The race for the WTA No. 1 is being hotly contested

It has been almost a year since Germany’s Angelique Kerber replaced Serena Williams of America as the WTA World No. 1 Ladies tennis player.

Kerber, who had been hot on Serena’s heels, had a chance to unseat her at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, but was denied the title by Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

Kerber managed to avenge that loss by defeating Pliskova in the US Open final. Pliskova had defeated Serena in the semi-finals, which meant that Kerber would become the new No. 1.

Having sat through the tough three-set US Open final, I couldn’t help but wonder if Pliskova had lost the match more than what Kerber had actually won it. Kerber’s game seemed “flattish” whereas Pliskova appeared to have run out of steam with some nerves getting the better of her. She certainly seemed the more impressive player on the day.

So fast forward to 2017, with the pendulum still swinging between Serena and Kerber. 

Serena won the Australian Open, returned to No. 1, then missed some tournaments and announced on 19 April 2017, that she was pregnant and would miss the rest of the season.

Back to No. 1 for Kerber, who since winning the US Open has only appeared in two finals, losing both. A drop in form combined with some niggles here and there for the popular German player has since cost her the No. 1 position and she currently finds herself at No. 6.

There are 1040 points separating the Top 5 WTA players, with no dominant No. 1 in sight yet.

1 – Karolina Pliskova (6390)

Karolina Pliskova continued her consistent form by winning the Brisbane, Qatar and Eastbourne tournaments this year.

Despite her second round loss at Wimbledon, and combined with Kerber’s drop in form and Halep failure to make the Wimbledon final, Pliskova quietly slipped into the No. 1 position in July.

She has only played two tournaments since then, having reached the quarter and semi-finals.

2 – Simona Halep (6385)

Romania’s Simona Halep has been a hot contender for awhile already.

She has let a few opportunities slip through her fingers this year, including the French Open final, Wimbledon and most recently, at the Western & Southern Open final, losing to Garbine Muguruza, which meant that she started this week 5 points behind Pliskova.

Halep, who is a feisty, fight until the very end type of player, has certainly matured under the guidance of her Australian coach, Darren Cahill.

As someone who is a firm believer that players should not take their frustrations out on their tennis racquets, it has gratefully been awhile since I have watched Halep reshape some of them on court. 

3 – Garbine Muguruza (5860)

Very much like Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza of Spain has just quietly been climbing the rankings. 

She certainly came into her own during Wimbledon, when she was in sublime form. She reached the final, defeating Venus Williams to take the title, and in doing so, became the only Ladies tennis player to defeat both the Williams sisters in Grand Slam finals. 

Following her victory over Halep in Cincinnati this past weekend, she must now be the favourite going into the US Open, which starts on 28 August.

4 – Elina Svitolina (5650)

The Ukrainian tennis player, Elina Svitolina, is one of the up and coming “Next Generation” players and has already captured five WTA titles this year.

She will be an outsider at this year’s US Open.

5 – Caroline Wozniacki (5350)

The popular Danish player, Caroline Wozniacki, who is no stranger to the No. 1 position, having held it on two occasions already, must be the most unluckiest 2017 finalist. She has reached six WTA finals this year, having lost all of them.

Wozniacki, who is yet to win a Grand Slam title, has fared best at the US Open, being a finalist in 2009 and 2014.

6 – Angelique Kerber (5146) – Don’t count the defending champion out quite yet. If she finds form, she may rattle the Top 5’s cages.
7 – Jo Konta (4750) 
8 – Svetlana Kuznetsova (4410)
– 2004 US Open champion. Always a tough competitor.
9 – Venus Williams (4216)
– 2000 & 2001 US Open champion – what a year she is having – Australian Open and Wimbledon finalist. Will undoubtedly be the home favourite.
10 – Agnieszka Radwanska (3855)
 

With so much at stake, it is going to be a hot fortnight at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York.