The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Pete’s Power Rankings: Top stars struggle with switch to hard court

July 28, 2021
Naomi Osaka pumps her fist.

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.

The summer hard-court season ramps up early this year with the Tokyo Olympics bringing (most of) the world’s best together for another big event.

The first major test of the summer proved to be a difficult one for many of the WTA’s stars as several top players tripped at the first hard-court hurdle in this busy summer.

Upside for them, a little more rest and an early trip back to North America. Upside for the players still competing in Tokyo, confidence and momentum.

Now that the summer hard-court season as truly arrived, here are the WTA Power Rankings:

(Please note these were written on Tuesday after the Round of 16 in Tokyo but before the quarter-finals and do not reflect quarter-final results)

*Asterisk denotes player still alive in the Olympics

PETE’S WTA TOUR POWER RANKINGS – Week of July 26, 2021

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

She may have lost in the first round of the Olympics, but Barty is still the number one player in the world and coming off a Wimbledon victory. Given her health issues in the lead up to Wimbledon, you can chalk this loss up to exhaustion.

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

The Wimbledon runner-up started her hard-court season strongly by reaching the third round of the Olympics. That bodes well as the tour shifts to the hard courts where Pliskova has historically played well.

3.Barbora KrejcikovaChange: +5
2021 Record: 36-11 (3 Titles)Actual Rank: 11Last Week Result: Olympics – R3

Ok seriously, where has Krejcikova been all these years? A title two weeks ago in Prague and now she cruised into the last sixteen at the Olympics. It is strange to think that she is still outside the Top 10 in the WTA rankings, although probably not for long.

And that’s what Power Rankings are for.

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

Elle est de retour ! Osaka a fait bonne figure lors de ses deux premiers matchs après une pause du circuit, même si elle a échoué au troisième tour des Jeux olympiques. Un peu normal après deux mois sans disputer de matchs.  

Il n’y a aucune raison de croire qu’elle ne pourra pas dominer sur le ciment comme elle l’a fait au cours des 12 derniers mois.

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

Given how well she had played through the spring, Jabeur’s first round loss in Tokyo was pretty surprising. It was only her second time in 2021 failing to reach the round of sixteen at a tournament, but that consistency warrants the benefit of the doubt.

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

An early loss in Tokyo left the young Pole in tears on the court, but given her consistency since winning last year’s French Open, she should be able to bounce back quickly on the hard courts where she first broke onto the tour in 2019.

7.Aryna SabalenkaChange: -4
2021 Record: 35-12 (2 Titles)Actual Rank: 3Last Week Result: Olympics – R2

If Sabalenka alternates between good results and bad ones, which seems to be the case after her semi-final run at Wimbledon followed by her second-round loss in Tokyo, she should bounce back well in Montreal in a couple of weeks time.

8.Elena RybakinaChange: +4
2021 Record: 22-13 Actual Rank: 20Last Week Result: Olympics – SF*

Rybakina’s great play in big tournaments carried into Tokyo this week as she has cruised into the Olympic quarter-finals without dropping a set. With the draw opening up, she is definitely one to watch.

9.Maria SakkariChange: +4
2021 Record: 24-12Actual Rank: 19Last Week Result: Olympics – R3

The Greek started to look more like the player that reached the Roland Garros semi-finals this week as she scored two impressive wins before falling to the higher-ranked Elina Svitolina. It was a good showing after a disappointing Wimbledon.

10.Elina SvitolinaChange: Return to List
2021 Record: 23-13Actual Rank: 6Last Week Result: Olympics – SF*

Finally, Svitolina is living up to her ranking. The world number six has struggled mightily this year, especially in the big tournaments, and while her wins in Tokyo have not been dominant, she’s gotten the job done and is the highest-ranked player left in the draw.

11.Belinda BencicChange: Return to List
2021 Record: 20-14Actual Rank: 12Last Week Result: Olympics – SF*

Another bounce-back, Bencic has looked really strong in Tokyo this week, especially in her impressive comeback win to take down Krejcikova in the third round. Could this run help Bencic find some confidence and consistency?

12.Cori GauffChange: -6
2021 Record: 31-12 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 25Last Week Result: Did Not Play

The biggest disappointment this week has to go to poor Gauff, who was forced to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19. At least Gauff is only 17 and should have multiple chances to play at the Olympics. What we don’t know is how the illness will affect the rest of her season.

13.Angelique KerberChange: -9
2021 Record: 19-11 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 21Last Week Result: Did Not Play

Kerber took a pass on the Olympics, which means it will be over a month since her last match when she plays again. Her last tournament was a semi-final run at Wimbledon, so she should be confident heading into the summer. But keeping momentum going without playing can be challenging.

14.Victoria AzarenkaChange: -5
2021 Record: 15-5Actual Rank: 14Last Week Result: Did Not Play

Last year, Azarenka’s renaissance peaked during the summer hard courts when she won Cincinnati and reached the final of the US Open. Her form has been erratic over recent months but a return to the hard courts will be an opportunity for her to settle down, and settle in, and contend for some big titles where she played well a year ago.

15.Serena WilliamsChange: -5
2021 Record: 12-5Actual Rank: 16Last Week Result: Did Not Play

As of now, Williams is expected to return in Cincinnati. This is in line with what her coach Patrick Mouratoglou suggested would happen after her Wimbledon injury, so assuming she plays, that bodes well for her health and her bid for Slam No. 24 in New York.

Off the list:

  • Madison Keys (Did not play)
  • Sofia Kenin (Did not play)
  • Karolina Muchova (Did not play)
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