With Serena Williams out for most of the rest of this season due to her pregnancy, the race for WTA No. 1 is wide open. Angelique Kerber currently holds the spot, but after a first round exit in Paris she is vulnerable. In addition, three of the top six ranked players will be playing in the quarterfinals. Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, and Elina Svitolina have a chance to either take the top spot with a title or put themselves in a position to fight for it the rest of the season.
Pliskova, Kerber, Halep, Svitolina Fight for World No. 1
Distant but in the hunt Competition
Last year’s French Open champion Garbine Muguruza currently sits at 5th, but after her fourth round loss in this year’s tournament, she will lose significant points and drop further back in the rankings. She struggles on hard court, making her chances to challenge the top spot this season pretty slim. Svitolina has had a strong season and has less points to defend, but there is a bit of a points gap ahead of the top players. However, she is one of the top contenders at Roland Garros given her strong recent performances on clay. Her point boost with a title will put her in the hunt for the number one ranking, but it will still take a strong performance at Wimbledon and the hard court premier tournaments to keep her in the competition. Svitolina owns the most points of any player in 2017, but her lack of experience on big stages makes it difficult to predict where she will stand at year’s end.
After a run to the US Open final last year, Pliskova has been a contender in every tournament she has played in. She has skyrocketed to third, and will soon be the No. 2 player in the world without Serena playing. She is less than 1000 points behind current #1 Kerber, and with a couple more wins, can earn 1300 points for a runner-up and 2000 for a title. Clay is not her best surface, but she is in incredible form and just three wins away from securing the top spot. Halep has been playing some of her best tennis of late, reaching back to back finals in Rome and Madrid. She is not far behind Pliskova, and also stands to jump Serena soon, and can even catch Kerber with a title in Paris. She has had some mental issues but if her focus and confidence is on point, she is difficult for any player to defeat on any surface. Kerber is not to be counted out. Although she is losing a lot of points this tournament, clay is her weakest surface and this is the last time she will have to play on clay in 2017. She is the defending US Open champion and will be playing hard on the grass and hard courts to remain at her No. 1 spot.
A lot more will come clear about the rankings in the next few days. Halep plays Svitolina in the quarterfinal, and the winner will take on Pliskova if the latter is victorious over Caroline Garcia. The match-up is also intriguing due to a drawback of both players. Halep has had continued success on tour, but has often struggled to replicate that in Majors. Svitolina has only made it past the third round of a major once before this tournament, so this is uncharted territory under pressure. Whoever emerges from the bottom half of the draw will obviously be the best off rankings-wise, as well as the likely favorite in the final because the three highest seeded players are all in the bottom half of the draw. This makes for exciting quarterfinal and semifinal rounds with a lot on the line this week and for the rest of the year.
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