Despite a disappointing fourth round exit from the US Open, Ipswich tennis superstar Ashleigh Barty will on Monday regain her title as the world’s number 1 ranked player.
Barty became number 1 after winning the French Open, but lost the top position at the start of the US season to Japan’s Naomi Osaka.
There are still many variables in play leading up to the end of the year, but there is now every chance Barty will retain the ranking at least until the French Open next year.
At the beginning of the US Open, four players could have taken the mantle. Simona Halep lost in the second round, and both Osaka and the Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova were also eliminated in the fourth round.
Pliskova becomes Barty’s new rival, less than 400 ranking points behind Barty.
In the simplest of tournament terms, that means Pliskova is in theory one large tournament finals appearance away from the top ranking.
After the US Open, most players will turn their attention to the Chinese season. The China Open at the end of September and the WTA Finals in Shenzhen in October are the big ones.
Shenzhen is where things really turn in Barty’s favour.
The tournament only accepts the world’s 8 highest ranked women players, and Barty last year wasn’t ranked high enough to gain entry to the singles.
This means any points she earns are a bonus.
Other players will be defending points they earned last year.
It’s a unique tournament which dishes out points for each round robin win. Last year, Pliskova won two matches which means she’ll be defending 500 points.
In essence, if Barty has a good tournament at this year’s WTA Finals event, she has the opportunity to significantly extend her rankings lead.
The only other wildcard is current World Number 5 Elina Svitolina who could climb to within 300 points of Ash in the rankings if she was to win the US Open.
However, she gained the maximum number of points in Shenzhen last year (1500) by winning the tournament along with three round robin matches. It’s a big ask to defend that amount of points at this year’s event.
Ipswich City Council interim administrator Greg Chemello promised after Ash’s French Open win that the council would host a party each time she appears in a grand slam final.
After disappointments at Wimbledon and the US Open, the next stop on the grand slam calendar is Melbourne for the Australian Open.
This morning, Barty was partnering with veteran Belarussian Victoria Azarenka in the US Open doubles. The pair easily won through to the quarter finals 6-0, 6-1 and will now play the number 1 seeds Timea Babos from Hungary and Kristina Mladenovic from France.
It’s yet another chance for Ipswich’s own to add a new piece of silverware to the mantelpiece.