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Serena Williams Sitting Pretty Atop the Women’s Tennis Power Rankings

Posted on February 15, 2010 by JA Allen
Day 13 - Serena Williams wins the Australian Open

Serena Williams is back at the top of the Power Rankings.

Serena Williams reigns once again as we launch the season’s inaugural Women’s Tennis Power Rankings.  With the first major completed, the 2010 season is officially underway.

There are several questions that need to be answered in terms of the WTA rankings on the women’s side of the equation now that this year’s Australian Open is in the history books.

Questions like what effect will the return of Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin have on the women’s tour?  Will Dinara Safina find her courage this year?  Will Svetlana Kuznetsova be able to defend her crown at the 2010 French Open?

Will Maria Sharapova ever tame her toss so that her serve is effective once again?  Will one of the youngsters break through and will Serena Williams loosen her grip at the top?

The Power Rankings will give you the hottest players at the moment as we keep you apprised of the latest movers and shakers on tour.

The Top 10

1. Serena Williams (Last Power Ranking: 2; Current WTA Ranking: 1)

Last four tournaments: Australian Open [Winner],  Sydney [Finalist], Doha [Winner], Beijing [R16].

Power Ranking Points: 832

Serena Williams came into the Australian Open as the No. 1 seed, holding the WTA No. 1 ranking as she did at the conclusion of 2009.  She left Melbourne with another grand slam victory –– her 12th singles crown.  This has given her a stranglehold on the top spot.  It is hard to imagine anyone wresting it away from her any time soon.

After winning the season-ending 2009 WTA Tournament in Doha, the American advanced to the finals of the tournament in Sydney in 2010.  There Williams lost to Russian Elena Dementieva, 6-3, 6-2, suffering with an apparent left knee injury.

Williams was severely wrapped through all rounds of the Australian Open, but managed to hold on and win against Henin in a 3-set final. Williams has withdrawn from playing in Dubai this week along with No. 2 ranked Safina.

Time will tell if the younger Williams sister will retain her No. 1 ranking or be vulnerable to attack from the resurgent Belgian contingent.

2. Elena Dementieva  (Last Power Ranking: 1; Current WTA Ranking: 7)

Last four tournaments: Open GDF Suez [Winner], Australian Open [R 64], Sydney [Winner], Doha [RR 2-1].

Power Ranking Points: 620

Elena Dementieva

Elena Dementieva

Dementieva had the worst luck possible at the Australian Open to be seeded in the third quarter along with Clijsters, Henin and Russian Kuznetsova.  She met and was defeated by Justine Henin in the second round.

Many argue that Henin should have been seeded.  But, of course, that is not how the WTA and the Australian Open proceed.  There are definite rules in place.  Dementieva was playing well enough to have progressed quite far into the tournament.  Her bad luck to meet Henin early on.

On her way to the finals in Sydney, Dementieva, defeated No. 2 seed Safina, No. 6 seed Victoria Azarenka and No. 1 seed Williams to collect her first tour championship of the season.  Her second championship came on Sunday as she defeated Lucie Safarova 6-7, 6-1, 6-4 to win the Open GDF Suez in France.  Dementieva shows no sign to relenting or caving into the pressure.

3. Justine Henin  (Last Power Ranking: NR; Current WTA Ranking: NR)

Last four* tournaments: Brisbane [Finalist], Australian Open [Finalist]. (*Only 2 events played since return in 2010).

Power Ranking Points: 500

Like her fellow country woman Clijsters, Henin’s return to professional tennis had an immediate impact.  She made it to the finals of both tournaments she entered and pushed a tested opponent in the finals in both instances.

She lost to Clijsters in the final at Brisbane, pushing the 2009 U.S. Open winner to three sets.  At the Australian Open, she faced No. 1 seed Williams and lost to her in three competitive sets.

Keeping her promise to play aggressively, Henin forced the issue in both matches, let down only by her serve and by her lack of match play practice.  Be prepared to see Henin bring her game into focus on the European clay courts.

4. Vera Zvonareva (Last Power Ranking: NR; Current WTA Ranking: 14)

Last four tournaments: Pattaya Open [Winner], Sydney [R32], Australian Open [R16], Doha [R1].

