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Pete’s Power Rankings: Bencic, Svitolina on the rise after Olympics

August 3, 2021
Belinda Bencic holds up her Olympic gold medal.

Photo : Kopatsch/Sato/Sidorjak

Welcome to Pete’s Power Rankings, where we paint a picture of the WTA Tour by looking at recent results and ranking players based on their current form, rather than the WTA’s point system.

The power rankings will be updated weekly all the way up to the Omnium Banque Nationale.

In a bizarre Olympic year, it only makes sense that the results in Tokyo were a little surprising.

The legacy of these Olympics could take some time to be determined, as the medallist were mainly players who have constantly faced high expectations, but have struggled to live up to them.

If Belinda Bencic, Marketa Vondrousova, and Elina Svitolina go on to win even bigger titles, Tokyo will be remembered as the moment when they finally reached the next level.

In the meantime, how has their Olympic success affected their short-term expectations? Let’s break it down in the WTA Power Rankings:

PETE’S WTA TOUR POWER RANKINGS – Week of August 2, 2021

1.Ashleigh BartyChange: –
2021 Record: 35-7 (4 Titles)Actual Rank: 1Last Week Result: Olympics – R1

A first-round loss at the Olympics in singles and a withdrawal from Montreal is not an encouraging start to Barty’s hard-court season, but she already has two titles on the surface in 2021, including a win in the last big event of the spring in Miami.

Barty should bounce back and is the top player until someone can challenge her with consistency.

Photo : Kopatsch/Sato/Sidorjak

Oh, and she got a bronze in the mixed doubles anyway so she has some winning matches under her belt, albeit in a different competition.

2.Karolina PliskovaChange: –
2021 Record: 23-14Actual Rank: 7Last Week Result: Olympics – R3

Pliskova has a good record at the summer hard court events and should have confidence after her run to the Wimbledon final. However, the momentum will have been stunted after a third-round loss to Camila Giorgi at the Olympics so she will be looking to re-find that Wimbledon form.

3.Barbora KrejcikovaChange: –
2021 Record: 36-11 (3 Titles)Actual Rank: 11Last Week Result: Olympics – R3

A new part of the season for Krejcikova looms in singles, but she has two hard-court titles in 2021, including in Prague in July, so there is little to suggest that she will not be a threat all summer. She did lose in the third round of the Olympics, but her conqueror went on to win the gold medal so don’t read too much into it.

4.Naomi OsakaChange: –
2021 Record: 16-4 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 2Last Week Result: Olympics – R3

Osaka claimed the biggest prize on hard courts so far this year by winning the Australian Open, but that is getting to be a while ago now and her Olympic performance, a third-round loss, left something to be desired. However, that was her first match in two months and some rust should not be surprising.

As she gets matches under her belt, she should pick up steam and when Osaka is on her game, she is arguably the best player in the world on hard courts.

5.Belinda BencicChange: +6
2021 Record: 23-14Actual Rank: 12Last Week Result: Olympics – Gold

It was a long time coming, but Bencic has finally claimed a big title. It is not a major, but it is the next best thing.

The Swiss had to earn it, winning four straight three-setters on her way to the gold medal in Tokyo. If anything, the difficulty of her tournament makes the win even more impressive.

Now can Bencic turn this win into confidence and consistency? She has been knocking on the door for over half a decade. Is this the moment she starts to fulfill her potential on a regular basis?

6.Ons JabeurChange: -1
2021 Record: 33-13 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 22Last Week Result: Olympics – R1

The afterglow of Jabeur’s great grass season faded quickly with her first-round loss at the Olympics, but now she will have had several weeks to reset and get herself going on the hard courts.

The hard courts have not been particularly kind to Jabeur this season, as she has only reached one quarter-final on the surface.

7.Iga ŚwiątekChange: -1
2021 Record: 28-9 (2 Titles)Actual Rank: 8Last Week Result: Olympics – R2

A second-round loss was not the start to the summer that Świątek would have liked, but that loss is an outlier in what has been a very consistent season for the Pole. It is worth noting that she has a hard-court title in 2021, and beat the now-Olympics gold medallist Bencic to win it.

8.Elena RybakinaChange: –
2021 Record: 23-14Actual Rank: 20Last Week Result: Olympics – 4th

Rybakina might be disappointed with letting the bronze medal slip away in a match she seemed to have wrapped up, but it is still progress for the 22-year-old who has generally played her best tennis at big events in 2021.

She is going to need to bring that good Olympic form to North America, as she struggled on the hard courts earlier in the season.

9.Aryna SabalenkaChange: -2
2021 Record: 35-12 (2 Titles)Actual Rank: 3Last Week Result: Olympics – R2

Sabalenka should be happy to come back to the hard courts after finally having a major breakthrough at Wimbledon, but her Olympics did not go as planned so she could be bringing her inconsistency with her. She could just as easily win a title as lose in the first round.

10.Elina SvitolinaChange: –
2021 Record: 27-14Actual Rank: 6Last Week Result: Olympics – Bronze

Will an Olympic bronze medal be the catalyst that Svitolina needs to finally break through at a major?

After what can only be described as a disappointing 2021, the Ukrainian finally lived up to her ranking in Tokyo and scored some gritty wins, including an impressive comeback in the third-place match. Now she has to prove that this result was not a fluke.

She has generally done well on the summer hard courts in the past so, combined with her post-Olympic momentum and confidence, Svitolina is well-positioned to re-find herself over the coming weeks.

11.Maria SakkariChange: -2
2021 Record: 24-12Actual Rank: 19Last Week Result: Olympics – R3

Sakkari’s third-round loss in Tokyo looks a little better in retrospect after Svitolina went on to win the bronze. She has three hard-court semi-finals to her name already in 2021 so she seems primed to take another step this summer.

12.Victoria AzarenkaChange: +2
2021 Record: 15-5Actual Rank: 15Last Week Result: Did Not Play

Azarenka arrives on the summer hard courts looking to re-find her form from last summer where she reached the finals of the Cincinnati and the US Open, winning the former.

She struggled a bit through the spring and her health is a bit of a question mark, as she has given away four walkovers this season, including two at hard-court events earlier this year.

13.Cori GauffChange: -1
2021 Record: 31-12 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 25Last Week Result: Did Not Play

When she is healthy, Gauff has been one of the more consistent threats on court in 2021. The thing is we do not know for sure when she will return to action on the WTA Tour after her COVID diagnosis in Tokyo, nor how she will be bounce back after the illness.

If she can recover quickly, she should bounce right back to contender status.

14.Marketa VondrousovaChange: New to List
2021 Record: 19-13Actual Rank: 42Last Week Result: Olympics – Silver

It has been a couple of years since Vondrousova was a major threat on the WTA Tour, but she has been creeping back onto the radar with some good results early in 2021. And now she burst back onto the scene with a silver medal at the Olympics.

When Vondrousova was at her peak in 2019, she was a threat at most events, including on hard courts. And given the fact that she beat Osaka and Svitolina in Tokyo, she has shown that she can hang with the best right now.

15.Angelique KerberChange: -2
2021 Record: 19-11 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 21Last Week Result: Did Not Play

Kerber will be well rested when she returns to action for the first time since Wimbledon this summer. She should be confident after her run at the All-England Club, but she has also struggled on the summer hard courts in recent years.

Off the list:

  • Serena Williams (Did not play)

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