Iga Swiatek has been atop the WTA rankings for a better part of the last two years, aside from a brief eight-week spell when Aryna Sabalenka reigned supreme. The former currently has 9770 points, while the latter trails her with 8905 points.
Swiatek lost in the third round at the Australian Open and failed to add any more points to her total. Sabalenka, on the other hand, mounted a successful title defense there to remain hot on her younger rival’s tail.
The race for the No. 1 spot is set to heat up in the coming weeks. The two are set to compete in the Qatar Open, starting from February 12, where Swiatek is the two-time defending champion.
While the tournament is a WTA 1000 event this year, it was only a WTA 500 last year. Swiatek is thus defending just 470 points, while Sabalenka skipped the previous edition and has no points to back up.
After deducting those points from Swiatek’s current tally, she’ll be left with 9300 points. If she manages to reach the final, she’ll remain as the World No. 1 even if Sabalenka wins the title.
If Swiatek bows out in the semifinals, then Sabalenka must lift the trophy to clinch the top ranking. Should the former exit in the quarterfinals or before, then simply reaching the final is enough for the latter to overtake her.
But Swiatek has played some of her best tennis at the Qatar Open. She won the title last year for the loss of just five games across three matches. An early exit seems quite unlikely, so the battle for the top spot could continue at the Dubai Tennis Championships too.
1000 points are up for grabs in Dubai as well. Swiatek was the finalist at the venue last year and has to defend 585 points, while Sabalenka has 190 points to defend. In all, the Pole has to worry about 1095 points during the Middle East swing, while the Belarusian has a measly 190 points to be concerned with.
Sabalenka has the advantage here as she’s bound to gain more points than Swiatek over the next fortnight, provided she performs well. As for the Pole, she’ll need to win at least one of her next two events and hope for her challenger to stumble early.
But the fight for the top ranking won’t conclude any time soon. The two have proven to be the best players on the women’s side over the last couple of years and they’ll duke it out for the top spot in March too.
Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka’s tussle for the World No. 1 ranking will resume in the US