Power Ranking Points: 378

Vera Zvonareva won her second consecutive title at the Pattaya Open in Thailand this  past week.  It marks her tenth WTA title overall.  Starting 2010 again injured and having to retire during the Sydney tournament, Zvonareva regained her strength and healed well enough to take the Open title in Thailand.

The Russian no longer finds herself in the WTA top 10.  Having fought injuries during most of 2009, Zvonareva will definitely have to battle hard to find her way back to the the top.  Staying injury-free will remain one of her biggest challenges.

This week she is the number 12 seed at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships.  With No. 1 ranked Williams and No. 2 ranked Safina both absent from the tournament because of injuries, it is a good time for someone else to climb in the rankings.  Winning in Dubai would be a great victory for Zvonereva.

5. Na Li  (Last Power Ranking: NR; Current WTA Ranking: 10)

Last four tournaments: Australian Open [Semifinalist], Sydney [R 16],  Auckland [R 32],  Beijing [R 16].

Power Ranking Points: 320

Na Li

Na Li

The Chinese ladies made quite an impact at the Australian Open with both Na Li and Jie Zheng advancing to the semifinals of the tournament.  Their success speaks volumes in terms of the advancement of the Chinese ladies into the upper echelons of the sport.

Li’s success advanced her the WTA’s No. 10 spot , making her the first Chinese woman to make it into the top 10.

Seeded No. 8 in Dubai in Caroline Wozniacki’s quarter of the draw, Li has another great opportunity to climb even higher.  With her athleticism, speed and defining deep and quick ground stokes, Li is an aggressive, offensive minded baseline player.  She is not afraid to take the offensive when it is offered to her.  This could very well be Li’s year.

6. Jie Zheng  (Last Power Ranking: NR; Current WTA Ranking: 20)

Last four tournaments: Australian Open [Semifinalist], Hobart [Quarterfinalist], Beijing [R64], Tokyo [R 32].

Power Ranking Points: 317

Like her country woman Li, Zheng made it to the semifinals of the Australian Open where she lost to eventual runner-up Justine Henin.  It marked the first time in the history of the game that two Chinese women made it into the final four of a grand slam tournament.  The points earned propelled Zheng back into the top 20.

Zheng will be playing in the tournament in Dubai this week, looking for an opportunity to advance her ranking even further and strengthen her game.  She is proficient at doubles and feels comfortable at the net.

Not as powerful or as tall as Li, Zheng relies on consistency and counter-punching to outlast her opponents.  Such tactics will only take the Chinese woman so far in her quest to rise into the top 10.    She has her work cut out for her if she expects to equal Li in that respect.

7. Flavia Pennetta (Last Power Ranking: NR: Current WTA Ranking: 11)

Last four tournaments: Open GDF Suez [Semifinalist], Australian Open [R 64], Sydney [Quarterfinalist], Auckland [Finalist].

Power Ranking Points: 291

Pennetta is the first Italian woman to be ranked in the WTA top 10.  This happened in August of 2009.  Pennetta is not only a good singles player, she also is ranked World No. 21 in doubles.  This says much for her aggressive serve and volley style of play.  She is ferocious at the net and can often dictate play with her offense.

Like most players on tour, Pennetta, who has played professionally for 10 years, battles injury.  Her foot-speed and her defensive prowess can only keep her equal in matches.  It is her ability to turn defense into offense and end points quickly that allows her to win against the best in the world.  She is playing up to her capacity to start 2010 as she reaches No. 7 in our Power Rankings.

8. Shahar Peer (Last Power Ranking: 4: Current WTA Ranking: 22)

Last four tournaments: Open GDF Suez [Quarterfinalist], Australian Open [R 32], Hobart [Finalist], Auckland [Semifinalist].

Power Ranking Points: 235

Shahar Peer

Shahar Peer

This is Peer’s first time in the official Power Rankings, although the Israeli was previously included in the top five of our pre-season Power Rankings in January.   Based on her play in early 2010, Peer accumulated enough points to break into our top 10.  Peer reached the quarterfinals of the Open GDF in Paris, falling to eventual finalist Safarova 6-3, 6-0.

Peer also reached the semifinals in Auckland, losing to eventual champion Yanina Wickmayer, 6-4, 7-5.  The Israeli reached the finals in Hobart where she lost to Alona Bondarenko 6-2, 6-4.  She made it to the third round, losing to Wozniacki at the 2010 Australian Open.

