She was outside the Top 300 as recently as 2017, but resurgent Swiss Belinda Bencic continued her climb up the Top 10 of the WTA Rankings this week, setting a new career-high ranking of No. 4.
Bencic had gone as high as No. 7 back in 2016, but struggles with injury—mostly back and left wrist—saw her fall as low as No. 318 in 2017. She’s been rocketing back up the rankings over the last two and a half years, though, breaking back into the Top 10 after reaching the semifinals of the US Open last year, then breaking the Top 5 after a third-round finish at this year’s Australian Open.
Now, after reaching the quarterfinals of the Premier-level event in St. Petersburg last week—her 10th quarterfinal in the last 12 months—the 22-year-old Swiss has set another new personal best.
“I’m not someone who usually starts the season very fast and strong, but I’ve still had some good, solid matches so far this year,” Bencic told WTATour.com. “I’m pretty happy with my level—a win or a loss is a very fine line, so here and there wasn’t very good, but I know what I have to improve.”
It could be tough to maintain that No. 4 ranking, though—Bencic is defending 900 points this week from winning the Premier 5 event in Dubai last year, but the maximum she can earn this week is 470 points, as this year Dubai is a regular Premier event, and Doha next week is a Premier 5.
Rapid-rising Elena Rybakina crashes Top 20 after St. Petersburg final
One of the fastest-rising players on the women’s tour reached another new ranking class this week as Rybakina rose from No. 25 to No. 19, her Top 20 debut, after reaching her first Premier final.
Originally from Russia but representing Kazakhstan since 2018, Rybakina was ranked No. 106 when she left Wimbledon last summer, and in the seven months since then she’s won her first two WTA titles and reached another three finals, including St. Petersburg this past week, falling to Kiki Bertens.
“Last year was very successful and unexpected for me, as the goal was to finish the year in the Top 80,” said Rybakina, who finished 2019 at No. 36. “My goal for 2020 is to finish in the Top 20.”
Other WTA players making notable moves up the rankings this week included Ekaterina Alexandrova, who rose from No. 28 to No. 25 after reaching the semifinals of St. Petersburg, her Top 25 debut; and Magda Linette, who rose from No. 42 to No. 33 after winning the title in Hua Hin, her Top 40 debut.
Andrey Rublev gets one step closer to Top 10
There were some new ATP career-highs, too: Rublev moved up from No. 15 to No. 14 after reaching the quarterfinals of Rotterdam; Cristian Garin rose from No. 26 to No. 25, his Top 25 debut, without even hitting a ball after Kei Nishikori fell from No. 25 to No. 30; and Christian Ruud rose from his previous high of No. 45 to a new high of No. 34 after winning his first ATP title in Buenos Aires.
Also, 18-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner rose from No. 79 to No. 68, soaring past his previous career-high of No. 78, after reaching the quarters of Rotterdam. He got his first Top 10 win en route against No. 10 David Goffin before falling to former No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta in a third set tie-break.
Among the notable drops this week: Elise Mertens, who fell out of the Top 20 from No. 19 to No. 22 after her points from winning Doha last year dropped off; American Reilly Opelka, who fell out of the Top 50 from No. 40 to No. 54 after losing in the quarterfinals of New York last week, having won the title last year; and former No. 16 and 2018 French Open semifinalist Marco Cecchinato, who fell out of the Top 100 from No. 73 to No. 111 after losing first round at Buenos Aires, having won it last year.