Power Ranking the Top 20 Women Heading into the 2013 U.S. Open

JA AllenSenior Writer IAugust 21, 2013

Power Ranking the Top 20 Women Heading into the 2013 U.S. Open

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    Change was the order of the day following Wimbledon. The hard-court season for the ladies got underway while a handful of players scattered to participate in the few clay-court events relegated to July.

    The Wimbledon champion who was ranked No.1 in our last Power Ranking retired from the game. Maid Marion Bartoli bid her adieus and faded into the sunset, seeking new worlds to conquer.

    Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova hired and fired Jimmy Connors in a sudden burst of anger. The Russian superstar has played little during the summer hard-court season—marking a shaky preamble to her U.S. Open campaign.

    Power rankings focus on those players who have found success recently. Since many top seeds did not fare well on the hard courts, they are absent from our current list. But that does not mean they will not do well once they reach Flushing Meadows.  

    In order to win a spot on our current Power Ranking, a player had to accumulate at least 300 WTA ranking points between Wimbledon and the start of the U.S. Open.

    As we head to Flushing Meadows, following are the Top 20 players who fared the best over the last seven weeks. They look to have an edge at this year’s U.S. Open.

20. Andrea Petkovic

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    Age 25, Germany, Ranked 43

    Summer Results: Washington DC (F - 200 points), W&S Open (R 32 - 100 pts). Total Points = 300.

    Coming back from a series of injuries suffered in 2012, Andrea Petkovic is slowly regaining her form and making her way back into the upper echelons of the women’s game. Once ranked as high as world No. 9, she has seen her ranking drop out of the top 200. This summer has been encouraging for Petkovic and her team as her game continues to coalesce. 

    Forecast for U.S. Open: Petkovic reached the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows in 2011, her best result to date. Although her game is improving, the German has a long way to go. Expect her to reach the third round and count her blessings in doing so.

19. Alize Cornet

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    Age 23, France, Ranked 28

    Summer Results: Washington DC (S - 130 pts), Rogers Cup (R 16 - 125 pts), W&S Open (R 32 - 70 pts). Total Points = 325.

    The youngster from France can put forth some great results but often falls short at the business end of tournaments. Consistency eludes her from match to match, tournament to tournament. She possesses great movement on court as well as good balance when hitting her groundstrokes. But her serve is hardly a thing of beauty. Her deficiencies launching her attack are hard to overcome even with her decent return game.

    Forecast for U.S. Open: The most you can expect from Cornet is advancing to the second or third round. That was good enough to make this list but not good enough to win against the best players in the women’s game.

18. Ana Ivanovic

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    Age 25, Serbia, Ranked 15

    Summer Results: Carlsbad (S - 200 pts), Rogers Cup (R 16 - 125 pts). Total Points = 325.

    Ana Ivanovic floats in the top twenty, looking good in some matches but ultimately floundering in contests she should win as she attempts to close out opponents. Her summer season was somewhat disappointing after falling in the second round of Wimbledon. But, Ivanovic had better success than most during the summer hard-court season.

    Forecast for the U.S. Open: Last year Ivanovic reached the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows and she will be looking to reach that far again in 2013. Most on tour no longer expect the Serb to return to her top form because she has shown no ability to overcome her on-court doubts and idiosyncrasies. Nonetheless, expect Ivanovic to reach Week No. 2 at the U.S. Open.

17. Klara Zakopalova

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    Age 31, Czech Republic, Ranked 33

    Summer Results: Palermo (S - 130 pts), Bastad (S - 130 pts), Rogers Cup (R 32 - 70 pts). Total Points = 330.

    Klara Zakopalova has been around for a while, touring the tennis venues of the world. She reached her highest WTA ranking in April of this year after a successful spring hard court season. But now she has settled comfortably in the top 40.

    Forecast for the U.S. Open: Zakopalova has never advanced beyond the first round of the U.S. Open so we expect little from her this year. She has the capability to surprise a few players and has done so in the past. But the courts in Flushing Meadows are just a little too fast for the Czech who simply cannot keep pace there. Expect little or no bite from Zakopalova during the last Grand Slam of the season.

16. Elina Svitolina

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    Age 18, Ukraine, Ranked 44

    Summer Results: Bad Gastein (S - 130 pts), Baku (W - 280 pts). Total Points = 410

    The teenager shows great promise so far on clay which is one of her favorite surfaces. She will definitely be someone to watch in another year or two. With hard courts listed as her least favorite terrain, Svitolina still managed to win her first WTA title on a hard court in Baku. She’s only been playing the main tour for the past two years, so she is still learning, making the hard transition from the junior circuit.

