As we head into Wimbledon and faster surfaces, we expect the Power Rankings to shift. Currently they reflect the status of the most recent play on the women's tour.
The Top 10
1. Dinara Safina; WTA Ranking: 1
Last Four Tournaments Played: Ordina Open [Semifinalist] 130 pts; Roland Garros [Finalist] 1400 pts; Madrid [Winner] 1000 pts; Rome [Winner] 800 pts; Total pts 3330.
Dinara continues to cling to the number one ranking even though she has not won that elusive first major in three self-destructive tries. Grass is not one of her favorite surfaces—so she will endure the grass and strive to go as far as possible at Wimbledon. We do not see this championship in her immediate future.
Her stellar clay court results, however, keep her at the top of the power rankings to date.
2. Svetlana Kuznetsova; WTA Ranking: 5
Last Four Tournaments Played: Aegon Int’l [1 round] 1 pt; Roland Garros [Winner] 2000 pts; Madrid [R32] 5 pts; Rome [Finalist] 550 pts. Total pts 2556.
After a spectacular rise from the ashes for Kuznetsova’s career at the 2009 French Open where she won it all, Svetlana was sent packing in the opening round of the Eastbourne Grass Court Tournament in preparation for Wimbledon. It was a disappointing loss for the French Open champ. It does not bode well for her that she lost so early, not allowing her much time or practice to fine-tune her grass court game.
We expect a decent showing for her at Wimbledon—but, like her rival Safina, grass is not Sveta’s surface of choice.
3. Caroline Wozniacki; WTA Ranking: 9
Last Four Tournaments Played: Aegon Int’l [Winner] 470 pts; Roland Garros [R32] 160 pts; Madrid [Finalist] 700 pts; Rome [R16] 110 pts. Total pts 1440.
With her outstanding performance at the Aegon International Tournament in Eastbourne, Caroline catapults the competition and slides into the number three spot in this period’s power rankings.
As a former junior champion at Wimbledon, Caroline’s star continues to rise in 2009 and we expect a strong performance from her at the All England Club. With injuries detouring Victoria Azarenka and Vera Zvonareva, Wozniacki’s recent successes have kept her near the top of the power rankings.
4. Victoria Azarenka; WTA Ranking: 8
Last Four Tournaments Played: Roland Garros [Quarterfinalist] 500 pts; Madrid [R16] 140 pts; Rome [Semifinalist] 350 pts; Stuttgart [R32] 60 pts. Total pts 1050.
Unfortunately for Azarenka, a hip injury has prevented any participation in the grass court warm up tournaments. She has been sidelined since the French Open, withdrawing from participation in the Aegon International this past week.
We shall have to employ a “wait and see” premise to assess her grass court prowess this season. Whether she can maintain her power rankings will all depend on her showing at Wimbledon.
5. Samantha Stosur; WTA Ranking: 18
Last Four Tournaments Played: Aegon Int’l [2 round] 60 pts; Roland Garros [Semifinalist] 900 pts; Madrid [R32] 80 pts; Rome [R64] 1 pt. Total pts 1041.
Aussie Samantha Stosur finally realized her immense promise at the French Open when she battled Svetlana Kuznetsova to the finish before losing her semifinal contest. On grass at the Aegon International, Stosur took out German hotshot Sabine Lisicki before falling to even hotter Caroline Wozniacki in round two.
They went three sets with Caroline virtually shutting Samantha out in the third, 6-1. But we do not feel we have heard the end of Stosur and expect her to do well on grass.
6. Dominika Cibulkova; WTA Ranking: 14
Last Four Tournaments Played: Ordina Open [1 round] 1 pt; Roland Garros [Semifinalist] 900 pts; Stuttgart [R32] 1 pt.; Charleston [Quarterfinalist] 120 pts. Total pts 1022.
After making waves at the French Open by practically bageling Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals, the feisty Slovakian faded at the Ordina Open, bowing out in the opening round. She seemed to be running true to form for all the heavy weights at the French.
