Wuhan champion Aryna Sabalenka and runner-up Anett Kontaveit have both scaled new ranking heights, while 17-year-olds Anastasia Potapova and Olga Danilovic have gatecrashed the Top 100 - and further down, there are big leaps for Margarita Gasparyan and Wang Xiyu.
Alex Macpherson
October 1, 2018

Aryna Sabalenka simply isn't slowing down.

Indeed, the higher the Belarusian gets, the faster she is accelerating towards the highest echelon of the sport. This time last year, she was ranked World No.101, and would not break the Top 100 for another two weeks.

Since then, the 20-year-old has bulldozed her way through milestone after milestone. Two International finals, in Tianjin last year and in Lugano in April, gave notice of the big-hitting Sabalenka's power and promise. And with new coach Dmitry Tursunov by her side since the grass season, that raw potential is rapidly coming to fruition: there was an immediate pay-off with a first Premier final in Eastbourne and a maiden title just over a month later in New Haven - followed by a second-week Slam debut at the US Open, where Sabalenka was the only player to take a set off eventual champion Naomi Osaka.

Read more: 'This is one of my favorite places to play' - Sabalenka storms to Wuhan title over Kontaveit

The Minsk native has also racked up an astonishing seven Top 10 victories in just over three months, including a three-set win last week over Elina Svitolina en route to her greatest success yet - the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open title, her first at Premier 5 level. After coming through two deciding sets in her first two rounds, over Carla Suárez Navarro and Svitolina, Sabalenka steamrolled the rest of her draw without dropping a set over Sofia Kenin, Dominika Cibulkova, Ashleigh Barty and Anett Kontaveit.

Here are some of this week's most notable ranking movers:

Aryna Sabalenka (+4, 20 to 16): Last week's title run in Wuhan continued a spectacular second half of the season for the youngest player in the Top 50: since losing to Alison Van Uytvanck in the first round of Mallorca in June, Sabalenka has compiled a 25-7 win-loss record, including seven wins over Top 10 players. Still two weeks away from her one-year anniversary inside the Top 100, the Belarusian has five finals - including two Premier titles - on her 12-month record, more than every other player except Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova.

Anett Kontaveit (+6, 27 to 21): Having impressed in the first half of the season with second-week showings at both the Australian Open and Roland Garros and semifinal runs in Stuttgart and Rome, the Estonian had gone relatively quiet following the clay season. But she was back with a bang last week in Wuhan, toppling Sloane Stephens in the first round before ploughing through to the final - and her reward is a new career high on the brink of the Top 20.

Wang Qiang (+6, 34 to 28): The 26-year-old took over as Chinese No.1 from Zhang Shuai for the first time last week, and backed it up by carrying on her recent spectacular form to reach her maiden Premier 5 semifinal in Wuhan - the first local player ever to do so. Wang, who broke the Top 50 for the first time in 2017, initially struggled to maintain that ranking this year, dipping to No.91 in May - but she's bounced back in style, with her first two titles in Nanchang and Guangzhou and first two appearances in the third round of a major at Roland Garros and the US Open. Wang has now won 14 of her past 17 matches - and makes her Top 30 debut as a result this week.

Monica Puig (+9, 51 to 42): As the Puerto Rican has struggled with injury - her hip kept her out of Roland Garros - and form, her year has nonetheless been highlighted by two upsets of Caroline Wozniacki: first in Miami and second last week in Wuhan, a win that sealed Puig's maiden Premier 5 quarterfinal. Having also reached the New Haven semifinals in August, the 25-year-old is back at her highest ranking since May 2017.

Sofia Kenin (+11, 62 to 51): The highest-ranked teenager in the world, Kenin scored her second career Top 10 victory over Julia Goerges last week in Wuhan to make her debut in the third round of a Premier 5 event. As a result, the 19-year-old American rises to a new career high on the edge of the Top 50.

Anastasia Potapova (+39, 132 to 93): The 2016 Wimbledon junior champion's spectacular season continued last week in Tashkent as she made it two finals out of just four career WTA-level main draws. Having already participated in the youngest WTA final in 13 years in Moscow in July, Potapova carved her way through qualifying before upsetting Acapulco finalist Stefanie Voegele and revenging herself on Olga Danilovic, her Moscow conqueror, en route to the title round. A loss to Margarita Gasparyan means that the 17-year-old still has to wait for her first trophy - but not for her Top 100 debut.

