This Week's WTA Rankings: Angelique Kerber Increases Lead at No. 1, Dominika Cibulkova Qualifies for Singapore - UBITENNIS
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This Week’s WTA Rankings: Angelique Kerber Increases Lead at No. 1, Dominika Cibulkova Qualifies for Singapore

What would usually be a quiet week with WTA International events in Linz, Tianjin, and Hong Kong was spiced up by the likes of Angelique Kerber, Garbine Muguruza or Agnieszka Radwanska being in play, and the tight Race for Singapore coming to a conclusion.

Jakub Bobro

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Although ATP was the main story of the week with the Masters 1000 in Shanghai, WTA still brought entertaining matches from Linz, Tianjin, and Hong Kong. It also brought a lot of question marks about the players’ fitness, with Agnieszka Radwanska giving a walkover in the quarterfinals after losing only 5 games combined in her first two matches, Muguruza retiring in the final set of her semifinal match, Kerber losing very easily to Daria Gavrilova. Despite that, Kerber’s lead as No. 1 was increased to 1,260 points over No. 2 Serena Williams, who is 1,000 points ahead of No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska. Simona Halep is stable at No. 4, but less than a 1,000 points separates No. 5 Karolina Pliskova and No. 9 Johanna Konta, so the year-end championships can shake up this lower part of Top 10 a lot.

 

This week’s title winners were mostly surprising, with Dominika Cibulkova taking Linz, thus qualifiying for Singapore Caroline Wozniacki won Hong Kong as the No. 5 seed, getting back to Top 20, and Peng Shuai won Tianjin as a wild card, receiving 2 walkovers on her way to the title.

Movers of the Week

The ranking changes inside the Top 100 have been quite hostile this week, so this Mover of the Week is outside the Top 100, but definitely deserves this title. Peng Shuai moved up 74 spaces from No. 182 to No. 108 after winning the WTA International in Tianjin, beating Alison Riske 7-6(3) 6-2 in the finals. This is Peng’s best result since her famous semifinal run at the 2014 US Open, and her first WTA title in her career. This sets up Peng Shuai well for a Top 100 comeback in the 2017 season.

WTA Rankings

These are the best 20 female players as of October 17th 2016, two weeks before the end of the 2016 WTA season:

  1. Angelique Kerber (GER) – 8,310
  2. Serena Williams (USA) – 7,050
  3. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) – 6,050
  4. Simona Halep (ROU) – 5,097
  5. Karolina Pliskova (CZE) – 4,440
  6. Garbine Muguruza (ESP) – 4,425
  7. Madison Keys (USA) – 3,797
  8. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) – 3,625
  9. Johanna Konta (GBR) – 3,455
  10. Petra Kvitova (CZE) – 3,390
  11. Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) – 3,230
  12. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) – 3,180
  13. Victoria Azarenka (BLR) – 3,061
  14. Venus Williams (USA) – 2,940
  15. Elina Svitolina (UKR) – 2,511
  16. Roberta Vinci (ITA) – 2,290
  17. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) – 2,220
  18. Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) – 2,188
  19. Elena Vesnina (RUS) – 2,093
  20. Samantha Stosur (AUS) – 2,090

Race to Singapore Rankings

The Top 8 players in the rankings play the year-end championship in Singapore, which starts on October 23rd. Remember that Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka already confirmed that they will not play any more events this year, so they are not included in these rankings. There is also WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, which is contested by players between No. 9 and No. 19, and one wild card, which has already announced to be Shuai Zhang, currently No. 22 in the Race.

  1. Angelique Kerber (GER) – 8,000 – Qualified
  2. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) – 4,975 – Qualified
  3. Simona Halep (ROU) – 4,728 – Qualified
  4. Karolina Pliskova (CZE) – 4,100 – Qualified
  5. Garbine Muguruza (ESP) – 3,737 – Qualified
  6. Madison Keys (USA) – 3,637 – Qualified
  7. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) – 3,625 – Qualified
  8. Johanna Konta (GBR) – 3,455 – (Plays Moscow, still in contention for Singapore, Qualified for Zhuhai)
  9. Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) – 3,170 – (Plays Moscow, still in contention for Singapore, Qualified for Zhuhai)
  10. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) – 3,080 – (Plays Moscow, still in contention for Singapore, Qualified for Zhuhai)
  11. Petra Kvitova (CZE) – 2,770 – Qualified for Zhuhai
  12. Elina Svitolina (UKR) – 2,272 – Qualified for Zhuhai
  13. Venus Williams (USA) – 2,241 – Qualified for Zhuhai
  14. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) – 2,241 – Qualified for Zhuhai
  15. Roberta Vinci (ITA) – 2,190 – Qualified for Zhuhai
  16. Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) – 2,188 – Qualified for Zhuhai
  17. Elena Vesnina (RUS) – 2,093 – In contention for Zhuhai
  18. Samantha Stosur (AUS) – 2,090 – In contention for Zhuhai
  19. Barbora Strycova (CZE) – 2,070 – In contention for Zhuhai
  20. Kiki Bertens (NED) – 1,817 – In contention for Zhuhai

In this last week before the year-end championship, there is a WTA Premier in Moscow, where the race for the final spot in Singapore between Johanna Konta, Carla Suarez Navarro and Svetlana Kuznetsova will conclude, with one of the trio going to Singapore, and the other two being the favorites in Zhuhai. There is also a WTA International in Luxembourg, but points from there will not count into the Race for Singapore, only Zhuhai.