All seemed to go away early in the grass court warm up tournaments held in the last two weeks. The conclusion of the grass court season at the end of the next two weeks should realign the power rankings to reflect a change to the faster surfaces.
7. Maria Sharapova; WTA Ranking: 59
Last Four Tournaments Played: [Note: Sharapova has only played in three tournaments] Aegon Classic [Semifinalist] 120 pts; Roland Garros [Quarterfinalist] 500 pts; Warsaw Open [Quarterfinalist] 120 pts. Total pts 750.
Even though Maria Sharapova has only played three events since returning from her long lay off due to her shoulder injury, she made an immediate impact upon returning. She has had no less than a quarterfinal finish in any event and she finished her grass court warm up tournament as a semifinalist.
If her service game has indeed returned, we expect Sharapova to reclaim her place at the top of the women’s game shortly despite her WTA No. 59 ranking.
8. Jelena Jankovic; WTA Ranking: 6
Last Four Tournaments Played: Aegon Int’l [1 round] 1 pt; Roland Garros [R16] 280 pts; Madrid [Quarterfinalist] 250 pts; Rome [Quarterfinalist] 200 pts. Total pts 731.
Jelena Jankovic has failed to appear in 2009—at least as we know her. She claims fatigue and injury have slowed her down. We expect her to pick up her game and her form in the last half of 2009.
Hopefully both will return in full measure allowing her to compete at her accustomed level even though the grass surface has not been one of her favorites.
9. Agnieszka Radwanska; WTA Ranking: 11
Last Four Tournaments Played: Aegon Int’l [Quarterfinalist] 120 pts; Roland Garros [R16] 280 pts; Madrid [R32] 5 pts; Rome [Quarterfinalist] 200 pts. Total pts 605.
Radwanska made it to the quarterfinals of the tune-up event in Eastbourne before falling to Virginia Razzano, an eventual finalist. Her results are not spectacular but steady and consistent. She remains close to the top 10 in the WTA rankings.
10. Agnes Szavay; WTA Ranking: 29
Last Four Tournaments Played: Roland Garros [R16] 280 pts; Madrid [Quarterfinalist] 250 pts; Rome [R64] 1 pt; Stuttgart [R16] 60 pts. Total pts 591.
Szavay seems always poised on the verge of promise. She was not able to play any of the grass court warm-up tournaments so her point count has not changed since the last power ranking.
Outside Looking In
1. Venus Williams; WTA Ranking: 3
Last Four Tournaments Played: Roland Garros [R32] 160; Madrid [R32] 5 pts; Rome [Semifinalist] 350 pts; Charleston [R16] 60 pts. Total pts 575.
Venus’ game is destined to shine during Wimbledon. Her serve, her speed, her reach, her ability to power through the ball quickly and be aggressive make Wimbledon the ideal tournament for the elder Williams sister.
She has won it five times. She is going for a record at this year’s tournament. Our money is firmly fixed on Venus to appear in the final this year.
2. Elena Dementieva; WTA Ranking: 4
Last Four Tournaments Played: Aegon Int’l [2 round] 60 pts; Roland Garros [R32] 160 pts; Madrid [R16] 140 pts; Porsche Grand Prix [Semifinalist] 200 pts. Total pts 560.
There appears to be something fundamentally missing in Dementieva’s game these days. In half a year she has faded to a shadow of her former self confident self. We wonder if she can enjoy resurgence on grass even though she fell in the second round to Virginia Razzano at Eastbourne. A strong Wimbledon showing would help her stop the slide down.
3. Serena Williams; WTA Ranking: 2
Last Four Tournaments Played: Roland Garros [Quarterfinalist] 500 pts; Madrid [R64] 5 pts; Rome [R32] 1 pt; Marbella [R32] 1 pt. Total pts 507.
Neither Serena nor Venus participated in any pre-Wimbledon tournament. Serena is, we assume, still resting her troubling knee. Grass will be far preferable to clay for Serena’s game.
This is the time of the year when Serena begins to gain momentum. As long as the knee is healthy—we expect to see Serena standing awaiting serve during the championship match.