NEW YORK, NY, USA - The Battle for No.1 moves to the US Open next week with eight women having a chance to leave the last Slam of the season with the WTA World No.1 ranking. World No.1 Karolina Pliskova, No.2 Simona Halep, Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza, the tour's leader in titles Elina Svitolina, former No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, British No.1 Johanna Konta, 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, and the only woman to make two major finals this year, Venus Williams, all have a mathematical shot at the WTA's top spot.
No.1 Pliskova heads into the US Open with the narrowest lead over a World No.2 since October 19, 2009, holding a slim five-point margin over World No.2 Simona Halep. A finalist last year, Pliskova is defending 1,300 points, which means the door is open for seven women to overtake her over the fortnight.
After taking off last year's US Open points, Halep sets the target mark of 5,965 points, meaning even if she loses in the first round, the remaining seven players will have to keep winning to overtake her post-US Open point total. As Halep progresses, the target mark will shift. For example, if Halep wins her opening match (6,025 points), Venus, who can earn a maximum point total of 5,976 points with the title, will be eliminated from the No.1 chase
Here are the most likely No.1 scenarios:
Simona HALEP (ROU): Having set the target at 5,965 points, Halep is the woman to chase down in New York. Halep has had a chance to become the first Romanian woman to hold the No.1 ranking four times this season, at the French Open, Eastbourne, Wimbledon, and last week in Cincinnati. She has played a match with the No.1 ranking on the line three times (French Open, Wimbledon, and Cincinnati) and has come up just short.
Garbiñe MUGURUZA (ESP): The reigning Wimbledon champion will need to reach the Round of 16 for a chance to move to No.1. The Spaniard, ranked No.3, has never made it past the second round in New York, falling at that stage to Anastasija Sevastova last year. She comes into the US Open having won her first non-Slam title since the 2015 China Open, defeating Madison Keys, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Pliskova, and Halep to win the Western & Southern Open.
Elina SVITOLINA (UKR): The 22-year-old Ukrainian will need to reach the semifinals for a chance to move to No.1. She leads the tour in titles, having won five this season, including the Rogers Cup in Toronto two weeks ago. A quarterfinalist at the French Open this year, Svitolina is looking to make the second week of the US Open for the first time.
Karolina PLISKOVA (CZE): The Czech will go into the US Open as the top seed and World No.1, but she will need to reach the final once again for a chance to hold on to her top spot.
Wozniacki, Konta, Kuznetsova, and Venus will all need to win the title – with other results going in their favor – in order to have a chance at moving to No.1.
The No.1 doubles ranking will also be in play during the fortnight. Newly-crowned No.1 Lucie Safarova can secure the top spot if she and her partner, Barbora Strycova, make the final.
The doubles team of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, as well as Martina Hingis (who will be partnered with Chan Yung-jan), will be in a position to challenge Safarova for the No.1 ranking at the US Open.
Makarova/Vesnina will need to reach the final to have a chance at moving to No.1. If Safarova reaches the QF, Makarova/Vesnina would need to win the title.
Hingis would need to win the title and would need Safarova to lose before the Round of 16.