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Tereza Martincova and Belinda Bencic reach the quarter final in Ostrava

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Czech wildcard Tereza Martincova upset Roland Garros Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (8-6) after 2 hours and 19 minutes to advance to the quarter finals at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. 

 

Martincova claimed her third top 20 win of her career and reached her second quarter final on home soil this season after finishing fourth in Prague. 

Pavlyuchenkova earned the first break to take a 4-3 lead and served for the first set in the 10th game, but she never reached a set point. The Russian player came just two points away from winning the first set at 5-4 30-15, but Martincova won four consecutive points before winning the tie-break 7-5. 

Martincova dropped just eight points in the first six games of the second set. The Czech player fended off two break points to consolidate her lead for 2-0. She raced out to a 7-6 (7-5) 5-1 lead, but Pavlyuchenkova saved two match points to hold serve forcing Martincova to serve for the match. Martincova dropped four consecutive points. Pavlyuchenkova got another break, when Martincova was serving for the match for the third time at 6-5. Martincova went up a 4-1 lead in the tie-break, but Pavlyuchenkova drew level to 4-4 before saving a third match point. Martincova won the final two points to claim the tie-break 8-6. 

Martincova set up a quarter final match against Maria Sakkari, who beat last week’s Luxembourg finalist Jelena Ostapenko. 

This year’s Olympic champion Belinda Bencic cruised to a 6-2 6-3 win over Sara Sorribes Tormo in just 88 minutes. Bencic claimed her 15th win in her last 18 matches. Bencic broke six times and reeled off eight consecutive games from 2-2 in the first set to cruise through to a a straight-set win. Sorribes Tormo saved a break point to win her first game for 1-4 and pulled one break back in the sixth game, but Bencic sealed the win with her third break in the ninth game. “I think I prepared well for this match tactically, and also mentally, because it’s very tough. You have to win the point many times against her, especially on this surface, where it’s very slow. I am happy that I stayed disciplined for the whole match”, said Bencic. 

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Naomi Osaka Withdraws From Indian Wells, Unclear If She Will Play Again This Year

There is no official word but it looking increasingly likly that the world No.8 might have pulled the plug on her 2021 season.

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Japan’s Naomi Osaka has officially withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells just weeks after saying she will take a break from the sport due to personal reasons.

 

The former world No.1 hadn’t played a match since her loss to Leylah Fernandez in the third round of the US Open. Speaking to reporters in New York, Osaka said she didn’t know when she would play another match on the Tour. Earlier this year she opened up about her mental health struggles after revealing she has been suffering from social anxiety and depression. Osaka also took time away from the sport during the summer after pulling out of the French Open before deciding to skip Wimbledon.

“This is very hard to articulate. Basically I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. Sorry,” she said following her loss to Fernandez.
“I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while. How do I go around saying this? I feel like for me recently when I win I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal. I didn’t really want to cry.”

Osaka’s withdrawal from Indian Wells was confirmed by the tournament who published an announcement on social media. Although they didn’t specify what reason she used to withdraw from the tournament which is one of the biggest events outside of the Grand Slams in terms of ranking points and prize money on offer.

It was Indian Wells where Osaka won her first prestigious title back in 2018 after defeating Daria Kasatkina in straight sets. The following year she was the top seed in the draw but lost to Belinda Bencic in the fourth round.

There has been no official comment from Osaka or her team about Indian Wells and if she will play again this season. Although it looks increasingly unlikely. She is in with a chance of qualifying for the WTA Finals in November but even if she does make the cut it is unclear if she will attend the event which has been relocated from China to Mexico.

This year Indian Wells will get underway on October 4th which is more than six months later than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Simona Halep Ends Six-Year Collaboration With Coach Cahill

One of the longest coaching partnerships on the WTA Tour has come to an end.

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Former world No.1 Simona Halep is on the lookout for a new coach after unexpectedly announcing her split from Darren Cahill on Wednesday.

 

The two-time Grand Slam champion has been working with the Australian mentor for most of the time since 2015. There was a brief period where Cahill stepped away from his duties to spend more time with his family before later returning. Under his guidance, the Romanian reached the top of the world rankings and featured in the final of three major tournaments, winning two of those.

“After six wonderful years working together, Darren Cahill and I have decided that it’s time to end our working relationship,” Halep wrote on social media. “Thank you D for everything, for making me a better tennis player and a better person.”

55-year-old Cahill is a former player himself who has also worked with a series of top players prior to Halep. In the past, he has coached both Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi to world No.1 at different stages of their careers. Doubles specialist Horia Tecău reportedly told Romanian TV that it was rumoured Cahill received an annual salary in the region of one million euros during his time with Halep. Although this has not been verified.

The announcement comes a week after Halep married Macedonian businessman Toni Iuruc. One of those who attended the event was Illie Nastase who was one of the world’s best tennis players during the 1970s, winning both the French Open and US Open.

I didn’t know anything about Simona’s intention to break up with Darren Cahill. It took me a little by surprise. But Simona Halep has proven she knows what she’s doing. As I did not know, I do not see what I could comment. But there is no question of collaborating (with her),” Nastase told playsport.ro.
I didn’t talk to her about this or to anyone else in her entourage… I think only Simona knows who her future coach will be. I trust her choices.”

So far in 2021 Halep has achieved a win-loss record of 15-7 during what has been a rollercoaster season. An Achilles injury forced her to miss both the French Open and Wimbledon, as well as the Tokyo Olympics. Since returning to the Tour from her injury she has won back-to-back matches in one out of three tournaments played. Reaching the fourth round of the US Open.

There has been no official word on who may replace Cahill as Halep’s coach.

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