    Forecast for the U.S. Open: Svitolina has only played at the U.S. Open once before, having to qualify to make the main draw. She lost her opener to Ana Ivanovic in 2012. But this year she will gain entry into the main draw with her current ranking in the top 50. Expect the teenager to fall early but keep an eye on her as the season draws to an end.

15. Shahar Pe'er

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    Age 26, Israel, Ranked 80

    Summer Results: Budapest (Q - 70 pts), Baku (F - 200 pts), Suzhou (W - 160 pts). Total Points = 430.

    Shahar Pe'er has been playing on tour since 2004 and in 2011 was ranked as high as No. 11. The last four years, her game seemed to slip away. She found herself dislocated, falling out of the top 100. But then in 2013, she reached the finals in Baku and won the championship in Suzhou, offering her fans and her country something positive. Her ranking has climbed back into the top 100 and this is a good sign.

    Forecast for the U.S. Open: In her eight tries at the U.S. Open, Pe’er reached the quarterfinals in 2007 and the fourth round in 2010. Her aggressive game works well on the hard courts, so if she returns to form, she may find herself advancing at least as far as the fourth round at Flushing Meadows in 2013.

14. Petra Kvitova

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    Age 23, Czech Republic, Ranked 9

    Summer Results: Carlsbad (Q - 120 pts), Rogers Cup (Q - 225 pts), W&S Open (R 16 - 125 pts). Total Points = 470

    Petra Kvitova tried for more during the summer hard-court season but but never made her way into a championship match during the past few months. At age 23, she can no longer be considered an ingenue, hoping to better herself with each passing season. Kvitova has the game on her racket but insists on playing not to lose rather than focusing on winning. Her confidence has apparently fled for the time being.

    Forecast for U.S. Open: Kvitova reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open in 2012. She is scheduled to compete this week in New Haven. That means there is still time for the Czech to find inspiration on the synthetic surfaces. Expect Kvitova to reach the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows.

13. Yvonne Meusburger

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    Age 29, Austria, Ranked 64

    Summer Results: Budapest (F - 200 pts), Bad Gastein (W - 280 pts). Total Points = 480.

    Yvonne Meusburger is another journeywoman from Austria who has been playing on tour for over a decade. This year, however, has been a breakout season for the Austrian who reached her highest ranking of No. 58 in July of 2013. This occurred after she won the tournament in Bad Gastein and finished as a finalist in Budapest.

    Forecast for U.S. Open: Meusburger made eight runs at the U.S. Open, reaching the main draw four times. The furthest she advanced was the second round. After failing to qualify the past two season, it would be great to see her advance to at least the third round in 2013. She deserves it.

12. Simona Halep

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    Age 21, Romania, Ranked 23

    Summer Results: Budapest (W - 280 pts), Bastad (R 16 - 30 pts), W&S Open (Q - 225) Total Points = 535.

    Simona Halep achieved her highest ranking in July of 2013 after winning in Budapest. She climbed to world No. 22 after starting the year ranked No. 47. Most recently, she reached the semifinals in Cincinnati. She continues this week playing in New Haven. She won three titles in 2013, two on clay and one on grass. Her game looks good on the hard courts, however, as she continues to improve.

    Forecast for U.S. Open: In her four appearances at the U.S. Open, Halep has never advanced beyond the second round. She will enter this year’s event seeded for the first time with a chance to reach week No. 2. Expect Halep to continue to work hard, utilizing her scrappy, aggressive baseline style of play.

11. Sara Errani

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    Age 26, Italy, Ranked 5

    Summer Results: Palermo (F - 200 pts), Rogers Cup (Q - 225 pts), W&S Open (R 16 - 125 pts). Total Points = 550.

    Sara Errani has enjoyed moderate success this summer even though her best surface remains clay. She is the No. 1 seed at New Haven, the last WTA tournament before the U.S. Open begins. Errani has not quite equalled her results from 2012, but she remains consistently competitive.

    Forecast for U.S. Open: Last year Errani reached the semifinals in Flushing Meadows before losing to Serena Williams. With her speed around the court and her high first serve percentage, Errani should advance to week two at this year’s Open but against the big power players, she lacks the necessary fire power to win on fast hard courts.

10. Jelena Jankovic

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    Age 28, Serbia, Ranked 11

    Summer Results: Carlsbad (R 16 - 60 pts), Rogers Cup (R 16 - 125 pts), W&S Open (S - 395) Total Points = 580.

