Rankings Winners And Losers: Novak Djokovic Returns To The Top, Sofia Kenin Breaks New Ground - UBITENNIS
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Rankings Winners And Losers: Novak Djokovic Returns To The Top, Sofia Kenin Breaks New Ground

Ubitennis looks at the biggest movers in the ATP and WTA rankings following the conclusion of the Australian Open.

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2020 Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic and Sofia Kenin (image via https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

The Australian Open has come to an end and there has been some noticeable moves in the world rankings by both veterans as well as rising stars of the game. On the other hand some players now face the prospect of battling to regain some footing on the tour following a series of disappointing losses.

 

Here is a breakdown of this week’s top movers and fallers.

Novak back on top

Novak Djokovic has once again returned to the world No.1 spot for the first time since November. Overtaking rival Rafael Nadal in the process. It is his 276th week in the position and he now has a 325-point lead over his nearest rival. Compared to two weeks ago, the same players are in the top five. However, Melbourne finalist Dominic Thiem overtakes Daniil Medvedev into fourth spot.

“Novak has had a faultless start to the season, leading Serbia to victory at the ATP Cup and capturing a record eighth Australian Open crown. He has proven yet again that he is the man to beat and his record in Australia is second to none. Many congratulations to Novak and his team on such impressive start to the year and his deserved return to World No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.”ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said in a statement.

Elsewhere, Nick Kyrgios has risen six places to 20th following his run to the fourth round of the Australian Open. Where he was knocked out by Nadal. It is the first time the Australian has been inside the top 20 since August 2018. He has been as high as 13th back in 2016.

Tennys Sandgren has achieved the biggest jump in the top 100 after rising 44 places from 100 to 56. The 28-year-old reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in what was his joint-best performance ever achieved at a grand slam. He also reached the quarter-final of the same tournament back in 2018. He was knocked out of the tournament by world No.3 Roger Federer.

Sandgren is one of only three players to rise 10 or more places in the top 100. The other two are Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics (67 to 53) and America’s Tommy Paul (80 to 70).

At the other end of the spectrum, Frances Tiafoe has fallen to his lowest position in over a year. Dropping 29 places to 79th in the world. The fall was due to his first round exit at the Australian Open where he was defending quarter-final points from the previous year. He is now the eighth highest ranked ATP player from America.

Tiafoe is one of five players to drop 10 or more places in the top 100:-

The top five fallers:-
No.62 Lucas Pouille FRA – down 38 places (currently injured)
No.79 Frances Tiafoe USA – down 29 places
No.85 Lloyd Harris RSA – down 13 places
No.69 Joao Sousa POR – down 10 places
No.95 Andreas Seppi ITA – down 10 places

Finally, Andrey Rublev is the most high-profile player to achieve a career-best ranking this week. The Russian has risen to 15th in the world as a result of an emphatic start to 2020. After winning titles in Doha and Auckland, he also reached the fourth round of the Australian Open. Another player to reach a new best is Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz at 28th.

Barty still leads the women, But Kenin is on the chase

As for the stars of the women’s game, Ash Barty is still comfortably in the world No.1 spot. The Australian currently has a lead of more than 2000 points against her nearest rival, which is Simona Halep. Both Barty and Halep reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

“It’s disappointing but it’s been a hell of a summer. If you’d have told me three weeks ago that we would have won a tournament in Adelaide and made the semi-final of the Australian Open, I’d take that every single day of the week.” The world No.1 told reporters last week.

Undoubtedly the biggest riser is newly crowned Melbourne champion Sofia Kenin. The 21-year-old has rocketed up the rankings to seventh in the world. Becoming the youngest American woman to crack the top 10 since Serena Williams back in 1999. Although she has already set her sights on one day claiming the No.1 honor.

“I hope so. I would love to; that’s my dream,” she said.
“I want to strive and get there. But baby steps and hopefully it will happen.”

Two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza is another player to rise up the rankings. The Spaniard has risen 16 spots to world No.16. Making it the first time she has been in the top 20 since May. Coached by Conchita Martinez, Muguruza finished runner-up to Kenin in Melbourne.

Ons Jabeur’s impressive run in the Australian Open he enabled her to rise to a ranking high of 45th. The Tunisian recently became the first Arab woman in history to reach the last eight of a grand slam tournament. Jabeur was the last player Caroline Wozniacki played before retiring from the sport.

As for the fallers, Naomi Osaka is on the verge of exiting the top 10 for the first time since August 2018. After failing to defend her title in Melbourne following a second round loss to Coco Gauff (who is now ranked 51st), she has dropped from fourth to 10th in the world. A big contrast to this time 12 months ago where she became the first Asian player in history to become world No.1 in the sport.

The biggest casualty in the top 100 is Danielle Collins, who has gone from 25th to 50th. The American was defending a heavy amount of points in Australia following her semi-final run in 2019. This year she lost in the second round.

Finally, Venus Williams has fallen a further 11 places to 66th. Her lowest position since 2012.

The WTA top 10

  1. Ashleigh Barty (8367 points)
  2. Simona Halep (6101)
  3. Karolina Pliskova (5290)
  4. Elina Svitolina (4775)
  5. Belinda Bencic (4675)
  6. Bianca Andreescu (4665)
  7. Sofia Kenin (4495)
  8. Kiki Bertens (3965)
  9. Serena Williams (3915)
  10. Naomi Osaka (3626)

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Nikoloz Basilashvili upsets Stefanos Tsitsipas in Indian Wells to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal

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Nikoloz Basilashvili upset world number 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 2-6 6-4 to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semfinal. 

