It was a quiet week on the WTA Tour, with only two small international-level events on tap.
One, in Tianjin, was a mass of withdrawals and upsets. But it was available on the WTA’s streaming service.
The other, in Linz, Austria, also had its fair share of pullouts. But one of those (Maria Sakkari) allowed 15-year-old Coco Gauff to enter the main draw as a lucky loser. But there was no WTA.TV, and no Tennis Channel until the network stepped up and broadcast the final.
And Gauff won the tournament – her first, but not last, on Tour in just her fifth event.
It’s all going to begin in earnest now for the young girl, who already has plenty of pressure on her shoulders.
The hype will amp up some more. Already, the word “superstar” is being thrown about.
Tennis has a new superstar 👑
— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) October 13, 2019
Gauff immediately headed for Luxembourg, where a similar event (but with a weaker cutoff, as Gauff already is in the main draw) takes place next week.
Meanwhile, it’s the final week for those aiming to qualify for the year-end championships in Shenzhen, China.
There are no rankings changes in the top 20, as only two top-20 players played last week.
ON THE UPSWING
Karolina Muchova (CZE): No. 37 ========> No. 35 (Idle last week, Muchova reaches a career high and has Kuznetsova in the first round of Moscow).
Rebecca Peterson (SWE): No. 59 ========> No. 44 (The Swede won Tiajin – indoors, because of rain – and reaches a career high ranking).
Ons Jabeur (TUN): No. 61 ========> No. 53 (Jabeur reached the Tianjin semis, and is just two off her career high).
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT): No. 72 ========> No. 63 (An opportunity lost in the Linz final against Gauff. But a good week with Marion Bartoli in her corner).
Cori Gauff (USA): No. 110 ========> No. 71 (The 15-year-old American wins her first WTA Tour event, going from losing in the qualifying to Tamara Korpatsch to winning the title. She has assured her spot in the Australian Open in January).
Heather Watson (GBR): No. 125 ========> No. 88 (The 27-year-old Brit has hovered around the 100 mark a lot of the season. But her finals effort in Tianjin should put her straight into Melbourne).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Dayana Yastremska (UKR): No. 23 ========> No. 28 (Yastremska won the Hong Kong event a year ago, and reached the quarters this year in Tianjin. She has semifinal points to defend this week in Luxembourg, but is playing the Premier in Moscow and gets Daria Kasatkina in the first round).
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS): No. 35========> No. 38 (The Russian reaches the semis in Linz this week. But she went from the qualifying to the final a year ago).
Caroline Garcia (FRA): No. 31 ========> No. 39 (Another drop for Garcia, who lost in the second round in Tianjin, won the title a year ago without dropping a set. She began the season No. 4).
Camila Giorgi (ITA): No. 63 ========> No. 92 (Giorgi has been in and out of the lineup this year – so to speak. But the 2018 Linz champion didn’t play and as a result, her ranking takes a tumble).
Timea Bacsinszky (SUI): No. 101 ========> No. 129 (Bacsinszky is looking at the Oz Open qualies, as she’s not playing this week, either. Bacinszky is on a seven-match losing streak that began in Bol, Croatia in early June and ran to Seoul in mid-September, which was the last tournament she played).
Eugenie Bouchard (CAN): No. 149 ========> No. 152 (The painful blow will come this week, as her points from last year in Luxembourg fall off and she will find herself well outside the top 200).
Daria Gavrilova (AUS): No. 167 ========> No. 193 (The weekly “ouch” for the Russian Aussie).
Katie Boulter (GBR): No. 260 ========> No. 317 (The Brit, who hit No. 82, is feeling the effects of her long absence due to a back injury).
THE ROAD TO SHENZHEN
Seven are in with the official announcement of defending champion Elina Svitolina’s qualification. One remains.
Serena Williams (who posted a little video of herself on the practice court just to tease everyone), is not playing this week.
Here are the contenders.
Bertens and Bencic are the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds at the Moscow Premier tournament this week.
They have first-round byes.
The points on availability in Moscow are at right.
It would have been more dramatic had Bertens and Bencic been in separate halves. But the upshot is that if Bencic makes the Moscow final – or wins it – she sends Bertens home.
They could meet in the semis, which would make that a heck of a match.
Bencic had even been willing to play the qualifying in Moscow, which is nice work. She had been given a wild card. But Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anastasia Potapova got in with their own rankings, freeing up a wild card.
Meanwhile, for the second-tier final in Zhuhai, five players have been announced: Johanna Konta, Aryna Sabalenka, Sofia Kenin, Madison Keys and Petra Martic.
There are six spots remaining, plus a wild card. So it’s hard to know who will go.
Konta hasn’t played since the US Open because of a knee injury and missed the entire Asian swing. So she feels somewhat … doubtful for Zhuhai.
The Brit was to return this week in Moscow, but didn’t make the date. Tough one, as there is a lot of cash available in that end-of-season event.