San Jose champion Zheng Saisai and Washington champion Jessica Pegula both hit career highs after collecting their first WTA titles last week, while Karlsruhe 125K champion Patricia Maria Tig's return from maternity leave continues to impress.
Alex Macpherson
August 5, 2019

Prior to last week, San Jose champion Zheng Saisai had tended to show her top form when playing in her native China: the 25-year-old's only previous WTA final had come just over a year ago in Nanchang, and all three of her 125K titles - Dalian 2015, Zhengzhou 2018 and Anning 2019 - as well as two further finals at that level had also been on her home turf.

But Zheng's brilliant run to her maiden trophy made California a home away from home. Deploying craft, creativity and control all week, Zheng outsmarted and outran a slew of seeded opponents: back-to-back Americans Danielle Collins and Amanda Anisimova, the former in 6-2, 6-0 rout and the latter in a 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 epic; last year's runner-up Maria Sakkari; and, in the final, a fifth career Top 10 win over Aryna Sabalenka. It is the third time in the past four years that the tournament has crowned a maiden titlist, following Johanna Konta in 2016 (in Stanford) and Mihaela Buzarnescu last year.

Zheng's triumph is the biggest title won by a Chinese player since Li Na's second Grand Slam victory at the 2014 Australian Open, and returns her to the career high ranking of World No.38 that she set last December.

Here are the notable movers in the WTA Rankings for the week commencing 5 August, 2019.

Aryna Sabalenka (+1, 10 to 9): The Belarusian's run to her first Premier final of the season in San Jose has bumped her back up to her career high ranking for the first time since March.

Zheng Saisai (+17, 55 to 38): The San Jose champion's best week of her career so far was also somewhat timely. Just over a year ago, Zheng had reached her first final in Nanchang and followed it up with a semifinal run in Washington - and the loss of those points had seen her drop out of the Top 50 for the first time since October. However, a maiden title in California vaults her back up to a career high.

Camila Giorgi (+10, 62 to 52): Out of action for three months between March and June to recover from a wrist injury, the Italian saw her Top 30 ranking slowly ebb away. But despite coming into Washington having won just three matches in 2019, Giorgi more than doubled that total in one week, powering to her seventh career final before falling to Jessica Pegula.

Jessica Pegula (+24, 79 to 55): The American's maiden title last week in Washington was sweet redemption on a number of levels. Pegula had lost all eight of her previous professional finals, including three in the past 12 months - her first WTA final in Québec City last September and at back-to-back tournaments this February, the Newport Beach 125K and Midland ITF W100 - but was able to sweep Camila Giorgi aside for the loss of just four games on Sunday. And after a career beset by multiple injuries that set the 25-year-old back to square one after two separate spells in the Top 200 in 2012-13 and 2015-17, an extended period of health has now paid off as she hits a new career high on the brink of the Top 50.

Paula Badosa (+11, 101 to 90): The 2015 Roland Garros junior champion has hit her stride in recent weeks, following a maiden WTA semifinal in Palermo a fortnight ago with another run to the last four at the Karlsruhe 125K. As a result, the 21-year-old Spaniard becomes the 13th player to break the Top 100 in 2019.

Jasmine Paolini (+14, 132 to 118): The Italian showcased some thrilling form in front of her home crowd two weeks ago in Palermo, reaching her second WTA quarterfinal and taking a set off Kiki Bertens, and backed that up with a semifinal showing at the Karlsruhe 125K last week to hit a new career high.

Catherine McNally (+26, 150 to 124): The 17-year-old American continues to rocket upwards. Ranked World No.700 this time last year, McNally knocked off new milestones almost every time she played in Washington last week: a first WTA main draw win over Zhu Lin turned into a maiden semifinal, defeating a Top 50 opponent in Hsieh Su-Wei for the first time along the way. McNally - who also won the doubles title with Coco Gauff - soars to a new career high as a result.

Anna Kalinskaya (+34, 160 to 126): Coming into Washington, Kalinskaya had lost 12 consecutive WTA main draw matches stretching back to Gstaad in 2017. The Russian frequently navigated qualifying successfully - including four times at Grand Slams - but was unable to translate that to getting over the first hurdle. Until last week: a first-round win over Nao Hibino snapped the streak, and Kalinskaya backed it up with a marvellous comeback against Monica Puig and a gritty three-set upset of Kristina Mladenovic to reach her maiden WTA semifinal. The 20-year-old, who first cracked the Top 200 in September 2016, consequently beats the career high she set in June 2017 by one place.

Kristie Ahn (+50, 178 to 138): Stanford graduate Ahn has been unbothered by the tournament's move to San Jose: the American upset Elise Mertens to score her maiden Top 20 win and reach her second WTA quarterfinal following Nottingham 2017. Having reached a career high of World No.105 in January 2018  but sunk to World No.226 a year later, the 27-year-old - who also upset Jelena Ostapenko in Bogota in April and qualified for Wimbledon last month - is heading in the right direction again.

Patricia Maria Tig (+83, 223 to 140): One of the most remarkable comebacks of the 2019 season continues apace. The Romanian, who was sidelined for two years due to first injury and then maternity leave, returned to the game in April at the lowest level of professional tennis, basing herself in Cancun for three months and starting off in ITF W15 qualifying. But Tig has hit the ground running at WTA level: in the past month, she has reached the Bucharest final and the Jurmala quarterfinals before, last week, collecting the biggest title of her career at the Karlsruhe 125K, defeating Alison Van Uytvanck in the final. Unranked just three weeks ago, the 25-year-old is back with a bang.

Varvara Gracheva (+29, 211 to 182): A former Top 20 junior, 18-year-old Gracheva has flown under the radar - even as she's collected the wins. The Russian has collected three ITF W25 titles this season in Chiasso, Caserta and Montpellier - and last week in Washington, extended her 2019 win-loss record to 50-17 by qualifying and reaching the second round, where she stretched Hsieh Su-Wei to a deciding tiebreak in a late-night classic.

Mayo Hibi (+54, 265 to 211): The Japanese 23-year-old struck a blow for finesse in San Jose last week, qualifying and scoring her first ever WTA main draw victory with a marathon defeat of Timea Babos before extending last year's finalist Maria Sakkari to three tough sets.

Hailey Baptiste (+16, 283 to 267): Making her WTA debut via wildcard in her home town of Washington, 17-year-old Baptiste - already a winner of two ITF W25 titles this year in Plantation and Sumter - announced herself in style with a first-round upset of Madison Keys.