 

Basilashvili, who was playing in his first Masters 1000 quarter final, went up a 4-1 lead with a double break in the first and fifth games. Tsitsipas pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4. Basilashvili held on his next service games to claim the first set 6-4. 

Tsitsipas broke twice in the fourth and eighth games and did not face a break point to seal the second set 6-2. 

After a trade of breaks in the first and fourth games of the third set, Basilashvili earned his second break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and fended off a break point in the eighth game to hold serve after three deuces. He served out the win on his first match point in the 10th game.   

Despite the defeat Tsitsipas still leads 2-1 in his three head-to-head matches against Basilashvili. The Georgian player had never won a main draw match in Indian Wells in his four previous appearances at this tournament. Earlier this year he won two titles at Doha and Munich. 

Tsitsipas was aiming to reach his third consecutive Masters 1000 semifinal in North America after advancing to the last four in two consecutive hard-court tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati. 

“I have played really great matches this tournament. I was not played with how I played today but I was happy with how I managed my stress levels. First time in the quarter finals and it is a big court and Stefanos is still a tough player. I had to keep my physical levels and energy levels in a really good shape because I knew mentally I would be a little bit tight and stressed”, said Basilashvili.

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Carlos Moya, Flavia Pennetta and Ana Ivanovic are among the candidates for the 2022 International Tennis Hall of Fame

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Carlos Moya, the first Spanish player the number 1, and former Grand Slam champions Flavia Pennetta and Ana Ivanovic are among the candidates for 2022 International Tennis Hall of Fame. 

 

Ivanovic lifted the 2008 French Open Trophy after a final at the 2008 Australian Open and a semifinal at 2007 Wimbledon and claimed 15 WTA titles during her career. Since her French Open triumph, she spent 12 weeks as world number 1 player. She would become the first player representing Serbia to be voted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. 

“Many of the women who I looked up to as a young girl are Hall of Famers and to be nominated to receive an honour that places my career alongside those who inspired me is just incredible”, said Ana Ivanovic. 

Flavia Pennetta became the oldest first-time Grand Slam champion when she beat her childhood friend Roberta Vinci in the all-Italian US Open Final in 2015. Pennetta teamed up with Vinci in guiding Italy to four Fed Cup titles. 

“I loved competing and to have my tennis career recognized in this way among the sports all-greats is such an incredible honour”, said Pennetta. 

Moya won the 1998 Roland Garros title and reached the 1997 Australian Open final. He became the first Spanish player to reach the top of the ATP Ranking and won 20 ATP titles, including three ATP Masters 1000 trophies. Moya lifted the Davis Cup title in 2004 for Spain after taking his his second singles win of the tie with his straight-set win over Andy Roddick. 

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Paula Badosa reaches her first WTA 1000 semifinal at Indian Wells

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World number 27 Paula Badosa became the first Spanish player since 2003 to reach the semifinals at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells after her 6-4 6-3 win over 2019 finalist Angelique Kerber. 

 

After an early trade of breaks in the first set, both Badosa and Kerber held serve until the 10th game, when Kerber misfired on consecutive points, as was serving at 4-5 30-30. Badosa earned her second break point, as Kerber hit her second double fault of the set. Badosa converted her chance when Kerber sent her backhand long. 

Badosa went up a 5-2 lead with a double break in the fourth and sixth games. Kerber fended off two match points to hold serve for 3-5 before breaking Badosa to get back on serve for 5-5. After two holds of serve Badosa converted her third match point after Kerber sent her forehand long. 

Badosa set up a semifinal against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who beat Anett Kontaveit. The Spaniard has moved into her second WTA 1000 semifinal of the season after advancing to the same stage at the Madrid Mutua Open. 

Badosa has claimed her fourth top 10 win of her 2021 season after beating this year’s Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova in straight sets in the fourth round. Earlier this week she defeated Coco Gauff and Dayana Yastremska, dropping just one set en route to the semifinal against Jabeur. 

Badosa will meet Jabeur for the second time this season. The Spanish player beat her Tunisian rival 7-6 2-6 6-4 at the 2015 US Open. Jabeur took a re-match last spring when she beat Badosa 7-6 5-7 7-5 in the second round in Miami. 

Last April Badosa beat Belinda Bencic and Ashleigh Barty at the Charleston Open en route to the semifinals, where she lost to Veronika Kudemertova. One month later the Spanish player advanced to her first WTA 1000 semifinal at the Madrid Mutua Open becoming the first Spanish player to reach the semifinals in the tournament history, beating Belinda Bencic. Badosa reached her third consecutive semifinal at the Serbia Open defeating Rebecca Petterson. She joined the top 40 for the first time in her career and went on to win her maiden title after Ana Konjuh withdrew from the match injured. 

At the French Open Badosa beat 2019 finalist Marketa Vondrousova to move into the quarter finals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her career. She went up a break in the final set, but she lost to Tamara Zidansek. 

At the Olympic Games in Tokyo Badosa beat Kristina Mladenovic, Iga Swiatek and Nadia Podoroska before withdrawing from the quarter final against eventual Olympic silver medallist Marketa Vondrousova due to a heatstroke.  

“I always said Jabeur is one of the most talented players in the world. She is doing an amazing year. It’s nice seeing all these players that we were like a few years ago outside the top 100 now being top 10, top 20, fighting for the finals. It’s amazing. I am super happy that I can play her”, said Badosa. 

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