    During her week in Cincinnati, Jelena Jankovic looked like the player she was back in 2008 when she achieved the No. 1 ranking. She was firing on all cylinders, hitting groundstrokes deep, skirting lines and dictating points. She finally fell to eventual champion Victoria Azarenka in their semifinal contest. But she climbed to the No. 11 spot and has plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about her chances at Flushing Meadows.

    Forecast for U.S. Open: After reaching the final of the U.S. Open in 2008, Jankovic has not advanced beyond the third round. This year expect her to turn this around by reaching the Week 2. Buoyed by her recent success, Jankovic will do her utmost to climb back into the women’s top 10 in tennis.

9. Magdalena Rybarikova

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    Age 24, Slovakia, Ranked 31

    Summer Results: Washington DC (W - 280 pts), Rogers Cup (Q - 225 points), W&S Open (R 16 - 125 pts). Total Points = 630.

    Magdalena Rybarikova achieved her highest ranking during the summer of 2013 after Wimbledon concluded. She managed to defend her title in Washington D.C. and follow that up by doing well at the Rogers Cup and in Cincinnati, finally losing to Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, respectively. She did withdraw from New Haven, however, with a back injury. Hopefully, that will not impede the rest of her season.

    Forecast for U.S. Open: Sporting an all-around game, Rybarikova is comfortable playing on any surface. With her game on the rise, expect the Slovakian to do well at the Open this year. She loves the challenge and remains composed under pressure. If her back improves enough to allow her to play, expect her to reach week No. 2—especially since she will be seeded this year.

8. Dominika Cibulkova

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    Age 24, Slovakia, Ranked 19

    Summer Results: Stanford (W - 470 pts), Rogers Cup (Q - 225 pts). Total Points = 695.

    The diminutive Cibulkova took the title at Stanford defeating Agnieszka Radwanska in the final and then reached the quarters at the Rogers Cup. No player relishes the prospect of facing her in the draw because Cibulkova makes you work very hard to get past her. She has proven her abilities time and again on all surfaces.

    Forecast for U.S. Open: Cibulkova has played the U.S. Open five times. Her best result to date was reaching the quarterfinals in 2010. The human dynamo remains a threat, but her height eventually shortens her court life as she faces the big power players later in the draw. Cibulkova will do well to reach the quarters again in 2013.

7. Samantha Stosur

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    Age 29, Australia, Ranked 13

    Summer Results: Carlsbad (W - 470 pts), Rogers Cup (R 16 - 125 pts), W&S Open (R 16 - 125) Total Points = 720.

    Samantha Stosur had a decent outing after Wimbledon. She won the title in Carlsbad and reached the round of 16 at both Toronto and Cincinnati. Hard courts are much more conducive to her style of play than the vagrant bounces so prevalent on grass. At age 29, the Aussie shows no signs of relenting as she seeks to excel during the rest of the season. After all, hard courts are her favorite playing surface.

    Forecast for the U.S. Open: A former champion at Flushing Meadows, Stosur gladly returns to the Deco Turf she’s mastered. She captured the title in 2011, defeating Serena Williams in the final, displaying amazing composure in the waning moments of that match. Last year she reached the quarterfinals, losing to the No. 1 seed, Victoria Azarenka. Expect to see Stosur standing during the final rounds of the U.S. Open again in 2103.

6. Roberta Vinci

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    Age 30, Italy, Ranked 12

    Summer Results: Palermo (W - 280 pts), Carlsbad (Q - 120 pts), Rogers Cup (R 16 - 125 pts), W&S Open (Q- 225) Total Points = 750.

    Mature Italian women remain a force to be reckoned with. We witnessed Francesca Schiavone win her first major title at age 30, capturing the French Open in 2010. Likewise, Roberta Vinci seems to be improving right before our eyes just as her countrywoman did a few years ago. Vinci continues to rise in the ranks and enjoy new-found success. After defeating her doubles partner Sara Errani to take the title in Palermo, Vinci came back to do well during the U.S. hard-court season.

    Forecast for the U.S. Open: Vinci had her best results to date at the 2012 U.S. Open reaching the quarterfinals of that event. There is no reason to expect less from the Italian at this year’s tournament which begins in Flushing Meadows at the end of this month.

5. Li Na

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    Age 31, China, Ranked 5

    Summer Results: Rogers Cup (S - 395 pts), S & W Open (S - 395) Total Points = 790.

