When WTA releases its new ranking on April 4, women’s tennis will have its new No. 1. Poland’s Iga Swiatek will take over the top ranking, making her the first player from her country, both female and male, to hold that position. She will also become the youngest female player to hold the top spot since Caroline Wozniacki in 2010. When she takes over as the new world’s No 1, the young Polish star will be only 20 years and 308 days old.
Barty’s Retirement Leaves No. 1 WTA Spot Vacant
Swiatek got to the top of the rankings in a rather unconventional way. Last week, the reigning No. 1, Ashleigh Barty, shocked the tennis community by announcing her retirement from the game, only two months after winning her third Grand Slam at the Australian Open. Before quitting the world of tennis, Barty sat atop the female WTA list for more than two years. Along with her withdrawal from the tournament circuit, she expressed the wish to be removed from the rankings.
This meant that the top spot was left vacant, opening the race for the highest WTA ranking wide open. At the moment of her retirement, the Australian held a huge lead over her peers with 7,980 points. The rest of the pack was more than 2,000 points behind, with several players separated by just a couple of hundred points.
Swiatek Produces Dominant Performances in Miami to Climb to the Top
However, the pole position in the chase for the No. 1 spot belonged to Iga Swiatek, who stood at 5776 points last week. All Swiatek had to do to claim her stake as the new World Number One, was to win her opening match in the Second Round of the Miami Open. And, she did so in a convincing way, beating Viktorija Golubic in straight sets.
As she mathematically confirmed her place at the top of the WTA ranking, the Pole went on to further prove her credentials as the new best female player in the world. After knocking out Golubic, she continued with dominant performances, beating Madison Brengle, Cori Gauff, and, finally Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals.
The fact that Iga is yet to drop a set at the tournament just shows how dominant she’s been. She’s now facing the 16th seed, Jessica Pegula, in the semifinals and looks like the odds-on favorite to win the Miami Open.
Meteoric Rise of the Young Polish Star
The excellent performance in Miami doesn’t come as a surprise considering how well Iga Swiatek has been playing this year. The Miami Open win against Kvitova marked the 15th consecutive win for the Pole and the 7th time she won in straight sets.
Should she go on to win the tournament, Swiatek will become only the fourth women in history to win the Sunshine Double, triumphing in both Miami and Indian Wells in the same year. Besides, she already has a tour-high 24 wins in 2022 and two WTA 1000 titles under her belt, also winning in Doha. In addition, she opened the year in an impressive way, reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open.
Becoming the top female player in the world is just the continuation of Iga Swiatek’s meteoric rise in the last two years. After a prolific junior career, she burst into the major scene in 2020, after sensationally winning at Roland Garros without dropping a set. The Warsaw-born starlet was only 19 at the time and entered the Grand Slam tournament in Paris as a 54th seed. It was her first WTA Tour-level title and she hadn’t looked back since.
At the end of the same year, she was named the Most Improved Player on the Tour. In 2021, Iga Swiatek continued to take giant strides toward the top of the WTA rankings, winning in Adelaide and Rome and reaching the Round of 16 in all four Grand Slam tournaments.
In her pro career, Iga Swiatek has grossed more than $7.19 million, not counting the Miami Open. She’s now the 28th woman in history to hold the No. 1 spot on the WTA Tour and the 10th active player to do so. Judging by her career so far, we should get used to seeing her there.