The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Pete’s Power Rankings: French Open shakes up WTA Tour

June 10, 2021
Maria Sakkari waves to the crowd

Photo : Clèment Mahoudeau/FFT

Be honest, you did not see the results of this French Open coming.

A new major champion? Ok, that would have been a fair prediction. There has been a lot of precedent for that lately.

But only one member of the top 20 reaching the semi-finals? And no one from the top 10? Come on, even by WTA standards, that is crazy.

This fortnight could go down as one of the wildest ever where the big guns struggled severely and a bunch of unheralded players took advantage. So what can we learn from that as the clay court season reaches its climax?

Here are our mid-French Open WTA Tour power rankings:

(* Asterisk denotes player is still active in the tournament)

PETE’S WTA TOUR POWER RANKINGS – Week of June 7, 2021

1.Iga ŚwiątekChange: +1
2021 Record: 23-6 (2 Titles)Actual Rank: 9Last Week Result: Roland Garros – QF

While she failed to repeat, Świątek was the last member of the Top 10 standing at Roland Garros and looked great through her first four matches before falling to Maria Sakkari. Even in defeat, she has set herself up for a long run of success.

And if you are worried about her clay game translating to grass, do not forget that Świątek is former junior Wimbledon champion.

2.Cori GauffChange: +3
2021 Record: 27-10 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 25Last Week Result: Roland Garros – QF

If you are not on the Gauff train yet, get on board. She’s the real deal. She reached her maiden major quarter-final this week at the tender age of 17, doing so without dropping a set. She even took out two fellow seeds before ultimately falling to Barbora Krejcikova.

Gauff has reached the quarter-finals or better at six of her last eight events, proving to be one of the most consistent women on the wildly unpredictable WTA Tour.

3.Serena WilliamsChange: +8
2021 Record: 12-4Actual Rank: 8Last Week Result: Roland Garros – R4

A fourth-round appearance may not be the most inspiring result, but given Williams’ results on clay earlier this year, it was a solid showing from the American legend at her least successful Slam. She showed some good form and some serious fight, which bodes well heading into a part of the year where she has historically been more successful.

4.Sofia KeninChange: +10
2021 Record: 10-9Actual Rank: 5Last Week Result: Roland Garros – R4

After an abysmal start to 2021, Kenin finally started to find the form that saw her reach a pair of major finals in 2020. It was hardly a clean performance, needing three sets in two of her victories, but seeing as she had not won a match on clay in 2021 and was sub-500 overall, just getting to round four was a huge step in the right direction for the 22-year-old.

5.Ashleigh BartyChange: -4
2021 Record: 28-6 (3 Titles)Actual Rank: 1Last Week Result: Roland Garros – R2

The question marks are now flying around the world No. 1 after she retired in the second round of Roland Garros with an injury. It was not entirely unexpected, given that she pulled out of Rome with an injury in her final tune-up event. But the fact that the Rome and Roland Garros injuries were unrelated gives real cause for concern.

6.Maria SakkariChange: New to List
2021 Record: 21-9Actual Rank: 18Last Week Result: Roland Garros – SF*

Finally, it is Maria Sakkari’s time.

The Greek is no stranger to winning big matches, but she had never done it at a Slam before. At this year’s French Open, she used her big-hitting game to blast both of last year’s finalists, Kenin and Świątek, off the court in consecutive matches to reach her first career Grand Slam semi-final in her 21st appearance at a major. She was the highest-ranked player to reach the semi-finals and the last member of the top 20 left in the draw.

7.Aryna SabalenkaChange: -4
2021 Record: 27-8 (2 Titles)Actual Rank: 4Last Week Result: Roland Garros – R3

If this was the most unpredictable women’s major in recent memory, one somewhat predictable event was another early loss for Sabalenka.

After a great clay court swing, there was reason to believe that this could be the time the Belarusian finally breaks through at a major. But no. After a pair of straight-set wins, Sabalenka bowed out in round three to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets.

With so much power and the ability to blow opponents off the court, it is hard to believe that the Belarusian will not break through eventually, and possibly soon with the tour moving to quicker surfaces.

8.Elina SvitolinaChange: -3
2021 Record: 21-10Actual Rank: 6Last Week Result: Roland Garros – R3

Svitolina’s third round loss is slightly redeemed by the fact that her conqueror, Krejcikova, went on to take out Gauff and Sloane Stephens on her way to the semi-finals.

