, when she jumped about 45 spots by going from the qualifying to the quarters in Dubai, and the all the way to the final in Lyon – right as the war in Ukraine was breaking, and she was fleeing the country and got a wild card there. It must be a tough period to relive, too).
Brenda Fruhvirtova (CZE): No. 144 ========== No. 160 (The 15-year-old drops some points from her lower-level success in 2022. But healthily, seems to be on a bit of a tournament break these days as she hasn’t played since the Australian Open).
Greet Minnen (BEL): No. 157 ========== No. 171 (Minnen got to the Altenkirchen final, and won the doubles. But still ends up in a net negative because she won that tournament a year ago. she got to another final the following week, at another $60K. So still has some work to even if she’s done well at the ITF level since coming back from a first-round qualifying loss in Melbourne).
Elina Svitolina (UKR): No. 379 ========== No. 510 (The 28-year-old has bigger fish to fry at the moment. So there’s been no word on whether she actually plans to return from maternity leave and get back to it on Tour).