Professional tennis’ return from the coronavirus break continued this past week with two more WTA events, and three Americans who brought their A-games to Lexington, Ky.—Jennifer Brady, Coco Gauff and Shelby Rogers—made notable climbs up the WTA rankings on Monday.
Brady was the star performer of the week, going all the way to her first WTA title at the hard-court event and subsequently rising from No. 49 to No. 40, passing her previous career-high of No. 45.
“For my first title to come in America, I’m really happy,” she said. “It’s something I’ll always remember. Everybody remembers their first title, I’m sure, but for me to win here at home, I think it’s awesome.”
With her efforts, Brady is also projected to get a seed at the US Open. With the amount of players who have already pulled out of the upcoming Grand Slam event, her No. 40 ranking will put her among the Top 32 there. And no new WTA events will be applied to next week’s rankings, as the Western & Southern Open begins this weekend and runs through August 28.
The 25-year-old is hoping for a strong showing in New York, and not just for herself.
“All the Americans this week, there were quite a few of us playing this tournament, to be able to have a lot of matches going into Cincinnati and the US Open, it’s fantastic for all of us,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing how things turn out there. Everybody’s pretty excited to go and play.”
Meanwhile, 16-year-old Gauff rose from No. 53 to No. 50—one spot off of her career-high ranking of No. 49—after reaching the semifinals in Lexington. Along the way she beat No. 11-ranked Aryna Sabalenka, which was the third Top 20 win of her career, following previous victories over No. 8 Kiki Bertens at Linz in October 2019 and No. 4 Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open earlier this year.
And Rogers pulled off the biggest surprise of the Top Seed Open, scoring a 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) stunner against No. 1 seed, Serena Williams, in the quarterfinals. The 27-year-old’s victory over the No. 9-ranked Williams was the third Top 10 win of her career, following victories over No. 8 Eugenie Bouchard in Montreal in 2014 and No. 4 Simona Halep at the Australian Open in 2017.
With her semifinal showing, Rogers jumped from No. 116 to No. 95, her first time in the Top 100 since the week of April 2, 2018, which was a few weeks after she began a 12-month lay-off due to a left knee injury. She dipped as low as No. 786 in the time since.
“Going back to my knee surgery, where six months after surgery, I didn’t think I was going to be able to play again, ever,” she said. “At the beginning of this year I felt like I was gaining some traction and finding my game again, and the goal was to get back to the Top 100. But then quarantine happened.
“One of my goals was to keep that momentum going during quarantine, not miss a step. I played a lot of matches during the break when I could, and I tried to stay on top of my game.”
Other notable ranking movers included Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann, who returned to her career-high after reaching the Lexington final, rising from No. 63 to No. 54; and 17-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez—the second-youngest player in the Top 200 after Gauff—who rose from No. 120 to No. 111 after qualifying and reaching the second round in Lexington, knocking off Sloane Stephens for the second time in 2020.