A Premier 5 had most of the best. And an International-level tournament offered a big opportunity for a lot of players to pick off a title – or at least earn some valuable WTA ranking points.
And it played out that way, as Aryna Sabalenka won in Doha. And Brit Heather Watson, a former top-40 player who has struggled in recent years to make sure her ranking stayed inside the top 100, took Acapulco.
But the darlings of the week were a pair of lesser-known players
Mexico’s Renata Zarazua made the women’s portion of the Acapulco event a success as her countrymen and women came out in droves to cheer her on.
And 17-year-old Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez made a wondrous run.
Fernandez, who received a wild card into the qualifying, made a run all the way to the final. She ran out of gas against Watson, but not before saving nine match points.
The still-idle Bianca Andreescu remains at No. 4. But with Indian Wells fast approaching and no signs of (tennis) life from the defending champion, she’s got Kiki Bertens, Elina Svitolina and Belinda Bencic within 550 points of her on the list.
ON THE UPSWING
Aryna Sabalenka (BLR): No. 13 ==========> No. 11 (The Doha champion is back on the right track and just 10 points behind Naomi Osaka for the No. 10 spot).
Barbora Strycova (CZE): No. 34 ==========> No. 31 (A singles bump – and she and Hsieh Su-Wei won the Dubai-Doha Double in … doubles as Hsieh returns to world No. 1 in that category).
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS): No. 46 ==========> No. 32 (The 34-year-old started the season late, but made a nice run to the semifinals in Doha).
Saisai Zheng (CHN): No. 37 ==========> No. 34 (A career high for the 26-year-old from China).
Ons Jabeur (TUN): No. 44 ==========> No. 39 (The Tunisian player’s 2020 rise continues into the top 40, and a career high. She made the quarterfinals in Doha as a wild card).
Heather Watson (GBR): No. 69 ==========> No. 49 (The Acapulco champion is back to the top 50 for the first time since June 2016 (she hit No. 50 for one week) and back inside the top 50 for the first time since June 2015).
Bernarda Pera (USA): No. 63 ==========> No. 59 (The 25-year-old Croatian-American quietly reaches a career high).
Patricia Maria Tig (ROU): No. 81 ==========> No. 80 (Only one spot – but a big victory for the Romanian, who had no ranking at all last April after returning from maternity leave. To come back – and play better than she did before, is a testament to perseverance).
Camila Giorgi (ITA): No. 100 ==========> No. 94 (She lost in in the second round of Doha qualifying. Still, she moves up six spots).
Xiyu Wang (CHN): No. 127 ==========> No. 106 (Her almost namesake, Xinyu Wang, has gotten more attention and more corporate support. But the 18-year-old leaps to a new career best after qualifying and reaching the semis in Acapulco).
Leylah Annie Fernandez (CAN): No. 190 ==========> No. 126 (The 17-year-old Canadian went from a qualifying wild card to the Acapulco final before running out of legs against Watson. The new career high will help her get into higher-level tournaments going forward. She’s in Monterrey this week as a special exempt).
Sara Errani (ITA): No. 185 ==========> No. 165 (The service yips persist. But Errani, a former Acapulco champion, got a wild card into the qualifying and won a round – somehow).
Renata Zarazua (MEX): No. 270 ==========> No. 187 (A jump of 82 spots for Mexican wild card Zarazua, who thrilled her home-country fans during her run to the semifinals in Acapulco last week).
Clara Tauson (DEN): No. 266 ==========> No. 217 (The 17-year-old Dane who defeated Fernandez in the 2019 Australian Open girls’ final is taking a more winding route. But a win at an ITF tournament in Glasgow propels her to a career high).
Vera Zvonareva (RUS): No. 424 ==========> No. 319 (She’s playing on an injury-protected ranking inside the top 80, so this is her real ranking. But making the second round in Doha helped improve that status. She’s playing the Indian Wells Challenger this week).
Katie Volynets (USA): No. 384 ==========> No. 341 (The 18-year-old American passed on going the college route. She defeated Shelby Rogers in the first round of Acapulco as a wild card).
Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR): No. 494 ==========> No. 404 (Another player working with a protected ranking, the 33-year-old mom of two reached the second round of singles in Acapulco, and reached the doubles final with Canadian Sharon Fichman).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Sloane Stephens (USA): No. 35 ==========> No. 37 (The Grand Slam champion is watching her ranking droop, and took a wild card into Monterrey this week).
Victoria Azarenka (BLR): No. 51 ==========> No. 56 (A long winter in court meant she was off the court. But it has led to her custody issues being resolved, by and large. The former No. 1 finally makes her 2020 debut this week in Monterrey. And you’d think she’d want to make sure she can qualify for the Olympics).
Yafan Wang (CHN): No. 56 ==========> No. 84 (The Chinese player saw her points from last year’s run in Acapulco drop; she lost in the first round this year).
Viktorija Golubic (SUI): No. 92 ==========> No. 119 (Last year’s points drop off, and Golubic drops out of the top 100 after losing in the first round of Doha qualifying).
Nicole Gibbs (USA): No. 128 ==========> No. 146
Jessika Ponchet (FRA): No. 208 ==========> No. 246
Beatrice Haddad Maia (BRA): No. 145==========> No. 281 (She’s due to return from her doping suspension on May 22. In the meantime, the ranking continues to drop as the Acapulco points fall off).
Timea Bacsinszky (SUI): No. 275==========> No. 286 (She was on the Swiss Fed Cup team, but didn’t play. But she’s not officially retired. She’s sort of in purgatory).
After taking the back-to-back titles in Dubai and Doha, Hsieh Su-Wei retakes the No. 1 spot, with 90 more points (and two more tournaments) than her partner, Barbora Strycova.
Strycova also leaps over Kristina Mladenovic, and into the No. 2 spot.
Jelena Ostapenko, who reached the Doha final with Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski (steady at No. 7), rises six spots to No. 17. That’s a career high for her.
Another Canadian, Sharon Fichman, is approaching the top 50. She gains five spots to rise to No. 51. She and Kateryna Bondarenko, who reached the Acapulco final, team up again in Monterrey this week.
The Race to Shenzhen
Sabalenka leaps in to the race to Shenzhen with her effort in Doha. Although – this race is basically like a basketball score after the first quarter; it’s unlikely to look like this in October.