Wimbledon exit will not stop Ash Barty from holding onto world number one ranking

Wimbledon exit will not stop Ash Barty from holding onto world number one ranking


July 09, 2019 15:55:04

Ashleigh Barty’s spectacular start to the season has come to a crashing halt after losing to American Alison Riske at Wimbledon.

Her hopes of holding up the Venus Rosewater Dish as the 2019 ladies’ singles champion are over, and now the young Australian must fend of those gunning for her number one ranking in the women’s game.

Will Barty remain number one?

Thankfully yes.

Czech world number three Karolina Pliskova could have taken the mantle from Barty if she had progressed to the semi-finals at the All England Club.

A former world number one, Pliskova lost her round of 16 match against countrywoman, Karolina Muchova 6-4, 5-7, 11-13.

Despite her fourth-round Wimbledon exit, Barty will still be world number when the rankings are next released by the WTA after the Championships.

“She has fairly good prospects for her to stay world number one; you can see a lot of paths for her to maintain her number one position,” Tennis Australia (TA) analyst Stephanie Kovalchik said.

How Barty can protect her ranking

Here is where things get complicated.

The WTA rankings look back at the previous 52 weeks. They take the best 16 event results for each player and sum up those points to determine the overall rankings order.

Players effectively have to defend their rankings points at some events by matching their performance at that same event from the previous year.

“The most important results will be at the highest-level events such as the grand slams and the premier mandatory events,” Kovalchik said.

“The upcoming events that are going to determine whether there is a change in that number one position will be Cincinnati, Toronto and then towards the end of the year in Wuhan.

“Then, of course, there is going to be the US Open.”

Pliskova, who is expected to move to number two after Wimbledon, looms as the biggest threat of dethroning Barty.

“Pliskova has a lot of points to gain over that period,” Kovalchik said.

“Ash finished in the semi-finals in Canada, and in Wuhan, she finished in the semi-finals, so those are good results and she would have to match those or do better.

“At the [2018] US Open she lost in the round of 16, so that gives her some room given her level of results this year and given the fact that she has done her best generally on hard court.”

With a busy schedule ahead, Barty’s fitness will be a factor.

An interesting side note to Barty’s Wimbledon loss was her withdrawal from the doubles. She and partner Victoria Azarenka were seeded 10th but did not play their third-round match.

When asked about managing her workload around doubles draws at future events, she sighted balance as the key.

“It’s all about making sure the body is feeling healthy and feeling right,” Barty said.

Barty also has the Fed Cup final against France in Perth in November to prepare for, where Australia is trying to win the tournament for the first time since 1974.

Tight margins

The current WTA rankings ladder is the tennis equivalent of a log jam, with Barty on 6,495 points, followed by Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova, both within 500 points.

“We are talking about a few hundred points separating the one, two and the three positions and I would expect that to stay the same given the nature of the women’s tennis at the moment,” Kovalchik said.

To put that in perspective, there’s a 415-point difference between winning a regular-season WTA Final and actually finishing runner-up in the same event.

Current women’s singles rankings

Rank Player/Nation Age Points
1 Ashleigh Barty (Australia) 23 6,495
2 Naomi Osaka (Japan) 21 6,377
3 Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) 27 6,055
4 Kiki Bertens (Netherlands) 27 5,430
5 Angelique Kerber (Germany) 31 4,805

*WTA rankings before Wimbledon 2019

Kovalchik said Barty will actually gain points when the results are released next week.

“She actually did do better than her result last year at Wimbledon advancing to the round of 16 compared to the round of 32,” she said.

“That means there will be an even bigger gap between her and Pliskova.”

The out-of-form Japanese player, Naomi Osaka, has the most to lose.

“Osaka is in an interesting spot because she won the US Open last year so she has a huge amount of points to defend. So it looks like Osaka is probably going to have a hard time threatening Ash’s position as number one,” Kovalchik said.

One-hit wonders

WTA tennis rankings were introduced in 1975 and first became a weekly occurrence from 1990.

Barty is already Australia’s longest-serving women’s world number one, having occupied the spot for three weeks by the end of the Wimbledon.

Evonne Goolagong-Cawley held the number one position for two weeks in 1976.

There has been no shortage of players who have had their fleeting moment at the top — Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic, Russia’s Maria Sharapova and Belgium’s Justine Henin all occupied the number one position for just seven days.

Since 2002, there have been 16 different world number ones in the women’s singles game.

Serena Williams has dominated but since she took some time away from the sport to become a mother, a number of newcomers have assumed the top spot.

For Barty, it is about winning matches, not rankings.

“It won’t really change what we do. We will go home, rest a little bit, and then [put my] head down again work hard and head over to the States,” Barty said.

The US Open in August is the final grand slam event of the year.






First posted

July 09, 2019 15:36:51

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