It hadn’t been a good summer for American Madison Keys.
Until it was.
The 24-year-old American stormed back into the top 10 (where it’s hard to argue she doesn’t consistently belong) with an unexpected title in Cincinnati.
Keys, the No. 16 seed, was almost out in the first round against another player too far down in the rankings for her talent, Garbiñe Muguruza. She got past Simona Halep. And then she ran through Venus Williams.
And in the final against Svetlana Kuznetsova, Keys overcame deficits in both sets to prevail, and take the title.
Just the week before, Keys had lost 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 to Donna Vekic in the first round of Toronto. And the week before that, she had lost in straight sets to American teenager Hailey Baptiste, a hometown wild card at the Citi Open in D.C.
Keys leaps from No. 29 to No. 13 in the race for the year-end finals in Shenzhen.
Meanwhile, Naomi Osaka retains the No. 1 spot she got back after Toronto. She’s 105 points ahead of Ashleigh Barty, and so it will play out once again in New York, as Osaka has a title – and 2,000 points – to defend.
ON THE UPSWING
Elina Svitolina (UKR): No. 7 ==========> No. 5 (Svitolina only won one match in Cincinnati. But it was enough to make a jump in a crowded little section of the rankings).
Madison Keys (USA): No. 18 ==========> No. 10 (Keys leaps into the top 10, and ahead of her good pal Sloane Stephens to become the No. 2 American. With Venus Williams defending finalist’s points in New York, there could be a changing of the guard by mid-September).
Sofia Kenin (USA): No. 22 ==========> No. 20 (The underestimated American keeps running, keeps putting the ball in the court – and now is into the top 20 for the first time).
Iga Swiatek (POL): No. 55 ==========> No. 49 (The 18-year-old becomes the fourth teenager in the top 50 after Bianca Andreescu, Amanda Anisimova and Dayana Yastremska).
Venus Williams (USA): No. 65==========> No. 52 (The 39-year-old makes a leap in the rankings after a Cincinnati effort that seemed to come out of nowhere. But she’s still a long way from where she probably should be).
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS): No. 153 ==========> No. 62 (What a leap – 91 spots – for the former US Open champion. At 34, she has returned from a number of injuries to get herself back in the conversation. And if she barely squeezed into the US Open on a protected ranking of No. 102, she won’t have to do that any more).
Jennifer Brady (USA): No. 70 ==========> No. 65 (The 24-year-old American with a lot of upside makes a jump this week).
Maria Sharapova (RUS): No. 97 ==========> No. 87 (Winning even one match, as Sharapova did in Cincinnati, will help her ranking at this point. But it’s still a shocker to see those numbers next to her name).
Heather Watson (GBR): No. 110 ==========> No. 101 (A good result in Vancouver helps Watson, who had to fly across the continent to play the US Open qualifying).
Timea Babos (HUN): No. 125 ==========> No. 112 (Babos, coached by former Bouchard coach Michael Joyce, beat her in the first round of the Vancouver ITF and made a nice run. She, too, has to play US Open qualifying this week).
Leylah Fernandez (CAN): No. 277 ==========> No. 232 (Another career high for the 16-year-old Canadian, who reached the semifinals at the $100K ITF in Vancouver. A month ago, she was at No. 373).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Kiki Bertens (NED): No. 5 ==========> No. 7 (Bertens lost to Venus in her Cincy opener, after beating four top-eight players a year ago to win the title. She has a fair few points to defend this fall, but you’d have to think she can do better than her third-round result at the US Open to kick it off).
Lesia Tsurenko (UKR): No. 35 ==========> No. 40 (The Ukrainian player is dealing with elbow trouble).
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA): No. 50 ==========> No. 53 (The former top 10 player – and her entire family – are out of the top 50. The “Sascha” effect seems to not quite be felt as yet).
Camila Giorgi (ITA): No. 51 ==========> No. 58
Alizé Cornet (FRA): No. 60 ==========> No. 64 (It’s been a lacklustre season for the 29-year-old from France, who announced this week that she had parted ways with coach Pierre Bouteyre).
Tatjana Maria (GER): No. 68 ==========> No. 79
Misaki Doi (JPN): No. 82 ==========> No. 110
Eugenie Bouchard (CAN): No. 114 ==========> No. 119 (It’s all going sideways for the former No. 5, whose losing streak now stands at 11 matches. The 25-year-old has 110 points to defend at the US Open, where she had to play qualifying a year ago. This year, she squeezed into the main draw just in time. Another week, and she would have had to do the same thing this year. She lost on Friday, in the first round of the Bronx Open qualifying).
Rebecca Marino (CAN): No. 181 ==========> No. 191 (The Canadian is sidelined by plantar fasciitis, and had to pull out of the US Open qualifying).