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Movers and Shakers: How the French Open Affected the WTA rankings

Posted on November 02, 2020 by Lucy Waldon

While there were no surprises in the men’s singles at Roland Garros this year, the women’s game threw up a number of shocks. First, there were the absentees, citing safety concerns amidst the coronavirus pandemic – big name players such as last year’s champion Ash Barty, as well as previous US Open winners Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu.

Then we saw many of the seeded stars exit the tournament in its early stages – Serena Williams was forced to withdraw through injury in round two, while there were shock defeats for Angelique Kerber (round one), Karolína Plíšková (round two), and Simona Halep (round four) to the eventual winner Iga Świątek. In the quarter-finals, there were just three seeds, two qualifiers and three unseeded players, with Świątek coming out on top.

While the women’s game has been unpredictable for some time, with Świątek becoming the ninth woman to win a maiden Grand Slam title in the past 14 major tournaments, the Pole’s name certainly wasn’t on anybody’s lips as a possible contender. Previously placed 54th in the world, she wasn’t considered in the pre-tournament tennis odds from Betfair, but her triumph on clay sees her climb into the top-20 – and a career high position of 17th. In winning her first ever WTA singles title and in a Grand Slam tournament too, it’s not just her ranking, but her profile has risen too.

However, there was no movement at top-spot, with Barty holding her place as world number 1, despite not playing at the French Open. The Australian had also been absent at the US Open last month, and last featured in her home Slam – the Australian Open in January, where she was defeated in the semi-finals. And Barty could well have been overthrown, had Halep won the final. But the Romanian remains second in the standings, following her shock defeat. There was no change in third position either, with Osaka’s absence not affecting her ranking.

Further down the top 10, Sofia Kenin and Plíšková switched places, with the former moving up to fourth, and the latter falling to sixth following her second-round exit. Runner-up Kenin had been over-awed in the final, losing in straight sets 6-4, 6-1 – but had overcome the likes of Petra Kvitová to make it that far.

But what about the big movers? Well, we’ve already seen the 2020 French Open champion soar 37 places in the rankings. But further down the table, Danielle Collins broke into the top-50, moving 11 places up to 46th. The former Australian Open semi-finalist was unable to make it a real breakthrough season last year, but made amends for that at Roland Garros – beating the 11th seed Garbiñe Muguruza in round three, before losing her quarter-final to compatriot, Kenin.

And finally, one of the success stories of the French Open was that of qualifier Martina Trevisan. Previously ranked 159th in the world, the Italian moved up 76 places to 83rd. It was only her second appearance in a Grand Slam main draw, and earlier this year, reached the first round of the Australian Open. The story of her earlier career and struggles with anorexia are well-documented, with the 26-year-old even considering to give up tennis. But at Roland Garros, she shone – shocking Coco Gauff in round two, and the fifth seed Kiki Bertens in round four. Like others after her, Świątek is where she fell short.

But that’s the beauty of women’s tennis, and while the French Open marked the end of the Grand Slam tournaments for another year, it won’t be long before all eyes turn to the 2021 Australian Open and the early favourites for success.

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