With just five weeks to go in the WTA regular season, the Battle for No.1, and more specifically, the chase for the year-end No.1 ranking, heads full-steam into Asia. The first Premier event of the Asian Swing kicks off this week at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, Japan. World No.1 Garbiñe Muguruza is the top seed in Tokyo and is set to play her first tournament since taking over the top spot after the US Open, becoming the fourth woman to hold the No.1 ranking this season.
Jan. 1: Angelique Kerber (4 weeks)
Jan. 30: Serena Williams (7 weeks)
Mar. 20: Angelique Kerber (5 weeks)
Apr. 24: Serena Williams (3 weeks)
May 15: Angelique Kerber (9 weeks)
July 17: Karolina Pliskova (8 weeks)
Sep. 11: Garbine Muguruza (2 weeks and counting)
2017 marks just the fourth time since computerized rankings were introduced, that four different players have held the No.1 ranking in a season:
2017: Angelique Kerber, Serena Williams, Karolina Pliskova, Garbiñe Muguruza
2008: Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams
2006: Lindsay Davenport, Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo, Justine Henin
2002: Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, Venus Williams, Serena Williams
The woman Muguruza displaced at No.1, Karolina Pliskova, is the No.2 seed in Tokyo, and the 25-year-old Czech has a prime opportunity to close the point-gap on Muguruza before the tour heads to China where a significant chunk of points will be on offer. The Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, a Premier 5 event, will offer 900 points to the winner, followed by the China Open, a Premier Mandatory event, which will offer 1,000 points to the champion.
Muguruza goes into Tokyo with 6,030 points and is defending 100 points this week. She will be adding a minimum of 55 points next Monday (her "next best" result), and will, therefore, have a minimum of 5,985 points at the conclusion of the tournament. No player can exceed that point threshold this week - No.2 Simona Halep (5,965 points) and No.3 Elina Svitolina (5,640 points) are not playing this week - meaning Muguruza will hold on to the No.1 ranking after Tokyo.
No.4 Pliskova goes into Tokyo with 5,520 points. She could move as close as 100 points of Muguruza (pending Muguruza's results) if she wins the title this week.
Both women are aiming to become the 13th player to hold the year-end No.1 ranking. Currently, the only player in the Top 10 who has held the year-end No.1 ranking is No.6 Caroline Wozniacki, who finished atop the leaderboard twice in 2010 and 2011.
Year-End Singles No.1:
8 - Stefanie Graf
7 - Martina Navratilova
5 - Serena Williams
5 - Chris Evert
4 - Lindsay Davenport
3 - Justine Henin
3 - Martina Hingis
2 - Monica Seles
2 - Caroline Wozniacki
1 - Victoria Azarenka
1 - Angelique Kerber
1 - Jelena Jankovic