Garbine Muguruza is the new WTA World number one after Karolina Pliskova exited the US Open at the hands of Coco Vandeweghe in Wednesday’s quarter final.
One of the biggest stories prior to the US Open was the race for the number one spot in the WTA rankings. No less than eight players went into Flushing Meadows with a chance of ending the fortnight as the best ranked player on tour.
And after two weeks of fighting and clawing for the spot, the race is finally over. Muguruza’s fourth round finish was enough to see the Spaniard overtake Pliskova for the top spot in the WTA rankings which will be announced on Monday.
The Wimbledon champion has never before been the world number one, but after a good period of results after Roland Garros, it is hard to say she does not deserve it. It is another milestone for Muguruza, who will be hoping to extend her lead at the top of the rankings at the back end of the season.
Simona Halep and Elina Svitolina were the other major contenders for the number one crown, but they both exited the tournament prematurely. Halep lost in the first round to Maria Sharapova, whilst Svitolina fell in the fourth round against Madison Keys.
The current number one had final points to defend this tournament after finishing runner-up last year, and Pliskova would have had to repeat that result if she is to keep her ranking. She was up against fellow big server Vandeweghe, who herself was looking to book her place in the semi finals of a grand slam for the first time in her career.
The match would start badly for the top seed as she fell down an early break in the third game of the match. However, Pliskova was able to break back and take a 5-4 lead. Vandeweghe felt the pressure of serving to stay in the set, but the American was able to save set point and take the first set to a tiebreak.
Incredibly, there was only a single break of serve in the breaker, and it went the way of the World No. 22. The mini break in the first point of the tiebreak was enough to see her take the first set, and if Pliskova was to keep her No. 1 ranking, she had to come from a set down.
Vandeweghe, willed on by her home crowd, broke in the fourth game of the second set, but Pliskova fought back to break back the very next game. Undeterred, Vandeweghe re-established her lead by break for a second time. Soon, she had to serve for the match and the pressure was ramped up. Pliskova earned break back point at 5-3, but Vandeweghe was able to save it and get to match point.
The first came and went, but the American would earn another chance at victory. This time she was able to close the match out, and cement her place in the last four.
Pliskova leaves New York as, at best, the No. 4 player in the world. It was a disappointing result for the top seed who was not only aiming to retain her number one ranking, but also win her first grand slam title.
As of now, there is a chance of an all American final. Venus Williams faces Sloane Stephens in the other half of the draw, whilst Vandeweghe awaits either Madison Keys and Kaia Kanepi in the semi finals. It is a great tournament for American tennis, especially with Serena Williams absent.
But the day’s biggest winner might be the new number one, Muguruza. As things stand now, the Spanish will boast both No. 1 players in singles on Monday as Rafael Nadal is top of the men’s rankings (though there is a chance he can lose that spot before the US Open ends).
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