J&T Banka Prague Open champion Jil Teichmann and runner-up Karolina Muchova both gatecrash the Top 100 in style this week, while Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Meryem champion Maria Sakkari's first title also gives her a boost.
Alex Macpherson
May 6, 2019

Two tournaments last week gave us two contrasting maiden champions. At the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, Maria Sakkari displayed the swashbuckling moxie she has become known for on tour across a full week for the first time, while at the J&T Banka Prague Open, the unheralded Jil Teichmann flew under the radar all the way from qualifying before seizing the spotlight with a marathon final victory.

Gallery: Rankings Rockets: First-time champions Teichmann, Sakkari soaring

Since breaking the Top 100 in July 2016, Sakkari has thrived when facing big names on big stages. Stretching Venus Williams to three sets on her 2016 Wimbledon debut set the scene for eight Top 20 upsets to date, including Caroline Wozniacki at Wuhan 2017, Karolina Pliskova at Rome 2018 and Naomi Osaka at Cincinnati 2018, the tournament immediately before the Japanese player's US Open triumph. The Greek has also reached the third round of a major on five occasions.

Parlaying this form into a title has been more of a journey. A maiden final in San Jose last year ended in disappointment with a one-sided 6-1, 6-0 defeat at the hands of Mihaela Buzarnescu. But in Rabat, Sakkari rode her big upset all the way. Her quarterfinal win over No.1 seed Elise Mertens was the second time in three tournaments that the 23-year-old had dethroned a defending champion, following her defeat of Kiki Bertens in Charleston - and this time Sakkari was able to wrest the crown for herself, essaying a remarkable comeback from 2-6, 2-4 down to beat Johanna Konta 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the final. Sakkari has thus now gone one better than her mother, former World No.43 Angeliki Kanellopoulou, who reached one final in her career in Athens in 1986 but was defeated 7-5, 6-1 by Sylvia Hanika.

Here are the notable movers in the WTA Rankings for the week commencing 6 May, 2019.

Maria Sakkari (+12, 51 to 39): Last week, Sakkari fell out of the Top 50 for the first time since last March - a dip that lasted all of one week as she stormed to her maiden championship in Rabat, becoming the first Greek player to lift a WTA trophy since five-time titlist Eleni Daniilidou's last tournament victory at Hobart 2008. The 23-year-old is now just 10 spots off her career high of No.29, set last September.

Johanna Konta (+6, 47 to 41): Coming off the confidence boost of leading Great Britain back into Fed Cup's World Group II in front of home fans over Kazakhstan, Konta rode the wave for a career-best week on clay in Rabat. Recovering from triple match point down against Wang Yafan in the first round, the 27-year-old won four straight main draw matches on the terre battue for the first time - including an upset of No.2 seed Hsieh Su-Wei in the quarterfinals - to come runner-up to Sakkari.



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Grateful. ❤️

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Karolina Muchova (+32, 106 to 74): The beneficiary of Lucie Safarova's decision to turn down a farewell singles wildcard in Prague, Muchova repaid her compatriot's generosity in style. The 22-year-old's run to her first final was crowdpleasing both in terms of ensuring home representation therein for a fourth consecutive year and for the creative, varied tennis that dropshot queen Muchova showed off over the week. Now she's gatecrashed the Top 100 for the first time, fans can look forward to appreciating this for a while to come.

Bernarda Pera (+21, 105 to 84): Having broken through last year with an upset of Johanna Konta at the Australian Open, a quarterfinal in Charleston and a semifinal in Guangzhou, Pera struggled to back it up as 2019 got under way. Prior to last week, the American had won just one WTA main draw match this season. But in Prague, Pera's power clicked as she pounded her way to the semifinals, including a second Top 20 upset over No.3 seed Wang Qiang in the quarterfinals - and after a month-long dip outside the Top 100 has now returned to that echelon.



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Thank you Prague for an awesome week 🖤

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Jil Teichmann (+59, 146 to 87): The Swiss player may be a former junior World No.3, but she spent her week in Prague under the radar - until she snatched the title over Karolina Muchova in a marathon final. Teichmann first cracked the Top 200 in April 2017, but stalled in that stratum for the next two years; prior to last week, she had never reached a WTA quarterfinal, compiling just a 5-12 record in main draws, and owned just one Top 50 win. But a remarkable run through qualifying saw the 21-year-old win eight matches in eight days - including a defeat of Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round and a career-best win in the semifinals, a 6-3, 6-0 rout of Barbora Strycova - to win her maiden trophy and announce herself in the Top 100.

Zarina Diyas (+17, 115 to 98): Last June, having returned to the Top 50 following wrist surgery in 2016, disaster struck Diyas in the form of a knee injury in Nottingham that forced the Kazakh to miss the rest of her beloved grass swing, where she has twice reached the fourth round at Wimbledon. The 25-year-old has struggled for form and ranking since - but took the ITF W80 title in Gifu last week to return to the Top 100 two weeks ahead of the Wimbledon main draw cutoff.



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Hey 🏆, you're so sweet. . . . #1

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Whitney Osuigwe (+15, 139 to 124): Last year's Roland Garros junior champion is making headway on clay again. Having picked up her second ITF W80 trophy in Charlottesville last week, the 17-year-old extended her winning streak on green clay to nine with a run to the Charleston ITF W100 final - including a top-quality semifinal win over Youth Olympic Games gold medallist Kaja Juvan. Osuigwe was unable to take back-to-back titles as Taylor Townsend avenged a quarterfinal loss in Charlottesville to lift the trophy, but nonetheless vaults to another new career high.

Barbora Krejcikova (+15, 141 to 126): The Czech is the reigning Roland Garros and Wimbledon doubles champion, and ended 2018 as the joint doubles World No.1 alongside Katerina Siniakova - but this success has come at the expense of Krejcikova's singles career, with her elite doubles commitments preventing her from playing the tournaments needed to build and maintain her singles ranking. The 23-year-old has shown what she can do solo before, having reached the 2017 Nurnberg final, and over the past month a return to the ITF World Tour has demonstrated again: a title run at the Wiesbaden ITF W60 event last week in which Krejcikova did not drop a set extended her winning streak to 15, having already picked up titles in Innisbrook and Pelham, and means she is now just five places off her career high.

Liang En-Shuo (+35, 190 to 155): The 2018 Australian Open junior champion continues to vault upwards: having cracked the Top 200 with a semifinal run on clay at the Anning 125K, Liang transitioned smoothly to hard courts to make the biggest final of her career so far at the ITF W80 in Gifu. The 18-year-old's week also included her maiden Top 100 victory as she saved one match point to defeat No.1 seed Zhu Lin in the second round.