There’s a week’s stagger in the rankings this year, with the Australian Open starting about as early as it could in 2019 – and about as late as it could in 2020.
So that means that the points for last week’s tournaments (Auckland, Brisbane), fell off the previous week and whatever the players did last week is added on this week – just as whatever they did in Sydney and Hobart a year ago falls off the computer.
As a concrete example, Canadian Genie Bouchard went from No. 215 down to No. 262 last Monday when her 2019 Auckland quarterfinal fell off. And then she jumped back to No. 211 Monday when this year’s matching quarterfinal effort was added back on.
So there were a few changes, even in the top 10 in the rankings, that had small effects when the Australian Open draws are made Thursday. That assumes all the top players play, of course.
For example, Sloane Stephens dropped from No. 24 to No. 25. Practically, that means that her potential third-round opponent would be in the top eight, rather than in the 9-16 ranking bracket.
The reverse is true for Amanda Anisimova, who moves from No. 25 up to No. 22 and gets a better-looking third-round matchup.
Barbora Strycova and Yulia Putintseva bumped themselves just out of the top 32, and therefore may not be seeded.
ON THE UPSWING
Naomi Osaka (JPN): No. 4 =========> No. 3 (Osaka edges past Simona Halep by reaching the Brisbane semifinals. She spent the last three months of 2019 at that spot).
Belinda Bencic (SUI): No. 8 =========> No. 7 (Despite a first-round loss in Shenzhen, Bencic ties her career-best ranking first reached in Feb. 2016).
Serena Williams (USA): No. 10 =========> No. 9 (A win at the International-level tournament in Auckland, her first title in several years, moves her up one spot).
Madison Keys (USA): No. 13 =========> No. 11 (The American made the Brisbane final).
Amanda Anisimova (USA): No. 25 =========> No. 22 (The 18-year-old looked her age in her first meeting with Serena Williams in Auckland. Still, she moves up and helps herself in the draw brackets. She’s one off her career best).
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS): No. 34 =========> No. 26 (The rising Russian, who is 25, drops only one set to win the Shenzhen Open as the No. 5 seed. She hits a career high and earns a seed at the Australian Open).
Elena Rybakina (KAZ): No. 36 =========> No. 30 (A finalist in Shenzhen, the 20-year-old from Kazakhstan jumps into a seeded position, and takes over from Yulia Putintseva as the No. 1 player in her country).
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN): No. 39 =========> No. 35 (A semifinal effort in singles and the doubles final in Auckland. But Wozniacki pulled out of her planned exhibition matches at Kooyong this week).
Jennifer Brady (USA): No. 53=========> No. 49 (The American, who arrived in Australia as fit and trim as we’ve ever seen her, jumps into the top 50 – and a career high – for the first time. Brady qualified, then beat MAria Sharapova and Ashleigh Barty in Brisbane before losing to Petra Kvitova).
Jessica Pegula (USA): No. 82=========> No. 64 (A fine effort to get to the Auckland final is rewarded).
Maria Sharapova (RUS): No. 147 =========> No. 145 (She doesn’t need to worry about her ranking as much as she does about trying to stay healthy on court).
Shelby Rogers (USA): No. 174 =========> No. 155 (The protected ranking in the 80s is expiring soon, so Rogers will have to play a lot more qualifying and perhaps some smaller events to keep building it back up).
Leylah Annie Fernandez (CAN): No. 209 =========> No. 206 (A career high as the 17-year-old Canadian plays in her first Slam qualifying this week in Melbourne).
Eugenie Bouchard (CAN): No. 262 =========> No. 211 (Bouchard earned back the ranking points she lost last week, by defending her quarterfinal in Auckland. She will play the Aussie Open qualies this week for the first time since 2013).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Simona Halep (ROU): No. 3=========> No. 4 (Halep’s seeding prospects won’t be affected by the 3-4 flip).
Kiki Bertens (NED): No. 9 =========> No. 10 (A semifinalist in Sydney a year ago, Bertens won’t have a chance to defend those points in Adelaide because she pulled out before the tournament started with an Achilles injury).
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ): No. 32 =========> No. 37 (She’s no longer the No. 1 player in her country, having lost that distinction to the younger Elena Rybakina).
Kirsten Flipkens (BEL): No. 72 =========> No. 79
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR): No. 69 =========> No. 99 (The 25-year-old qualified and made the semis in Sydney a year ago, so those points drop off. And a loss Monday to Danielle Collins in Adelaide means she can’t earn them back. To add insult to injury: it appears that after several years of wearing Lotto clothes (although we don’t know the terms of her deal), she is completely brandless on the court).
Priscilla Hon (AUS): No. 122 =========> No. 139
Timea Bacsinszky (SUI): No. 137 =========> No. 178 (The 30-year-old has played just two tournaments – two matches, with the total games won at five – since last July. She went to Seoul in September and lost to Kristie Ahn 6-0, 6-0).
Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK): No. 133=========> No. 202 (Schmiedlova has a protected ranking around No. 130 that’s kicking in now that she’s finally back from injury. She made the final in Hobart a year ago).
Daria Lopatetska (UKR): No. 268 =========> No. 332 (The 16-year-old, who got some notoriety by looking for donations to fund a knee surgery (countrywoman Elina Svitolina ended up paying for it), still made the Australian Open qualifying with a special ranking of No. 228. She played her first match since last May, two weeks ago at a $25K in Hong Kong (where she lost to former top-40 player Zarina Diyas. At No. 73, Diyas really has no business playing that level of event. But that’s another story).