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Ranking Reaction: Unstoppable Sabalenka up to new career-high of No. 7
The Belarusian rose from No. 10 to No. 7 this week after winning the WTA 500 event in Abu Dhabi, surpassing her previous career-high of No. 9, which she set back in 2019.
Published Jan 19, 2021
Aryna Sabalenka had a dream week in Abu Dhabi last week, extending her winning streak to 15 matches and three titles in a row. And now, the icing on the cake: a new career-high ranking.
The Belarusian rose from No. 10 to No. 7 on the new WTA rankings this week, jumping past Bianca Andreescu, Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens, who had been at No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9, respectively. She surpassed her previous career-high ranking of No. 9, which she first reached in February 2019.
She’d been stuck in the No. 9-No. 16 range for more than two years, since October 2018.
“I was surprised that I could compete on this level and in these conditions in Abu Dhabi,” she said. “Before this I was practicing indoors on really, really fast courts with a low bounce, and these courts were really, really fast, but the bounce was high. Also with the wind, the sun and all these conditions, I’m surprised I actually won this tournament. But I was doing everything I could in each match.”
Sabalenka hasn’t just won her last three WTA events, she’s won the last three WTA events, period. Since Roland Garros there have only been three WTA tournaments—indoor stops in Ostrava, Czech Republic and Linz, Austria last fall, and Abu Dhabi last week—and she’s won all three of them.
Can she keep the streak going in Australia?
“I know that I can lose. Everyone can lose. But I will do everything I can to keep winning,” she told WTATennis.com. “If I lose then it’s fine, I just want to make sure I did everything I could.”
A bit further down the WTA rankings, Ons Jabeur made her Top 30 debut, rising from No. 31 to No. 30 after reaching the third round in Abu Dhabi, where she fell to Sabalenka. The Tunisian is actually the last player to beat Sabalenka, ousting the Belarusian in the third round of Roland Garros last October.
Two other Abu Dhabi standouts soared to new career-highs too, with finalist Veronika Kudermetova moving up from No. 46 to No. 36, and semifinalist Marta Kostyuk going from No. 99 to No. 78.
There weren’t too many shifts on the ATP rankings after a pair of 250-level events to kick off the season, but Hubert Hurkacz did bounce back into the Top 30 after winning the second ATP title of his career in Delray Beach, rising from No. 35 to No. 29, just one spot off his career-high of No. 28.
He’s now guaranteed a seed at the upcoming Australian Open.
“For sure that can help me in the first rounds, because you know you’re not going to face Rafa and Novak,” the Polish No. 1 told ATPTour.com en route to the title in Delray Beach. “Hopefully in the future I can be a bit of a higher seed, because then you’re facing the top guys in the third round.”
The winner of the other ATP event last week, Australian No. 1 Alex de Minaur, stayed put at No. 23.