WTA Weekly Ledger: Angelique Kerber and Cagla Buyukakcay create history on home soil

WTA action in Stuttgart, Germany and Istanbul, Turkey last week saw its countrywomen take home the title. World number three Angelique Kerber successfully defend her Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title to bring her overall title count to nine.

Over at the Bosphorus, Cagla Buyukakcay made Turkey proud by emerging as the first female Turkish player to win a WTA title of any kind. Buyukakcay's title run in to the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup sees the newly-minted Turkish number one crack the top 100 singles rankings, she is the first Turkish woman to achieve this feat too.

Last week's titlists

From left to right: Oliver Blume (CEO of Porsche), Angelique Kerber (champion), Laura Siegemund (runner-up) and Wolfgang Porsche pose after the trophy presentation ceremony. Photo credit: Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images.
From left to right: CEO of Porsche Oliver Blume, Kerber, runner-up Laura Siegemund and Wolfgang Porsche pose after the trophy presentation ceremony. Photo credit: Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images.

This year's tournament in Stuttgart kicked off with eight Germans in the draw. On the final day, there were two and Germany will be assured of a title for the fifth time in the tournament's history.

Angelique Kerber met surprise package Laura Siegemund, who had a fairytale run to the championship round. Siegemund had to come through qualifying but showed no mercy, scoring four top 30 wins in all of her four matches en route to the final, with the last three of them over top 10 opposition. Both Kerber and Siegemund were the only German players to advance past the round of 16.

Kerber overcame a slow start but eventually outclassed her compatriot 6-4, 6-0 to take home her second Stuttgart crown. This marks the first time the reigning Australian Open champion successfully defended a title and she continues her amazing run of form in 2016 thus far. Additionally, the German number one became the first player to successfully defend a singles title this season. She now ties Anke Huber for most Stuttgart titles won by a German at two.

The tournament's top seeds did not disappoint. Top seed Agnieszka Radwanska made it to the last four where she lost to an inspired Siegemund. Third-seeded Garbiñe Muguruza made the quarterfinals where she was sent packing by fifth seed Petra Kvitova in a dominating performance. Kvitova, who looks to have finally found her form made her second Stuttgart semifinal, her first since 2012 but came up short to Kerber in three sets. Contrarily, Simona Halep, the fourth seed was outplayed by Siegemund in her opening match in a match where she struggled with a cloud of an ankle injury.

Buyukakcay lifts her maiden WTA title. Photo credit: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.
Buyukakcay lifts her maiden WTA title. Photo credit: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

Turkey's Cagla Buyukakcay (pronounced Cha-la Boo-you-kak-chei) made a lot firsts for her country in Istanbul last week. After beating a pair of qualifiers in Marina Melnikova and Sorana Cirstea, she upset sixth seed Nao Hibino in the quarterfinals to not only make her first ever WTA semifinal but she became the first WTA player from Turkey to do so. 

The train did not stop there, she went on to beat Stefanie Voegele and then fifth seed Danka Kovinic in the final. She won her first WTA title and it was Turkey's first WTA title of any kind. The 26-year-old Turk who was down a set in the final defied all the odds, along with the support of a patriotic crowd to prevail over her Montenegrin opponent 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. 

Buyukakcay celebrates her title triumph on Twitter. Photo credit: Cagla Buyukakcay Twitter.
Buyukakcay celebrates her title triumph on Twitter. Photo credit: Cagla Buyukakcay Twitter.

Significantly, the doubles final saw another Turk join Buyukakcay in Turkey's list of WTA titlists when Ipek Soylu alongside Romanian partner, Andreea Mitu of Romania lifted the doubles crown albeit by a walkover. Their opponents were Swiss Xenia Knoll and Kovinic, who had to concede the walkover due to a hamstring injury suffered by Kovinic. Nevertheless, it was a historical week for Turkish tennis, one that will remain in each and every Turk's memory.

Other than Hibino and Kovinic, the other six seeds were not as fortunate as they all fell before the last eight. Top seed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova's 2016 misery continues as she won just five games against Greek Maria Sakkari in the opening round. Defending champion and fourth-seeded Lesia Tsurenko fell to Cirstea in the first round too. Second seed Yanina Wickmayer was sent packing in round one as well by Mitu.

Rankings

WTA's newly-released top 10 rankings as displayed on its website.
WTA's newly-released top 10 rankings as displayed on its website.

Serena Williams maintains her top ranking so do Radwanska and Kerber at second and third respectively. Kvitova, courtesy of her semifinal run sees her ranking improve one spot to sixth whereas Halep drops to seventh after failing to replicate last year's semifinal run in Stuttgart. 

Progressing down the list, Siegemund overtakes four Germans to find herself at 42nd, an improvement of 29 spots. Kovinic returns to the top 50 after her good results in Istanbul. Buyukakcay, the biggest mover goes up from 118th to 82nd, this will be Turkey's debut representation in the top 100. Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova who made the quarterfinals in Istanbul improves to 86th from 96th. Over in the 101-200 range, Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova alongside Sakkari rises in the rankings following semifinal and quarterfinal showings in Istanbul respectively.

On the other hand, Lucie Safarova falls a rank to 16th after dropping her opener in Stuttgart and so does former world number one and 2015 Stuttgart runner-up Caroline Wozniacki who goes down four spots to 28th. The Dane had to sit out the week due to an ankle injury. Stuttgart's other 2015 semifinalist, Caroline Garcia finds herself out of the top 50 for the first time in two years after dropping her opener to Monica Niculescu. Kazakh Zarina Diyas who double-bageled Sabine Lisicki in the opening round of Stuttgart last year, dips nine places to 94th after skipping the tournament this year. 

Road to Singapore

The current top 10 in the Road to Singapore as displayed on WTA's website.
The current top 10 in the Road to Singapore as displayed on WTA's website.

Radwanska overtakes Serena Williams for the number three position after her semifinal run in Stuttgart whereas Karolina Pliskova who lost to Radwanska in the last eight goes up six places to 18th. Siegemund continues her rise in the race to the WTA Finals with a 36-spot vault all the way 22nd. Buyukakcay and Kvitova also soar up 29 and 19 spots to find themselves next to each other at 26th and 27th respectively. 

Muguruza who made her second quarterfinal of 2016 rises to 35th from 49th whereas Kovinic goes up 28 places to 51st. Other notable players who improve in the race include Voegele (77th to 58th), Hibino (70th to 59th), Sakkari (74th to 61st) and Kozlova (101st to 75th).

This week's action

The Czech and Moroccan capital cities of Prague and Rabat will host International-level clay court tournaments this week, namely the J&T Banka Prague Open and GP SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem respectively. Top 20 stars Svetlana Kuznetsova and Timea Bacsinszky lead the field in Prague and Rabat respectively. In addition, the Prague draw will see Czech Republic represented by a total of ten athletes out of the 32-player field.

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