Getty Images

U.S. Open champ Angelique Kerber replaces Serena Williams at No. 1 in rankings

1 Comment

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. Open champion Angelique Kerber officially became the oldest woman to debut at No. 1 in the WTA rankings, ending Serena Williams’ record-tying run of 186 consecutive weeks in the top spot.

Monday’s rankings are the first since February 2013 without Williams at No. 1.

The 28-year-old Kerber’s rise from No. 2 was assured when Williams lost in the semifinals at Flushing Meadows.

Kerber went on to beat Karolina Pliskova in Saturday’s final for her second Grand Slam title of the season. She defeated Williams at the Australian Open in January, then was the runner-up to the American at Wimbledon in July.

She is the first woman from Germany to be ranked No. 1 since Steffi Graf, who has been a mentor for Kerber. Graf and Williams share the mark for most weeks in a row atop the WTA.

“For sure, when I was growing up, Steffi was my idol,” Kerber said, “and this is also special that she is German. She did a lot for German tennis, as well. And now, to be the next after her, to be a German No. 1 and win Grand Slams, this is, for me, really important.”

Williams is now No. 2, followed by French Open champion Garbine Muguruza at No. 3, Agnieszka Radwanska at No. 4, Simona Halep at No. 5, and Pliskova at a career-best of No. 6. Pliskova was No. 11 before making it past the third round of a major for the first time and becoming the fourth woman to eliminate both Williams sisters during a Grand Slam tournament.

Roberta Vinci, the U.S. Open runner-up in 2015, dropped from No. 8 to No. 15 on Monday after losing to Kerber in the quarterfinals last week.

Victoria Azarenka went from No. 7 to No. 11; she skipped the U.S. Open because she is pregnant.

Novak Djokovic remained at No. 1 in the ATP rankings despite losing to No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in the men’s final at Flushing Meadows on Sunday night. Andy Murray stayed at No. 2.

Rafael Nadal gained one spot to No. 4, and Kei Nishikori moved up from No. 6 to No. 5. Roger Federer slid from No. 4 to No. 7 as he sits out the rest of 2016 while rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee.

Gael Monfils, who lost to Djokovic in the semifinals in New York, jumped from No. 12 to No. 8.

Venus ready for return WTA Finals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

SINGAPORE (AP) Venus Williams returns to the year-end WTA Finals for the first time since reaching the 2009 final, and the fifth time overall, starting on Sunday in Singapore.

Williams joins top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania, second-ranked Garbine Muguruza of Spain, third-ranked Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic, fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, sixth-ranked Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, seventh-ranked Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and ninth-ranked Caroline Garcia of France.

They’re all pretty special,” said Williams, of her career appearances in the year-end competition. “It’s the end of the year. Only Top 8 get here. It’s definitely something well earned.”

At 37-years-old, Williams is the third oldest player to qualify for the year-end championships behind a 39-year-old Billie Jean King in 1983, and a 38-year-old Martina Navratilova in 1994.

Williams is the oldest player in this draw with 27-year-old Wozniacki the next oldest.

Having played since 1995, Williams has seen the women’s game advance, saying: “The competition is so much greater. It’s a beautiful change, in fact.”

In 2008, Williams won the WTA Finals title, going 3-0 in the round-robin, and defeating Vera Zvonareva of Russia in the final.

She was also was a semifinalist in her first two appearances in the finals, in 1999 and 2000.

Williams reached two Grand Slam finals this season at the Australian Open, where she lost to what turned out to be an already pregnant younger sister, Serena, and at Wimbledon, where she fell to Muguruza.

Every player but Garcia has a possibility of playing themselves into the year-end No. 1 ranking depending on their result this week. Williams has ranked No. 1 for 11 weeks of her career.

In the round-robin, Williams is situated in the White Group with fellow big-hitters Muguruza and Pliskova, who both ranked No. 1 at some time during this season, and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Williams opens the competition against Pliskova on Sunday. The two are tied at one match apiece in their head-to-head.

She holds a 3-2 winning record over Muguruza and is 1-0 over Ostapenko.

“I think my group is more aggressive style players in the group and the other one is more defending,” Pliskova said. “I just like to play better these players.

“I start with Venus tomorrow, so I beat her once from match point and once I lost very close match. This one is open.”

Goerges ends 6-year title wait with victory at Kremlin Cup

AP Photo
Leave a comment

MOSCOW (AP) Julia Goerges ended her six-year wait for another WTA singles title Saturday with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Daria Kasatkina in the Kremlin Cup final.

Goerges cruised to victory against her Russian opponent, who was ranked one place below her at 28th.

The German swept the first five games of the first set before Kasatkina could even get on the board.

Kasatkina put up more resistance at the start of the second, forcing three break points in Goerges’ first service game, but couldn’t convert them and was broken next game.

Goerges is now 3-7 in career singles finals, with her last title in Stuttgart in 2011. Before Saturday’s match, she had lost six straight finals, including three in the space of two months this summer.