Elena Vesnina has risen to a career-high mark of No. 13 in the latest WTA rankings after her stunning title victory at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
Nobody would have given her a chance prior to the tournament, but Vesnina completed one of the biggest shocks in Indian Wells history on Sunday, twice staging superb comebacks to emerge triumphant 6-7(6) 7-5 6-4 in three hours over compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova. The 30-year-old recovered from 1-4 down in the second set and 2-4 in the decider to capture her first ever Premier Mandatory title.
"I won the title, and this sounds like a miracle for everybody, for you guys, for me, for, I think, all the girls out there," Vesnina said. "I think nobody could pick me at the beginning of the tournament that I could win this title. Me, also. I couldn't pick myself.
"But then when I was kind of getting closer to this stage, and even today, I knew that Svetlana was the favourite of the match. I didn't care. I just wanted this title so much."
Vesnina’s rise over the last year has been one of the more remarkable stories on the WTA Tour. She was ranked outside the top 100 at the beginning of 2016, but she finished the season at a career-high ranking after reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals, and after losing in the first round of qualifying at Indian Wells last year, she’s defeated three grand slam champions to win the biggest title of her career.
Elena Vesnina with the Indian Wells trophy (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Elena Vesnina holds her trophy (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
With the win, Vesnina rises to a career-high No. 13 in the world, while she’s also broken into the top eight in the Road to Singapore WTA race.
Kuznetsova climbs one spot in the rankings to No. 7. It’s the third time she’s finished runner-up at the BNP Paribas Open, following defeats to Daniela Hantuchova and Ana Ivanovic in the 2007 and 2008 finals.
In other fairly significant rankings news, Angelique Kerber has officially returned to the No. 1 ranking after Australian Open champion Serena Williams pulled out of both Indian Wells and Miami with injury. Kerber leads Williams by 385 points at the top of the rankings, while the likes of struggling Simona Halep (down to No. 5) and Agnieszka Radwanska (down to No. 8) have slipped further.
Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic was the other big mover on Monday, climbing eight places to a career-high No. 18 in the world following her run to the Indian Wells semi-finals.
WTA Tour Rankings Top 20, Monday 20 March 2017
1. Angelique Kerber (+1)
2. Serena Williams (-1)
3. Karolina Pliskova
4. Dominika Cibulkova (+1)
5. Simona Halep (-1)
6. Garbine Muguruza (+1)
7. Svetlana Kuznetsova (+1)
8. Agnieszka Radwanska (-2)
9. Madison Keys
10. Elina Svitolina
11. Johanna Konta
12. Venus Williams (+1)
13. Elena Vesnina (+2)
14. Caroline Wozniacki
15. Petra Kvitova (-3)
16. Timea Bacsinszky
17. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (+4)
18. Kristina Mladenovic (+8)
19. Samantha Stosur (-1)
20. Barbora Strycova (-1)