Rankings: WTA movers and shakers of 2018

Published by Bede Briscomb

Garbine Muguruza had a tough season while Naomi Osaka broke out into a star. (Getty Images)
From Naomi Osaka’s meteoric rise to Garbine Muguruza’s baffling form slump, here are the biggest movers and shakers in the WTA rankings of 2018.

The WTA season in 2018 was one of contrasting rankings fortunes for players. On one hand the year was packed full of wonderful surprises – see several first-time Grand Slam champions and heart-warming comebacks – while on the other there were several disappointing, almost inexplicable form slumps.

As a result, the make-up of the year-end rankings changed significantly in the past 12 months. Here are the biggest ranking movers and shakers in 2018…

Rankings risers

Player 2017* 2018* Rise Notable result
Angelique Kerber 21 2 +19 Wimbledon (W)
Naomi Osaka 68 5 +65 US Open (W)
Kiki Bertens 31 9 +22 Cincinnati (W)
Aryna Sabalenka 78 11 +67 Wuhan (W)
Elise Mertens 35 13 +22 Australian Open (SF)
Qiang Wang 45 20 +25 Guangzhou (W)
Mihaela Buzarnescu 72 24 +48 San Jose (W)
Camila Giorgi 79 26 +53 Wimbledon (QF)
Su-Wei Hsieh 96 28 +68 Hiroshima (W)
Danielle Collins 167 36 +131 Miami (SF)
Belinda Bencic 165 37 +128 New Haven (QF)
Ajla Tomljanovic 151 43 +108 Seoul (F)
Victoria Azarenka 208 51 +157 Miami (SF)
Rebecca Peterson 196 55  +141 Cagnes-Sur-Mer (W)
Dayana Yastremska 189 60 +129 Hong Kong (W)
Dalila Jakupovic 239 69 +170 Birmingham (QF)
Tamara Zidansek 180 70 +110 Bol (W)
Anastasia Potapova 237 94 +143 Moscow River Cup (F)
Katie Boulter 200 100 +100 Obidos 2 (W)

* year-end

Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka headline a strong list of movers in 2018. With no titles, two first-round Grand Slam exits and a meagre 29-24 record, Kerber had a tough season in 2017. But the German bounced back in terrific fashion by reaching the Australian Open semifinals, last eight at Roland Garros and winning her second Wimbledon trophy.

Osaka had a true breakout season. Starting the year off ranked No.68, she reached the fourth round at the Australian Open, won Indian Wells, won the US Open and qualified for her first WTA Finals.

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The oldest woman in this group is Su-Wei Hsieh at 32 years and the youngest is Anastasia Potapova at 17. There are two women aged 20 or younger, eight women between 20-24, six between 25-29 and three women aged 30 or older. The average age of the key movers is 24, which suggests most players are taking a little bit longer to develop than women in the 1990s and 2000s.

Of the 19 movers, 21% were players enjoying comeback years and 79% were newcomers. Strangely, 21-year-old Belinda Bencic is a comeback player as she achieved a career-high rank of No. 7 in 2016, and 30-year-old Mihaela Buzarnescu, who has spent 85% of her 14-year career ranked outside the top 100, is a newcomer.

Backsliding

Player 2017* 2018* Drop Notable result
Garbine Muguruza 2 18 -16 Monterrey (W)
Johanna Konta 9 39 -30 Nottingham (F)
Venus Williams 5 40 -35 Indian Wells (SF)
Kristina Mladenovic 11 44 -33 St. Petersberg (F)
Agnieszka Radwanska 28 75 -47 Eastbourne (SF)
CoCo Vandeweghe 10 104 -100 Stuttgart (F)
Lucie Safarova 30 106 -76 Mallorca (QF)
Svetlana Kuznetsova 12 107 95 Washington DC (W)

* year-end

With the majority of women in this group aged 27 or above, 25-year-old Garbine Muguruza’s shaky season is all the more baffling. The Spaniard mostly disappointed in Grand Slams and WTA Premier Mandatory tournaments, and her only title was a WTA International in Monterrey. Muguruza falls outside the top 10 for the first time in three years.

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