Monday 20 November 2017 / 08:18 PM

FIGHT FOR WOMEN’S NO.1 SPOT ADDS TO OPEN INTRIGUE

The race is on for the number one women’s ranking.

Karolina Pliskova currently holds the top spot, but the top seed has some fierce competition in New York this fortnight.

At the start of the US Open, there were seven other players who had the opportunity to overtake her, depending on respective results at the grand slam.

They were Simona Halep, Garbine Muruguza, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki, Johanna Konta, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams.

However, Halep crashed out in the opening round, losing to Maria Sharapova 4-6, 6-4, 3-6 upon her grand slam comeback. It’s the latest in a series of opportunities Halep has let slip in a bid to obtain the top ranking.

Konta was also sent packing from New York without winning a match. In one of the biggest shocks of the tournament, the seventh seed and one of the championships favourites, lost to the unranked Aleksandra Krunic in three sets 6-4, 3-6, 4-6.

Wozniacki was also bundled out early, as she succumbed to Ekaterina Makarova, similarly in three sets 2-6, 7-6 (5), 1-6 in the second round.

Kuznetsova also withdrew her bid for the top spot, as she lost a three set battle 3-6, 6-3, 3-6 against Kurumi Nara.

It leaves just three players: Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina, and Venus Williams fighting to clinch the top spot from Pliskova.

Williams is the only one out of the three to have previously occupied the helm of the rankings. Muguruza has come close, reaching second in the world after winning the 2016 French Open. Svitolina reached a career high fourth in the world this year.

Williams and Muguruza are in the bottom half of the draw, while Svitolina joins Pliskova in the top half.

Williams will play Suarez Navarro in the fourth round for her chance to reach the US Open quarterfinals for the 12th time.

Muguruza is set to face a tough test against 13th seed Petra Kvitova. Kvitova knocked out former world number one Jelena Jankovic in the opening round, followed by victories against Alize Cornet and Caroline Garcia.

She also holds the 2-1 advantage against Muguruza winning their two most recent meetings in Stuttgart and Beijing. However, this will be their first meeting his season.

At the top of the draw Svitolina is scheduled to clash with Shelby Rogers for her chance to reach the fourth round. Rogers ousted Australian hopeful Daria Gavrilova to set up the meeting.

Meanwhile, Pliskova will face her first seeded opponent, 27th ranked Shuai Zhang.

The current world number one is aware of the queue of players queuing to take her spot at the summit but Pliskova has no intention of giving it up without a fight.

She’s already survived a scare against Nicole Gibbs and admitted she does feel the pressure of being the top seed, as she attempts to reach the New York final for the second year in a row.

“I think it’s easier for them to play me than for me to play them because I feel the pressure,” Pliskova said.

“I know I have kind of a good draw but everyone is playing their best tennis against me. I felt that today. I’m definitely happy that I got past the second round because I lost in the second at Wimbledon.

“I’m just happy that I have another match in my pocket and I’ll just try to improve in the next one.”

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About the author

Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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