Four players are in with a chance to claim the women’s number one ranking but Australia’s Ashleigh Barty is the front-runner to make it to pole position by the end of the 2019 US Open that begins next week.
Naomi Osaka, the current world number one, Czech Karolina Pliskova who is yet to win a major but was the finalist at the 2016 US Open, and Wimbledon winner Simona Halep are all in with a chance to take up the top spot on the WTA charts by the time the final Grand Slam of the year ends.
Barty’s chances of taking the top spot are strengthened by the fact she had made a fourth round exit last year and doesn’t have as many points to defend as the current number one Osaka. What also helps is her Wimbledon triumph ensured she is now trailing Osaka by a mere 105 points on the WTA Rankings, which implies that defending champion Osaka will drop points if she doesn’t win the title while Barty won’t do that if she reaches at least the fourth round again.
Pliskova is around 300 points behind Osaka and was a quarter-finalist last year which means she needs to least make it as far as the last-eight and hope that Barty doesn’t perform well. A quarter-final at the US Open will ensure Pliskova remains at her current tally of 6315 points and for Barty to fall behind by getting knocked out before the third round.
Even better for Pliskova would be to make it past the quarter-final stage but in either scenario she will need Barty to perform worse than her.
On the other hand, Osaka, who had won the title last year, now needs to defend her title to retain the top spot with her current tally of points, 6606. If she loses in the final, for example, she will lose 800 of those points and allow Barty, Pliskova or Halep a chance to overtake her.
Halep had gone into the previous US Open as the top seed but lost in the first round of the tournament. She has the least to defend but the fourth-ranked Romanian is also the farthest from the remaining three. With just 4743 points in her kitty, a title win will also add nearly 2000 points to her tally and if the other three players’ results go her way, she could regain the number one ranking.
What’s interesting to note is bookmakers have installed Serena Williams as the favourite to win the title with (888Sport) offering 5/1 for her seventh US Open victory. Since her comeback from her maternity leave, Serena has made it to three Grand Slam finals including the previous US Open and back to back Wimbledon title-deciders but hasn’t won a major.
She will be hungrier for this one and her recent form, which included a finals appearance at the Rogers Cup – before she withdrew because of an injury – seems to suggest she is nearly back to her best.
Wimbledon champion Halep is the second favourite behind Williams, with bet365 offering 7/1 for her win. However, Halep’s record at Flushing Meadows isn’t the greatest. She has never made it to the final of this competition having gotten knocked out in round one last year.
Instead, Barty, at 10/1 (William Hill) sounds a far better proposition given that a number one ranking is also at stake for her. Defending champion Naomi Osaka has had a curious year but enters the tournament without the kind of rhythm she would like and is currently 11/1 (888Sport) to win the title, followed by Karolina Pliskova (13/1 at 888Sport ), Madison Keys (14/1 at 888Sport ) and Bianca Andreescu (14/1 at 888Sport ).