In 2019, Marketa Vondrousova is reaping the rewards of quality over quantity: the Czech has played just five tournaments this year so far, but has made each one count, reaching her second final of the season last week in Istanbul. Consequently, the 19-year-old has hit a career high inside the Top 40 for the first time this week.
Last August, Vondrousova emerged from a summer slump to make the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time at the US Open, scoring her maiden Top 10 win over Kiki Bertens en route. Perhaps mindful of how physically draining her 2017 breakthrough - which saw her play 58 matches in the first half of that year, winning 51 of them, as she rose through the ITF tour and won her first WTA title in Biel/Bienne - had been, Vondrousova has been careful not to overplay since then. It's paid off: of her five events in 2019, two have been finalist showings - she was runner-up to Alison Van Uytvanck in Budapest in February as well - and two have been back-to-back Premier Mandatory quarterfinal runs in Indian Wells and Miami, including a brilliant upset of Simona Halep in the former.
Vondrousova, who went unbeaten last weekend in the Czech Republic's Fed Cup World Group play-off against Canada as she led her team for the first time, could not go all the way last week, falling in the final to Petra Martic, who is becoming something of a nemesis: the Croat has defeated Vondrousova four times in four matches now, including twice this year. But the consistency of the teenager's performances make her one to watch wherever she turns up these days.
Here are the notable movers in the WTA Rankings for the week commencing 29 April, 2019.
Petra Kvitova (+1, 3 to 2): Can Kvitova hit the top spot? The two-time Wimbledon champion's quest for World No.1 continues to be one of the most absorbing ranking narratives of 2019. Having first hit World No.2 in October 2011, Kvitova returned there again after reaching the Australian Open final in January - and last week's Stuttgart title bumps her up again, just 136 points behind Naomi Osaka.
The quality and consistency of the Czech's form over the past 18 months - Stuttgart was her seventh title in nine finals over that period - has meant that the points she has had to defend have held her back so far, with 2018 champion points from Prague and Madrid about to fall off over the next fortnight. But all eyes will be on how much she can gain at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, where she just has a third round from the former to defend this year.
Petra Martic (+4, 40 to 36): The Croat's first final, in Kuala Lumpur in 2012, was a heartbreaker: having had to play her semifinal earlier on the same day owing to rain delays, Martic still came within a set of lifting the trophy over Hsieh Su-Wei - but hit the wall, and was forced to retire in the deciding set. Seven years later, she finally earned her first piece of champion's silverware in Istanbul last week, continuing a stellar clay rebound that had already seen her make her maiden Premier semifinal in Charleston.
Barbora Strycova (+8, 47 to 39): March saw the Czech dip to her lowest ranking in five years when she fell to World No.50 and threatened to fall out of the Top 50 for the first time since June 2014. Coming into Istanbul last week, she had a losing win-loss record this season - but turned it around with a battling run to the semifinals that included a remarkable 0-6, 7-6(6), 6-0 reverse bagel turnaround over Elena Rybakina in the quarterfinals.
Marketa Vondrousova (+6, 46 to 40): Between January 2017 and March 2018, Vondrousova took just 15 months to soar from World No.422 to hit the Top 50 for the first time - but physical setbacks and a summer slump meant that she sank back out of the Top 100 by August last year. But the 19-year-old Czech is firmly back on track and hitting new career highs in 2019.
Zheng Saisai (+3, 49 to 46): A three-time champion in Anning when the tournament was an ITF W100 event and a runner-up last year, Zheng reclaimed her title - and lifted her third WTA 125K trophy - last week, losing just one set en route.
Victoria Azarenka (+11, 61 to 50): The former World No.1 prepared for Stuttgart by playing three rubbers in an emotionally draining Fed Cup semifinal on the other side of the world - losing the deciding doubles to Australia in Brisbane. Even her own expectations were low as a jet-lagged Azarenka flew into Germany - but she was able to put together two quality wins over Vera Zvonareva and defending champion Karolina Pliskova before succumbing to injury against Anett Kontaveit in the quarterfinals. The Belarusian returns to the Top 50 one month after falling out of it as a result.
Margarita Gasparyan (+7, 72 to 65): This time last year, the Russian was ranked World No.1,115 after three knee surgeries kept her sidelined for nearly one-and-a-half years. But her comeback has been spectacular, including a second title in Tashkent last September, and she wrote another chapter last week by making her first ever clay semifinal in Istanbul - and climbing to her highest ranking since July 2016.
Kaja Juvan (+14, 141 to 127): The Youth Olympic Games gold medallist continues to sneak up on the Tour. Slovenia's Juvan is yet to make her WTA main draw debut, though only four players younger than the 18-year-old are ranked above her, and a semifinal showing in last week's Charlottesville ITF W80 has raised her to a new career high.
Elena Rybakina (+27, 161 to 134): Having first turned heads by stunning Caroline Garcia to make the 2018 St. Petersburg quarterfinals, 19-year-old Rybakina is making serious headway this year. A second quarterfinal run in just her fourth WTA main draw in Istanbul included upsets of Katerina Siniakova and defending champion Pauline Parmentier, and the Kazakh came within two points of the semifinals before falling away against the experience of Barbora Strycova. Nonetheless, with her 2019 win-loss record now at 24-7 - including three ITF titles - Rybakina is rewarded with a new career high.
Whitney Osuigwe (+50, 189 to 139): Reigning Roland Garros junior champion Osuigwe's rise continues to be as smooth as her groundstrokes. The 17-year-old American took home her second ITF W80 title in Charlottesville last week, upsetting No.1 seed Taylor Townsend in the quarterfinals and surviving No.2 seed Madison Brengle in the final, and smashes her career high as a result.
Greet Minnen (+39, 192 to 153): The Belgian was a shock quarterfinalist on her WTA debut in Hobart this year, and she's continued to build on that: a maiden ITF W25 title in Yokohama followed in March, but last week saw Minnen capture a career-best victory over former World No.5 Dominika Cibulkova for a first match victory at Premier level in Stuttgart. Having ended 2018 at World No.316, the 21-year-old has vaulted over 150 places in just four months.
Liang En-Shuo (+38, 228 to 190): Remarkably, the 2018 Australian Open junior champion only gained a WTA ranking for the first time just over a year ago, entering at World No.906 last April. The Chinese Taipei player's rise has been meteoric since then, including a quarterfinal run on her WTA main draw debut in Nanchang last July. A semifinal showing in Anning last week was Liang's first at WTA 125K level, and catapults the 18-year-old into the Top 200 for the first time.