Still, if you are Svitolina, it is hard not to look at it and think this could have been your opportunity to break through. Still, she can be counted on to win a few matches at every event, which is more than can be said of a lot of players.

9.Victoria AzarenkaChange: New to List
2021 Record: 9-3Actual Rank: 16Last Week Result: Roland Garros – R4

A Belarusian reaching the last sixteen in Paris? Not really a surprise. The fact that it was Azarenka and not Sabalenka? A little more surprising.

The former world No. 1 had withdrawn mid-tournament from three of her five events in 2021 (yes, she had only played five events in 2021 prior to Roland Garros), but looked solid in Paris, reaching the fourth round for the first time since 2013. She lived up to her seeding and is picking up her game heading into a stronger part of the season for her.

10.Anastasia PavlyuchenkovaChange: New to List
2021 Record: 14-9Actual Rank: 32Last Week Result: Roland Garros – SF*

Lucky number seven.

A decade after reaching her first Grand Slam quarter-final, also at the French Open, Pavlyuchenkova finally broke through to reach her first slam semi-final after falling in her first six major quarter-finals.

She did it by besting the Belarusians, both Azarenka and Sabalenka, bageling the latter in the third set, before outlasting Elena Rybakina 9-7 in the third to reach that elusive semi-final.

11.Sloane StephensChange: New to List
2021 Record: 12-11Actual Rank: 59Last Week Result: Roland Garros – R4

Is she back? It feels like a lifetime ago that Stephens won the US Open and reached the French Open final, but after a few years in the wilderness, the American has slipped below the radar.

But she reappeared at this year’s event, knocking off ninth seed Karolina Pliskova and 18th seed Karolina Muchova on her way to her first round of sixteen at a slam in two years.

12.Barbora KrejcikovaChange: New to List
2021 Record: 24-9 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 33Last Week Result: Roland Garros – SF*

Prior to this year’s French Open, Krejcikova had only ever appeared in four Grand Slam singles main draws, although she did reach the fourth round of the French Open last fall.

But the two-time major doubles champion looked comfortable all alone out there one the court, beating three seeded opponents on her way to her first Grand Slam singles semi-final. More impressive, she lost the opening set of her first-round match and has not lost one since. The question is now whether Krejcikova can keep her strong singles form going.

13.Tamara ZidansekChange: New to List
2021 Record: 20-10Actual Rank: 85Last Week Result: Roland Garros – SF*

The Slovenian was two points away from defeat in the opening round when Bianca Andreescu served for the match, but she broke serve, went on to win 9-7 in the third set and has not looked back, fighting all the way to her first major semi-final.

It is worth noting though that Andreescu was the only Top 30 player Zidansek had to face, so it will be interesting to see if she can keep this level up against tougher competition that will come with her much-improved ranking as a result of this event.

14.Elise MertensChange: -6
2021 Record: 22-8Actual Rank: 15Last Week Result: Roland Garros – R3

The Belgian may have lost in the third round, but given that her loss was to Sakkari, it can be forgiven. In fact, Mertens is the only player in the first five rounds to get a set off of the powerful Greek. Not even Świątek managed that.

15.Simona HalepChange: New to List
2021 Record: 11-5Actual Rank: 3Last Week Result: DNP

She’s baaaaaaaaaack.

Or at least she will be. We now know when the world No. 3 will return.

Halep announced this week that she will compete at the Bad Homburg Open in mid-June, her first event since suffering a calf injury. If all goes well, the 2019 Wimbledon champion should be back and ready to defend her title at the All-England Club.

Off the List

  • Naomi Osaka (Withdrew in Roland Garros R2 and will be out indefinitely)
  • Bianca Andreescu (Lost in Roland Garros R1 to Tamara Zidansek in three sets)
  • Karolina Pliskova (Lost in Roland Garros R2 to Sloane Stephens in straight sets)
  • Petra Kvitova (Withdrew in Roland Garros R2)
  • Garbine Muguruza (Lost in Roland Garros R1 to Marta Kostyuk in straight sets)
  • Belinda Bencic (Lost in Roland Garros R2 to Daria Kasatkina in straight sets)
  • Petra Martic (Lost in Roland Garros R1 to Camila Giorgi in three sets)
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