RTS Update: Nastia Into The Running
Published February 03, 2014 12:11
The four players at the top of the Road To Singapore standings didn't budge this week - Li Na, Dominika Cibulkova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Eugenie Bouchard, the last four standing at the Aussie Open - but there was a lot of movement just beneath them after results from Paris and Pattaya.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova made a massive jump, going from No.36 to No.9 after winning her first Premier-level title in Paris. She has come close to qualifying for the WTA Championships before, finishing 2011 at No.16 on the WTA Rankings, but could this be the year she finally makes it?
"I'm really happy with how I started this year so far, so I'm just looking forward to keeping it up," Pavlyuchenkova said. "What makes this special is it's the biggest one I've won so far, and of course to beat so many good players gives me more confidence. But I still have to keep working hard."
Pavlyuchenkova beat three Top 10 players en route to the title in the City Of Light and all three also made significant moves up the standings, with Angelique Kerber going from No.8 to No.5, Maria Sharapova going from No.14 to No.10 and Sara Errani going from No.52 to No.14. All three of those players have been to the WTA Championships multiple times before and are hoping to keep that up.
"I think my year has started well," Kerber, who played her first two WTA Championships the last two years, said. "I've had a lot of good matches and I'm feeling good at the start of the season right now.
"It was difficult coming from Melbourne to Paris but I think I made the adjustment well."
"Even though I lost in the final, I'm still very happy with my tournament here," Errani, who also played her first two WTA Championships the last two years, commented. "It was tough losing early in Australia but I played some very good matches from the first round here and I'm feeling good now."
Sharapova has had by far the most success of the three at the WTA Championships, winning the title in 2004 and reaching two more finals in 2007 (falling to Justine Henin) and 2012 (falling to Serena Williams). She's hoping her Road To Singapore brings her to the season finale for the seventh time.
In Paris, however, Sharapova fell in a nail-biter to Pavlyuchenkova in the semifinals, her second semifinal of the year - she was also a semifinalist at Brisbane (where she fell to Williams).
"The more I put myself in this position and get to the later rounds, the more challenges lay ahead of me, but that's why I love this sport and that's why I worked so hard to come back," she said.
"The challenges will only help me towards the rest of the year."
Ekaterina Makarova, who won the Pattaya City title, went from No.17 to No.13 on the standings.
Errani and Vinci still lead the Road To Singapore leaderboard in doubles with a healthy lead over the next-closest team, Makarova and Elena Vesnina. The Italians have 2490 points, the Russians 1301.