The week after a major is typically quiet time, as most of the top players take a breather.
But it’s also an opportunity for other players to make moves in the rankings – or try to defend the (sometimes surprising?) points they earned the previous year.
As well, in this particular case, there was a Premier-level event in St. Petersburg, Russia that drew a high-level and very interesting field.
So there were definitely some results and moves worth noting, most especially 34-year-old Vera Zvonareva.
And a lot of new career bests were reached.
Among them are Ajla Tomljanovic, Donna Vekic, Tamara Zidansek, Jessica Pegula and Hua Hin champion Dayana Yastremska.
ON THE UPSWING
Aryna Sabalenka (BLR): No. 10 ———-> No. 9
Donna Vekic (CRO): No. 30 ———-> No. 25 (At 22, Vekic continues to gradually establish herself as a solid player as she reaches another career high after the St. Petersburg final. She was a semifinalist in Brisbane as well. Next move is another second-week effort at a Slam, as she did last year at Wimbledon).
Maria Sharapova (RUS): No. 29 ———-> No. 27 (Sharapova won a match in St. Petersburg and earned two spots in the rankings. But she withdrew from the tournament because of her ongoing shoulder woes. She also retired dring her quarterfinal match in Shenzhen to open the season. And as she turns 32 in a few months, that’s never a good sign.
Dayana Yastremska (UKR): No. 47 ———-> No. 34 (The 18-year-old won her second WTA Tour title in the last four months, beating Ajla Tomljanovic in the final of Hua Hin, Thailand. She’s at a career high, and everyone ranked ahead of her is at least two years older. But there was some drama …
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS): No. 49 ———-> No. 41 (The Aussie couldn’t close the deal for the fourth straight time in a Tour final. Nearly four years ago, she reached her (then) best ranking of No. 47. So after a four-year fight back up the ladder after shoulder surgery – which, as we’ve seen, often is unsuccessful for tennis player – the comeback can be considered more than complete.
Victoria Azarenka (BLR): No. 51 ———-> No. 48 (She’s back in the top 50 for the first time since March 20, 2017, while she was still on maternity leave. After that, her points from winning the Miami Open in 2016 dropped, and she’s been fighting her way back since returning in June 2017. Just winning one match in St. Petersburg gave her a jump. The problem is that she’s unseeded, and therefore runs into tough early rounds that stop her momentum).
Tamara Zidansek (SLO): No. 74 ———-> No. 63 (The unheralded 21-year-old from Slovenia reaches a career high after a semifinal in Hua Hin. The WTA should probably find a photo of her).
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS): No. 78 ———-> No. 65 (The 24-year-old Russian, who lists Prague as her residence, went from the qualifying to the quarters in St. Petersburg and reached a career high.
Vera Zvonareva (RUS): No. 97 ———-> No. 76 (So many are rooting for the former No. 2, now 34, as she has made a far less high-profile comeback from motherhood than other former top players. Zvonareva barely missed making the main draw in Australia but, as the No. 1 seed in the qualifying fell to Aussie wild card Astra Sharma. Her wild card run to the semifinals in St. Petersburg gives her the best ranking she’s had since … October 2012.
Jessica Pegula (USA): No. 104 ———-> No. 93 (Pegula kicked off her 2019 season with a title in Newport Beach and a final in Midland. The American has come through a number of serious injuries and now breaks into the top 100 for the first time with a career-high ranking).
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS): No. 108 ———-> No. 98 (A career high as the 21-year-old breaks into the top 100 for the first time. She also reached a career high of No. 55 in doubles last week).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN): No. 9 ———-> No. 10 (Wozniacki was a semifinalist in St. Petersburg last year, fresh off her breakthrough Slam win at the Australian Open. She was a semifinalist in Doha as well as she began 2018 in fine form. She has pulled out Denmark’s Fed Cup zonals this week.
Daria Kasatkina (RUS): No. 12 ———-> No. 14 (Kasatkina’s 2019 has been disastrous so far. She still hasn’t won a match, in four tournament. But even with the 55 points she earned in St. Petersburg with a bye and a walkover before she lost to Zvonareva, she drops. She was a semfinalist a year ago.
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK): No. 26 ———-> No. 30
Katerina Siniakova (CZE): No. 38 ———-> No. 44 (A first-round loss to qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure in St. Petersburg this year; a quarterfinal to defend meant losing ground. She’s got Fed Cup this week).
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA): No. 44 ———-> No. 64 (Her 2018 St. Petersburg final points are gone after she lost a wacky 6-1, 0-6, 6-0 first-round match to Jelena Ostapenko. And the former top-10 player’s career seems to sort of be hanging in purgatory as she continues to be coached by her family. It seems the opposition is catching up and passing her. At 25, it’s time to make a move.
Eugenie Bouchard (CAN): No. 76 ———-> No. 80
Madison Brengle (USA): No. 80 ———-> No. 97
Timea Babos (HUN): No. 65 ———-> No. 100 (Babos retired down 0-6, 1-3 in the first round of the Hua Hin tournament, after winning the event in Thailand in the same week a year ago. While doubles is going great (she’s ranked No. 3 and reached the Australian Open final with Kristina Mladenovic), she’s a far, far better singles player than No. 100 in the world.
Kateryna Kozlova (UKR): No. 95 ———-> No. 126
Marta Kostyuk (UKR): No. 155 ———-> No. 195 (The precocious 16-year-old, who basically closed the door on the juniors when she was just 15, went from No. 523 to No. 185 a year ago with some great play at the ITF level and a run from the qualifying to the third round in Australia. She was at a career high No. 116 a month ago. But she lost in the final round of Australian Open qualifying and didn’t defend her result in Burnie. The computer is unforgiving).