In case you forgot, WTA Top 5: Where they left off, looking ahead

In case you forgot, WTA Top 5: Where they left off, looking ahead

Two players—No. 4 Sofia Kenin and No. 5 Elina Svitolina—won the last two WTA events in March before the tours were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Professional tennis made its return this week with the WTA event in Palermo, as did a handful of Top 20 women’s players—and it’s only a matter of time before the biggest names are back on court, too.

So in case you’ve forgotten, here are the Top 5 players on the WTA rankings, as well as where they all left off when the coronavirus pandemic caused the suspension of the tours in mid-March:

No. 5 Elina Svitolina

The Ukrainian was just finding her form again when the tour was suspended. She struggled through the first two months of the year, going 4-6 and suffering a third-round exit at the Australian Open. But in the first week of March, she won her first WTA title of the year—her first since 2018—in Monterrey, vaulting her back into the Top 5, from No. 7 to No. 5.

Svitolina’s comeback plans aren’t final, but she’s gone deep at both the US Open and Roland Garros in the past, so she would be one of the favorites if she plays either major. She posted a career-best semifinal finish in New York last year, falling to Serena Williams, and is a two-time quarterfinalist in Paris, very nearly making the semifinals in 2017—falling after holding a match point on Simona Halep.

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No. 4 Sofia Kenin

The 21-year-old had a dream start to 2020, going all the way to her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, having never been to the quarterfinals of a major beforehand. That victory propelled Kenin into the Top 10 and landed her the honor of becoming the No. 1-ranked American for the first time. After early exits in Dubai and Doha, she won another WTA title in Lyon, France to push up to a new career-high of No. 4 right before the tour shut down.

Kenin has never made it out of the first week in five previous appearances at the US Open, but prior to 2020, her best run at a major came at Roland Garros. Last year, she stunned Serena Williams in the third round before falling to Ashleigh Barty, the eventual champion, in three sets.

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No. 3 Karolina Pliskova

The big-serving Czech had a strong start to 2020, winning the Premier event in Brisbane for the third time in the last four years—and snapping Naomi Osaka’s 14-match winning streak along the way. She went 4-3 in her next three events, which included a third-round exit at the Australian Open.

With so many top players potentially rusty from a five-month break in play, there couldn’t be a better time for Pliskova, a former No. 1, to finally win her first major. Her best result to date at a Grand Slam came at the US Open, where she was a runner-up to Angelique Kerber in 2016. And she’s a former semifinalist at Roland Garros, reaching the final four there in 2017 before running into Halep.

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No. 2 Simona Halep

After a slight hiccup to start 2020, losing her second match in Adelaide to an in-form Aryna Sabalenka, the 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon champion looked primed to add the Australian Open trophy to her cabinet. Halep ultimately fell two wins short, losing to Garbine Muguruza in the semifinals, and soon bounced back to win the only tournament she’s played since then, triumphing at Dubai on February 22.

Halep, who’s scheduled to return to action at the WTA event in Prague next week, has endured some recent struggles at the US Open, falling in the first or second round the last three years. It's the only major she hasn’t contested a final at, though she did get through to the semifinals in 2015. Roland Garros is by far her best major—Halep didn’t just win it in 2018, she’s also appeared in two more finals.

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No. 1 Ashleigh Barty

The only WTA player inside the Top 5 to officially announce she won’t be traveling to the U.S. this summer, Barty still hasn’t made a decision on Roland Garros. Should the world No. 1 travel to Paris, she would be one of the biggest favorites for the title as the event's defending champion.

Having finished 2019 with the season-ending WTA Finals Shenzhen title, Barty won the first 10 matches of her 2020 campaign, capturing the Premier-level title in Adelaide and reaching the semifinals in Melbourne. Her bid was ended by eventual champion Kenin in a tight two-setter after missing out on four set points throughout the match. In her only event since then, Barty reached the semifinals of the Premier 5 event in Doha, falling to Petra Kvitova.

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