Olga Danilovic (+4, 101 to 97): Two weeks ago, Amanda Anisimova's Hiroshima final run made the American the first 2001-born player to crack the Top 200. Just a fortnight later, she's been joined by two of her peers - Potapova and Danilovic. Competing in just her second WTA main draw after winning the Moscow title on her debut, the 17-year-old Serb made it to the second round of Tashkent before losing to Potapova. The only member of the trio whose rise has not yet been aided by any WTA main draw wildcards, Danilovic was ranked just No.521 this time last year.

Kateryna Kozlova (+12, 119 to 107): In February, the Ukrainian seemed poised to take her career to the next level after reaching her maiden WTA final in Taipei City and scaling a new career high of No.62 in the world. But a knee injury scuppered Kozlova's rise, keeping the 24-year-old out of action for over two months between Indian Wells and Nurnberg. An upset of defending champion Jelena Ostapenko in the first round of Roland Garros made for a promising comeback, but Kozlova's return to form since has been a slow one - until last week, when another first-round shock over No.1 seed Irina-Camelia Begu paved the way to a semifinal run in Tashkent.

Fanny Stollar (+27, 158 to 131): A second WTA quarterfinal showing in Tashkent last week, including a win over former World No.2 Vera Zvonareva, has pushed the 19-year-old Hungarian up to a new career high as she forges her path on to the main Tour.

Margarita Gasparyan (+161, 299 to 138): The 24-year-old enjoyed a spectacular week in Tashkent, where she lifted her second career title after a battling run including three three-setters - before a 6-2, 6-1 demolition of Anastasia Potapova in the final. Gasparyan, the 2015 Baku champion, had reached the fourth round of the Australian Open in 2016 before hitting a career high of No.41 that February - but was sidelined due to three knee surgeries between Wimbledon 2016 and Moscow 2017. Her comeback thus far had been stop-start as her body continued to let her down, with the highlight before last week being her ITF $25,000 final run in Les Franqueses del Valles in May, and Tashkent was only Gasparyan's ninth event of 2018 - but since notching up her first WTA win of her return in Nanchang, the Russian has proved that she still has a Tour-quality game. An excellent showing against Angelique Kerber at the US Open was followed last week by becoming the second lowest ranked player ever to win a WTA title (after World No.579 Angelique Widjaja in Bali in 2001).

Paula Badosa Gibert (+32, 183 to 151): The 2015 Roland Garros junior champion's career thus far has also been stymied by various injuries; having broken the Top 200 that year, Badosa Gibert had fallen to No.379 last May as she struggled to maintain her health. But the Spaniard has found her footing this season, scoring a maiden WTA quarterfinal in Rabat in May; last week, she followed it with her third and biggest ITF title of the year, winning the $60,000 title in Valencia to rise to a new career high.

Wang Xiyu (+50, 232 to 182): Another 2001-born player making her mark last week was the US Open junior champion: as a qualifying wildcard in Wuhan, 17-year-old Wang scored her very first Top 100 win over Viktoria Kuzmova in the preliminary rounds and her second in the first round of the main draw over Bernarda Pera. But if those wins weren't turning enough heads, a thunderous performance against Daria Kasatkina in the second round had Wang's name on all lips: the tall left-hander unleashed a torrent of power to hold four match points over the first Top 20 opponent she had encountered. Though the Chinese teenager was unable to close the deal, it was a statement of intent that has catapulted her into the Top 200.

Rebecca Marino (+26, 216 to 190): The Canadian's return to the game after a five-year hiatus in which she battled depression has been one of 2018's most heartwarming comeback stories - as well as one of the most successful on court. The 27-year-old, who reached a career high of No.38 in 2011, has compiled a magnificent 49-11 record this season to date, including a quarterfinal run in the first WTA main draw of her return last month in Québec City. Racking up a fifth ITF title in Lubbock, Texas a fortnight ago has raised her ranking back into the Top 200 for the first time since June 2012 - a spectacular feat considering that Marino began the year unranked, without a protected ranking, playing ITF $15,000 qualifying in Antalya.