Swiatek’s reign faced constant challenges following consecutive semifinal exits in both Toronto and Cincinnati.
Defending US Open champion Iga Swiatek suffered a shock exit in New York in the early hours of Monday when Jelena Ostapenko ended her title-defense campaing with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory in the fourth round. It was the Latvian’s first win against Swiatek in over two years as she improved her supremacy over the Pole to 4-0 in her career. While the win took Ostapenko into her maiden quarterfinals the Flushing Meadows, where she will face title favourite Coco Gauff, the loss ended Swiatek’s reign as the WTA world No. 1.
Since rising to the top of the rankings last year, just days after Ash Barty bid adieu to the sport, Swiatek held the spot for 75 straight weeks. This is the 12th longest streak in the history, behind the great Chris Evert, and third-longest first-time streak on WTA Tour, behind the legendary Steffi Graf (186 weeks) and Martina Hingis (80 weeks). The 22-year-old also spent the 10th most weeks in total at the top spot, behind Lindsay Davenport.
Swiatek’s dominance was always under threat after back-to-back semifinal exits in Toronto and Cincinnati. Hence, when she kicked off her campaign in New York last week, she only had a 11-point lead over Sabalenka as last year’s ranking points were removed. All the Belarusian required was to outperform to match Swiatek’s result in US Open.
Aryna Sabalenka emerges as new world No. 1
On Monday, with the Pole being stunned in the pre-quarters, Sabalenka is guaranteed the top ranking spot when the new list is released on Monday, September 11 following the completion of the Grand Slam event. She will become the 29th woman to claim the world No. 1 ranking and eighth player to have held both the singles and doubles No.1 spots in their career, having also climbed atop in the doubles rankings in February 2021.
“Reaching the WTA World No.1 singles ranking is something I have dreamed of ever since I was a little girl when I started playing tennis,” said Sabalenka. “2023 has been such an incredible year for me and my team and this is the perfect reward for all our hard work. It’s an unbelievable feeling to join the amazing list of other WTA players to achieve this and it’s a huge honor to be able to call myself the No.1 singles player in the world.”
It has been a stellar season for Sabalenka so far where she won three titles which includes a WTA 1000 in Madrid, WTA 500 in Adelaide and her maiden Slam in Australian Open. She also reached the finals in Indian Wells and Stuttgart while also making the semis in French Open and Wimbledon.
Sabalenka will play her first match as the new world No. 1 on Monday when she takes on Daria Kasatkina in the round of 16.
Disclaimer: Except the headline and synopsis, this story has been taken from the HT News Service.