Sloane Stephens’ strong and consistent performances at the Grand Slam tournaments have pushed her to a career-high No. 13 in this week’s WTA rankings. If she plays well in the fall, she could become the first American to make her top-10 debut since Serena Williams in 1999.
Stephens made the fourth round or better at all four majors this year. Her best result came at the Australian Open, where she reached the semifinals after defeating Williams, who returned the favor in the fourth round of the U.S. Open. Stephens also advanced to the fourth round at the French Open, where she lost to Maria Sharapova, and the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, where she lost to champion Marion Bartoli.
The 20-year-old American has struggled at non-majors; she’s 15-4 at Slams this year and 17-15 everywhere else, and she’s never made a tour-level final. But she’s planning a heavy fall schedule in hopes of finishing the year in the top 10. She trails No. 10 Jelena Jankovic by only 200 points, with no points to defend the rest of the season.
“I think I have a pretty good shot,” Stephens said after losing to Williams at the U.S. Open. “If I don’t make that, then shame on me. … Everything happens in its own time. I never rush anything in my career. Now I have a goal, and I want to reach that.”
Stephens’ next tournament is the Pan Pacific Open, which begins Sept. 22. She’s also scheduled to play the China Open, Generali Ladies in Austria and Luxembourg Open.
Other notable rankings moves this week:
• Li Na has returned the top five after a career-best run to the U.S. Open semifinals. She trails an unchanged top four of Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska.
• After falling as low as No. 34 since ascending to No. 1 in 2008, Jankovic is back in the top 10 (at No. 10) for the first time since the 2011 French Open.
• Petra Kvitova, who began the 2012 season just 115 points behind Caroline Wozniacki for the No. 1 ranking, has dropped out of the top 10 (at No. 11) for the first time since she won Wimbledon in 2011.
• Flavia Pennetta has climbed from No. 83 to No. 31 after making the U.S. Open semifinals. She tumbled to No. 166 earlier this year after having wrist surgery.
• Sam Stosur, who lost to Victoria Duval in the first round of the U.S. Open, has fallen to No. 18, her lowest ranking since 2009.