Ranking the Top 10 Women's Players After US Open 2016

Merlisa Lawrence Corbett@@merlisaFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2016

Ranking the Top 10 Women's Players After US Open 2016

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    Angelique Kerber poses with the winning trophy after capturing the 2016 U.S. Open title.
    Angelique Kerber poses with the winning trophy after capturing the 2016 U.S. Open title.Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

    Angelique Kerber capped off the best week of her career with a win over Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 at the 2016 U.S. Open. Kerber bagged her second Grand Slam trophy and the No. 1 ranking.

    "All the dreams came true this year," she told the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium during an ESPN broadcast. 

    Kerber dethroned Serena Williams from a perch she held for a record-tying 186 consecutive weeks. But does she top Williams in these power rankings? 

    This post-U.S. Open top-10 list factors in the projected WTA Tour rankings on Monday, the singles points race or Road to Singapore, how the players performed at Flushing Meadows and their chances going into the Asian swing this fall. 

    Pliskova, seeded No. 11 at the U.S. Open, took a huge leap in the power rankings. Her loss to Kerber ended a 13-match winning streak for the Czech. 

    So we know Pliskova, Kerber and Williams made the list. But who didn't? Some players who will be in the WTA's Top 10 on Monday failed to rank here. This includes Svetlana Kuznetsova, who will be No. 10 on Monday but No. 11 on the Road to Singapore. 

    Although the Slam season is over, there's still plenty to play for this fall. Kerber and Williams are the only players who have locked down a spot in the WTA Finals. 

    As the tour heads toward the season finale, the following are the top 10 players post-U.S. Open. 

Honorable Mention: Caroline Wozniacki

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    Caroline Wozniacki hits a backhand during a semifinal match at the 2016 U.S. Open.
    Caroline Wozniacki hits a backhand during a semifinal match at the 2016 U.S. Open.TIMOTHY A. CLARY/Getty Images

    Caroline Wozniacki came into the U.S. Open unseeded and ranked No. 74. Her slide down the rankings earned her a second-round match against two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova. 

    Wozniacki's win over Kuznetsova signaled a return to the form that once propelled the Dane to the No. 1 ranking.  

    Her lackluster performance in the semifinals demonstrates she still has work to do before she's considered a Grand Slam champion contender again. 

    She'll be ranked No. 29 on Monday and could be back in the Top 20 by year's end. She gets honorable mention because her 67 consecutive weeks at No. 1 remains one of the best runs in tennis history. She's only 26. The talent is still there; she just needed to get beyond some nagging injuries. 

10. Johanna Konta

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    Johanna Konta hits a forehand during a match at the U.S. Open.
    Johanna Konta hits a forehand during a match at the U.S. Open.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Johanna Konta has first-hand knowledge of how well Pliskova and Kerber are playing this year. Each has ended Konta's run at a tournament, twice. 

    Meanwhile, Konta's having her best year on the tour. She reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open, where she lost to Anastasija Sevastova. 

    Konta's had her best success on hard courts. She won Stanford and reached the semifinals at the Australian Open. Ranked No. 10 in the singles race, Konta still has a chance to reach the WTA Finals. 

9. Madison Keys

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    Madison Keys during a match at the 2016 U.S. Open.
    Madison Keys during a match at the 2016 U.S. Open.KENA BETANCUR/Getty Images

    Madison Keys came into the U.S. Open the third-ranked American, and that's exactly how she leaves. Despite a disappointing loss to Wozniacki, Keys is still in the running to make the WTA Finals. She's ranked No. 9 on the Road to Singapore and in the official rankings. 

    Keys was an epic three-set match over Naomi Osaka before losing to Wozniacki in the fourth round. Keys said in a post-match press conference, "I definitely don't think I was playing my best. I mean, I think she played really, really well today. ... I feel like the match just got away from me."

    She's dealt with a few minor injuries this year. Perhaps she can make a final push during the Asian swing. 

8. Carla Squarez Navarro

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    Carla Suarez Navarro hits a forehand during a match at the U.S. Open.
    Carla Suarez Navarro hits a forehand during a match at the U.S. Open.Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Carla Suarez Navarro is No. 8 in the WTA rankings, the singles race and here. Her constant presence in the Top 10 is a testament to her consistency. 

    She lost to red-hot Simona Halep in the fourth round. 

    Suarez Navarro lacks a reliable serve, and this keeps her in trouble against the best players on the tour. However, her ability to stay in rallies and hit winners from her explosive one-handed backhand make her dangerous in any draw. 

7. Garbine Muguruza

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    Garbine Muguruza serves during a match at the 2016 U.S. Open.
    Garbine Muguruza serves during a match at the 2016 U.S. Open.Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

    Garbine Muguruza lost in the second round in back-to-back Grand Slams. Although ranked No. 3, she comes in at No. 7 on this list because of her poor performances since winning the French Open, where she upset then-No. 1 Serena Williams.

    After she lost her second-round match at Wimbledon, Muguruza told Tennis.com's Kamakshi Tandon,"From yesterday I felt already a little bit, you know, tired...And today during the match, and after the match, I'm like, 'It's a tough day today.'”

    She has a slim 15-point lead over Agnieszka Radwanska. A couple of more bad tournaments and Muguruza, once considered the next No. 1, will be on the outside of the Top Five. 