Peer is playing this coming week in Dubai where she was denied a visa and entrance into the tournament last year for political reasons.  The tournament was fined for last year’s actions and the world will be watching to make sure the young woman from Israel is treated with dignity and respect – as all players in the field should be.

9. Victoria Azarenka (Last Power Ranking: 7; Current WTA Ranking: 6)

Last four tournaments: Australian Open [Quarterfinalist], Sydney [Semifinalist], Doha [RR 1-2] Beijing [R2].

Power Ranking Points: 234

Once again at the Australian Open, Azarenka had a terrific tournament until meeting No. 1 ranked Williams in the quarterfinals.  Even then, Azarenka won the first set and was up 4-0 in the second set before Williams came back to even the set and eventually win the second set tiebreaker.  Williams closed it out in the third set.

Azarenka made it to the semifinals in Sydney where she lost to eventual champion Dementieva 6-3, 6-1.  Battling injury for a great deal of 2009, Azarenka hopes to make further inroads into the top tier of women in 2010.

She is seeded 4 in Dubai and faces intense competition on her way to the quarterfinals where she could meet No. 6 seed Jelena Jankovic.  She will continue to work on her weak serve and her sometimes vagrant forehand.

But expect the young lady from Belarus to continue to react with fiery determination and explosive anger that highlight her great desire to win.

10. Venus Williams  (Last Power Ranking: NR; Current WTA Ranking: 5)

Last four tournaments: Australian Open [Quarterfinalist], Doha [Finalist], Beijing [R 32], Tokyo [R32].

Power Ranking Points: 217

Venus Williams reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open where she met defeat at the hands of Li 2-6, 7-6, 7-5.  Williams just could not close out the determined Chinese woman.

Soon to be age 30, Williams seems to have the desire and the game to continue playing in the top 10.  She will be defending her title this week in Dubai, seeded No. 3 behind No. 1 seed Wozniacki and No. 2 seed Kuznetsova.

Accused of having less of the “killer instinct” than her younger sister, the elder Williams will need all of that aggression and more to defend her title in this packed field even without the top two seeds in action.

Outside looking in:

  • Kim Clijsters  (Last Power Ranking: 6; Current WTA Ranking: 17)

Last four tournaments: Australian Open [R 32], Brisbane [Winner], Luxembourg [R16], U.S.Open [Winner].

Power Ranking Points: 189

Kim Clijsters won the tournament in Brisbane, defeating her fellow country woman and former nemesis, Justine Henin but then she ran into a red-hot Nadia Petrova in the third round of the 2010 Australian Open.  Seemingly flat-footed and slow, Clijsters suffered defeat in the dangerous third quarter of the draw.  Many expected her to win this championship.  It was not to be.

  • Maria Kirilenko  (Last Power Ranking: NR; Current WTA Ranking: 37)

Last four tournaments: Australian Open [Quarterfinalist], Auckland [Quarterfinalist], Moscow [Quarterfinalist], Osaka [R 32].

Power Ranking Points: 185

Russian Kirilenko made her her first quarterfinal grand slam appearance at the Australian Open in 2010.  She hopes to be a player on the rise.  Recently withdrawing in Thailand, Kirilenko is suffering with an adductor strain and hoping for a quick recovery and a quick return to action.

  • Svetlana Kuznetsova (Last Power Ranking: 9; Current WTA Ranking: 4)

Last four tournaments: Australian Open [R 16], Sydney [Quarterfinalist], [Doha [RR went 1-2], Beijing [Winner].

Power Ranking Points: 181

Kuznetsova lost to an on-fire Petrova in the fourth round, ending her hopes for a win at Melbourne.  Seeded No. 2 in Dubai, Kuznetsova begins her campaign to win that tournament this week.  She will be the defending champion at the French Open and you cannot help but wonder what the effect of Henin’s return will have on that prestigious tournament.

Author’s note: Our power rankings are based on our own unique formula.  To read how the power rankings are derived, click here and read how Feng Rong calculates the totals.  The next Women’s Rankings will appear in two weeks on March 1st.

Click here for the men’s tennis power rankings.

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