    When Li Na reached the round of eight at Wimbledon in 2013, she repeated her best result since 2006 on the storied lawns of the All England Club. After taking the rest of July off, Li returned to action at the Rogers Cup and Cincinnati in order to fine-tune her hard-court game. She will be primed to do battle once again during the last major of the season.

    Forecast for U.S. Open: With reportedly the fastest surface of the majors, Li has never done particularly well at the U.S. Open. Reaching the quarterfinals in 2009 marks her best result to date. This year, after reaching the finals in Melbourne, Li will enter Flushing Meadows with her focus firmly fixed on the finish line. As her career winds down, she has put her game into perspective. Li, however, will stretch to reach the quarterfinals, praying to go one more step. 

4. Sorana Cirstea

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    Age 23, Romania, Ranked 21

    Summer Results: Stanford (S - 200 pts), Washington DC (Q - 70 pts), Rogers Cup (F - 620 pts). Total Points = 890.

    After starting 2013 ranked world No. 52, the summer season has been very productive for the Romanian. She shot up to world No. 21 after a magnificent run in Canada, stopped only by the great Serena Williams in the final. Cirstea has indeed come into her own during the summer of 2013.

    Forecast for U.S. Open: The question remains—can she continue to improve at Flushing Meadows or will this brief dip into the top 30 be short-lived? Chances are if her serve is on, Cristea will continue to do well against lower-ranked players who do not serve well or who do not strike the ball with much power. She is quick but not always a good mover on court. Given the right draw, however, the Romanian could easily advance to the second week at the Open.

3. Agnieszka Radwanska

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    Age 24, Poland, Ranked 4

    Summer Results: Stanford (F-320 pts), Carlsbad (Q - 120 pts), Rogers Cup (S-395 pts), W&S Open (Q-225) Total Points = 1,060.

    After losing to Sabine Lisicki in the Wimbledon semifinals, Agnieszka Radwanska undoubtedly suffered supreme disappointment because she had many chances to win that encounter. She has managed to bounce back, however, enjoying a productive summer on the hard courts. Radwanska came in third behind Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams in total results. With the anticipated decline of Sharapova, expect Radwanska to move up a spot on the WTA rankings. 

    Forecast for U.S. Open: Although she’s reached the quarterfinals or better at every other Grand Slam event, Radwanska has never advanced that far at the U.S. Open. It may be because the Deco Turf is reportedly the fastest Grand Slam surface of the year. Developing a little more pop on her serve, however, may help Radwanska achieve that this year. Expect Radwanska to advance at least to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows in 2013.

2. Victoria Azarenka

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    Age 24, Belarus, Ranked 2

    Summer Results: Carlsbad (F - 320 pts), W&S Open (W - 900) Total Points = 1,220.

    After suffering a bad fall at Wimbledon in her opening round match, Azarenka did not play much tennis during the 2013 summer season. This seemed obvious during several of her early contests this past week in Cincinnati. But as the matches progressed, Azarenka's confidence grew and her serve improved. This aided her in capturing the title in Cincinnati after losing the opening set to Serena Williams in a very exciting final. 

    Forecast for U.S. Open: Azarenka is playing her way into form heading into the 2013 U.S. Open. After a fairly low number of matches, Azarenka will feel confident after competing well against her chief rival, Serena Williams. Moving on to the U.S. Open where she reached the final in 2012, expect Azarenka to do her utmost to win this championship. No doubt, the world No. 2 will be one of the four left standing at the close of this event.

1. Serena Williams

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    Age 31, USA, Ranked 1

    Summer Results: Swedish Open (W-280 pts), (Rogers Cup (W-900 pts), W&S Open (F-620) Total Points = 1,800.

    After losing in the fourth round at Wimbledon to Sabine Lisicki, Serena Williams rolled through the summer season on both clay and hard courts securing her number one ranking as well as the No. 1 seed at Flushing Meadows. Although she appeared a bit shaky at times, Williams generally won, utilizing her vast experience and her immense talent. Winning the Premiere tournament in Canada and reaching the final in Cincinnati bodes well for the former U.S. Open champion.

    Forecast for U.S. Open: As defending champion Williams will do everything in her power to defend her title at Flushing Meadows. Entering the tournament as the No. 1 seed, she looks to be very hard to beat. After surviving the summer undefeated until the final in Cincinnati, no doubt Williams can handle anything her opponents can throw at her. She’s won the Open four times and would love to make it five. This will make her fourteenth appearance at Flushing Meadows. Expect Williams to dominate the Open after her recent loss and return to the winners circle again.