6. Venus Williams

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    Venus Williams hits a backhand during a fourth-round match at the 2016 U.S. Open.
    Venus Williams hits a backhand during a fourth-round match at the 2016 U.S. Open.EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/Getty Images

    Venus' run at the U.S. Open ended in the fourth round for the second year in a row. Still, she'll remain at No. 6 on Monday and comes in at the same number here.

    It's been eight years since Venus last won a Grand Slam. However, she's still No. 2 among active players in terms of Slams won. She shows flashes of the power, talent and skill that earned her seven Slam championships. However, age and perhaps her chronic illness keep her from being the closer she once was.

    Losing to Pliskova this year, and Serena last year, just means she ran into a better player.  

    Venus served for match point against Pliskova. She disappeared in the third set in the finals against Konta at Stanford. Still, she's one of the most dangerous players on the tour.

5. Agnieszka Radwanska

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    Agnieszka Radwanska makes a play on the ball during a match at the 2016 U.S. Open.
    Agnieszka Radwanska makes a play on the ball during a match at the 2016 U.S. Open.DON EMMERT/Getty Images

    Agnieszka Radwanska came into the U.S. Open with an outside chance at gaining the No. 1 ranking. She had won in New Haven and needed to reach the finals and hope that Serena and Kerber would falter early. Instead, Radwanska was the first of the three to exit. 

    She lost to 18-year-old Ana Konjuh in straight sets in the fourth round. Radwanska jumps one spot up to No. 4, ahead of Halep on the WTA rankings. She comes in at No. 5 here because, despite her one move up in the rankings, she's two spots behind Halep in points earned this year. 

    The two women have much in common. Both have reached a Grand Slam final and still seek their first major title. But the edge goes to Halep, who fell to Serena in three sets. Unseeded Konjuh took out Radwanska in two.

4. Simona Halep

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    Simona Halep hits a forehand during a quarterfinals match at the 2016 U.S. Open.
    Simona Halep hits a forehand during a quarterfinals match at the 2016 U.S. Open.EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/Getty Images

    In her final post-match press conference, Halep looked unusually happy for someone who just lost in the quarterfinals. Despite the loss, the Romanian seemed pleased with her performance. 

    "I could play better in those moments when I had chances. But I think the level was pretty high. I'm ok with the way that I was fighting till the end. It's something normal now for me, so it's a good thing," Halep told reporters.

    It was a hard-fought match, but because her tournament ended in the quarterfinals this year, instead of the semifinals, Halep failed to defend her points. A win would have clinched her a spot in the year-end tournament. 

    Still, she is clearly playing solid tennis now and finding ways to compete with the best players. Her loss to Kerber in Cincinnati and to Williams at Flushing Meadows should help her gauge how much work she needs to do to beat the best.

3. Karolina Pliskova

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    Karolina Pliskova tries a backhand slice during the final of the 2016 U.S. Open.
    Karolina Pliskova tries a backhand slice during the final of the 2016 U.S. Open.TIMOTHY A. CLARY/Getty Images

    Until August, Pliskova was just a pretty solid young player with a big serve. Now she's a Grand Slam finalist who played an integral part in the race for No. 1.   

    Last month in Cincinnati, she defeated Kerber and kept her from taking the No. 1 spot. That allowed Williams to tie Steffi Graf for most consecutive wins at No. 1. When she defeated Williams in the semifinals, she delivered the No. 1 ranking to Kerber. 

    Now that she has a Slam final under her belt, Pliskova joins Muguruza, Halep, Kerber and Radwanska as the top contenders not named Williams going into the Australian Open. 

2. Serena Williams

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    Serena Williams volleys during a quarterfinals match at the 2016 U.S. Open.
    Serena Williams volleys during a quarterfinals match at the 2016 U.S. Open.EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/Getty Images

    Serena Williams falls to No. 2 for the first time in 186 weeks. She's also No. 2 here mostly due to how little she's played. Skipping tournaments left the door open for Kerber to snatch the No. 1 ranking away. 

    Excluding the Olympics, Kerber has played in 17 tournaments this year. Meanwhile, Serena's only competed in eight. Last year, Williams shut down her season after the U.S. Open and forfeited more than 1,500 points.

    She also gave up points by missing Cincinnati, Madrid, Stanford and the Rogers Cup this year. Had she won just two of those premier tournaments, she'd still be No. 1. 

    Williams hasn't said whether she will finish out this year or rest for next season. With no points to defend, she could make a run at finishing the year at No. 1. For now, she's No. 2.

1. Angelique Kerber

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    Angelique Kerber hits a running forehand during the final of the 2016 U.S. Open.
    Angelique Kerber hits a running forehand during the final of the 2016 U.S. Open.Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

    When Pliskova took the second set in the final of the U.S. Open, she put the pressure back on Kerber, who had no intention of getting off to a losing start before officially becoming the new No. 1. 

    No true champion wants to back into the top spot. Kerber wanted to earn it, and she did. 

    Having already won the Australian Open, Kerber would not have to deal with the paper-tiger tag stamped on Wozniacki and Dinara Safina, Slam-less No. 1 players.  

    Yes, Serena Williams played far fewer tournaments. However, Kerber played her way to No. 1 by reaching three Slam finals and winning two, more than any other player, including Williams. 

    Now she goes from the hunter to the hunted. If Williams decides to compete for the year-end No. 1 ranking, this will be the most intriguing fall in years. 

    As it stands, right now, Kerber is the undisputed No. 1 player. 

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