WTA Rankings Updates February 20th 2023 – Azarenka and Samsonova Edge Closer to Top 10

The previous week was somewhat quiet on the WTA Tour with the exception of one explosive tournament – The Qatar Open 2023. As some of you may be aware, this event has 500-level status, which is why many of the top players were involved. This was quite a change from the previous week in which two top-level tournaments were completed within a seven-day period. In case you missed them, these included the 250-level event in Austria as well as a 500-level event in Abu Dhabi.

Yet since I’m talking about the most recent WTA rankings update from the previous week, the only action at top of the three involved the 500-level tournament played in Doha. And when all was said and done, it was Iga Swiatek who took the title, which simply cemented her place as the world’s number one to an even greater degree. Then again, this wasn’t exactly a surprise given how successful Swiatek has been on outdoor hard courts over the last 12-18 months.

WTA rankings updates Feb 20th 2023

Furthermore, as touched upon previously, it wasn’t just Swiatek who enjoyed a good week in Doha. Other top plays like Pegula, Sakkarai, Bencic, and Kudermetova also put in solid performances. But what does all of this mean for the WTA rankings updates? Let’s break it down right now.

WTA Rankings Updates – Week Commencing February 20th

Besides a few Challenger events, the main tournament that influenced the rankings for the previous week was the Qatar Open. As referenced above, with this being the most prestigious tournament for the period covering February 13th – February 18th, all eyes were on Doha for some thrilling action. And due to the results that came to fruition in this event, there has been a clear impact on the WTA rankings.

The Week’s Biggest Climbers – Samsonova, Azarenka, and Alexandrova Rise

You can see the main risers of the week above, and yes – they all competed in the 2023 Qatar Open, with varying degrees of success. Starting with Samsonova, despite the fact that she has leaped up the rankings by 2 places (now number 12), she lost in the first round of the tournament in Doha. With that said, given the rolling nature of the WTA rankings, this was enough to propel her ever closer to the top 10.

Moving to Azarenka, she was obviously looking to build upon her success at the 2023 Australian Open by backing this up with a strong performance. After breezing through the opening round, however, Azarenka subsequently lost a tight three-set game to Belinda Bencic. This loss probably hurts all the more given that Bencic then gave a walkover in the next round to her opponent, Iga Swiatek. So of course, it would have been better for the tournament overall had Azarenka won and then taken on the top seed.

Yet that’s how things played out, and by simply winning a round Azarenka has jumped 3 spots to take a new ranking of number 14. And finally, I had to also mention Alexandrova. At 28 years of age, Alexandrova is banging on the door of the top 15 (now number 16) following her results in Doha. She produced a huge win in the opening round by taking down Pliskova by a score of 6-1 6-2. Alexandrova then lost to Sakkari, who was the 5th seed, so this isn’t a bad loss to be perfectly honest.

The Week’s Biggest Fallers – Ostapenko, Teichmann, and Kvitova Struggle

I should kick this section off by drawing attention to the week’s biggest faller – Ostapenko. Note that I am focusing on the top 50 here since there was just one high-level tournament played last week. Therefore, Ostapenko has suffered the biggest drop as far as the top 50 goes by falling by 6 places. She is now ranked 20 in the world, despite the fact that she did win her first-round match against Madison Keys before losing to Pegula. So she didn’t have a terrible week, but she did fail to defend points from last year.

Following the fall down the ladder by Ostapenko, it was Germany’s Teichmann who also endured a drop. Teichmann didn’t fall quite as hard as Ostapenko, but she did suffer a 4-place drop to see her take the new position of 32 in the rankings. This occurred because Teichmann had to try and qualify for Doha due to her ranking, which she failed to do. Unfortunately, she lost in the final round of the qualifiers, which meant that she also dropped points.

Finally, it was a rough week for Petra Kvitova too. While Kvitova did win her opening round in the Qatar Open, she didn’t progress any further. She took a straight sets defeat at the hands of Coco Gauff, which meant that her points tally decreased due to the rolling WTA rankings updates. As a result, Kvitova dropped from number 13 in the rankings to number 15, showing a move down the ladder of two spots.

Top Rankings Stories – Pegula Continues Striding Forward

Jessica Pegula is one of the greatest prospects on tour at the moment, and I am sure many of you would agree with that statement. She has sensational firepower and she has the confidence to match this dangerous style of tennis. And last week, Pegula made it through to the finals in Doha before losing to Iga Swiatek. Since this was a better performance than Pegula managed to produce this time last year, she managed to pick up some additional points and match her career high of number 3 in the rankings.

In my opinion, Jessica Pegula is a real threat to the top spot in the rankings if she continues on this current trajectory too. She certainly has the game to take down the best players in the world, even if she did take a heavy defeat to Iga Swiatek in the final. And while yes, her ranking only went up by one position – even that is huge once you start looking at the top 5 in the WTA rankings. 

Since there are many big tournaments coming up in the following weeks too, I’d recommend watching this space closely.

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