Our guest columnist, sportswriter and author David Fearnhead gives us the lowdown on the biggest movers in the WTA rankings for the beginning of March 2015, with focus on the Czech Republic’s historic success of having four players in the Top 20, and the lessons we can learn from the new Acapulco champion Timea Bacsinszky.
Lucie Safarova is the most notable mover on the latest WTA rankings. Whilst there is no change to the Top 10, the Czech leftie is up to 11th from 15th. Known for her striking, mascara-enhanced eyes, the attractive 28-year-old proved a doll-faced assassin in Doha by carrying her form from winning the Grand Slam doubles in Australia to singles triumph in Qatar.
Safarova beat an impressive path to the Doha final, putting aside Aussie Sam Stosur and then defeating Australian Open semifinalist and world No.9 Ekaterina Makarova. Andrea Petkovic, fresh from claiming a walkover title in Antwerp was downed in straight sets by the Czech, before her fellow Antwerp finalist Carla Suárez Navarro suffered a similar fate.
Going into the final Victoria Azarenka was favourite, having defeated Safarova in all six of their previous meetings, four of which were on hardcourt. Safarova had not won a tour singles final since her 2013 victory in Québec. That all changed in Doha with an impressive 6-4 6-3 win in the title match. Her reward was a healthy cheque of $124,000 and 470 ranking points.
Czech women’s tennis is breaking all kind of records. Having fielded nine players into the main draw at last year’s Wimbledon, four were still standing by the final 16. And now another record has gone. With Petra Kvitova holding firm at 4, Safarova up to 11, and Karolina Pliskova at 15, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova has become a record fourth Czech player into the Top 20, as she moves from 22 to 20.
American Madison Keys has also moved up a place to 18th in the world and Chinese Peng Shuai is up two places from 21st to 19th. Azarenka’s efforts have also been rewarded, as she attempts to regain her rightful place in the Top 10, moving ten places from 48 to 38.
And finally a very honourable mention to Timea Bacsinszky. The Swiss player is at a career-high of just outside the Top 30, moving from 37th to 31st place. The likeable 25-year-old has battled back from one of the worst career slumps in the sport. Struck down by a series of injuries, she’d dropped as low as 578 in the world by April 2012, and even contemplated hanging up her racket for good in 2013. Thankfully for tennis fans she rebuilt her team, and her game. Timea is proof positive that if you are prepared to fight for it, you can achieve it. (photos: Jimmie48)