World No.1 Ash Barty shocked the tennis world by announcing an early retirement at the age of 25. She was on an unbeaten run this year which also included a 3rd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open earlier this year. Barty became the second player after Justine Henin to retire from tennis while occupying the top spot in the rankings. Similar to Henin, the Australian has made a request to be removed from the WTA Rankings in the next updated cycle.
This means, for the first time in 2 years, the WTA rankings will have a new player on the summit of the standings. Barty had an unassailable lead of 2204 points over the 2nd ranked player, Iga Swiatek. But with her shock retirement, there are a handful of players who will be vying for the top spot in Miami.
Iga Swiatek and Paula Badosa- Front runners for the No.1 ranking
In the standings, Swiatek occupies the 2nd spot, followed by Maria Sakkari in the 3rd. Barbora Krejcikova, Aryna Sabalenka and Paula Badosa wrap up the top-6. Going by their results from the last year’s Miami Open, Swiatek and Badosa are in a prime position to take over the reigns from Barty.
Other than Swiatek, Sakkari and Sabalenka might be the closest to the top spot according to the current rankings, but the duo made deep runs at the Miami Open last year. And this turned out against their favor, even winning the title will not be enough for both the players to bag the No.1 ranking. Whereas, Krejcikova can’t add to her points haul after withdrawing from the Sunshine Double with an elbow injury.
As of now, Iga Swiatek is the favorite to be crowned the new World No.1 post-Miami Open. The Pole lost in the third round in Miami last year and has only 65 points to defend this time around. Badosa might be ranked last of the pack, but the Spaniard has only 25 points to defend this year and is the only player other than Swiatek that has a chance of occupying the summit of the standings.
Swiatek just needs to win her opener at the Miami Open to become the new World No.1. This top spot might already be in the bag for the 2020 French Open champion given she is on an 11-match unbeaten streak this year. After a damp 2021 season, the Pole has made quite the resurgence this season. With consecutive triumphs in Doha and the Indian Wells, Swiatek will be looking to cap it off with a World No.1 ranking.
Badosa also has an outside chance of bagging the top spot. If Swiatek loses her opener and Badosa needs to win the title to be crowned the new World No.1. That seems a tough ask, even for a player of such a caliber as Badosa and with Swiatek’s form, there might not be another player right now on tour, more deserving than the Pole.