Venus Williams Among 5 Players Set to Rise in the WTA Rankings in 2013
And while they appear to have the top three spots in the rankings fairly secure, a group of players is poised to either hit new heights or return to prior levels of success, offering a solid challenge to the WTA's big three.
Following is a look at five—among them all-time great Venus Williams—who could make some major inroads on the standings in the season ahead.
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For a good portion of 2012, Caroline Wozniacki's game appeared to be heading in a definite downward trend, especially as the former world No. 1 went the majority of the season without winning a title. That stat only enhanced the negative perception around her time spent at the top.
Post-U.S. Open, though, Wozniacki turned it on by making the finals of three of her last five tournaments. Such a strong run at the end should propel her back toward the Top Five in 2013.
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Tour veteran Maria Kirilenko could be considered among the best active players to have never reached the Top 10 in singles. In 2012, though, she did reach a career-high ranking of 12 before finishing the season at 14.
While she hasn't won a singles title since 2008, Kirilenko has gone on to post the best Grand Slam results of her career since 2010, having made her first two major quarterfinals, including one last year at Wimbledon. That success, plus her stellar doubles results, could help boost her achievements on the singles court.
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While the Luxembourg tournament might not be the biggest on the WTA Tour, Venus Williams' win there in 2012 proved to the former world No. 1 that she's capable of still winning events and showing dominant form.
Williams finished the year at No. 24 in the rankings, one of the most impressive accomplishments of her career, considering the health issues she's had to deal with. Provided she holds up physically, the seven-time major winner could be vying for a top-eight spot in the standings in '13.
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Sabine Lisicki saw her recent rankings rise go in reverse by the end of 2012. Despite reaching a career-high singles ranking at one point over the season, the big-hitting German finished the year outside the Top 35. That marks a stunning turn for the 2011 Wimbledon semifinalist and '12 quarterfinalist.
Lisicki is one of the most powerful players on the WTA Tour, and provided she avoids the rash of injuries she suffered last year, she could find herself bashing her way to a new career benchmark.
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Injuries essentially decimated Andrea Petkovic's 2012 campaign, as she was forced off the court twice for significant amounts of time on separate occasions. And that was coming off a year in which she cracked the Top 10 for the first time and made three Grand Slam quarterfinals.
But there are signs that Petkovic could make a big rankings jump in 2013. Currently outside the Top 100, she will have few points to defend over the course of the season. She also ended the year on somewhat of a high note by reaching the semifinals at a small event. That tournament run should've been able to give her momentum over the offseason, which could carry into the months ahead.