MELBOURNE: Petra Kvitova’s surging win over Ashleigh Barty to make the Australian Open semi-finals ensured Simona Halep’s reign as world number one is over, not that the Romanian is bothered.
The Czech star overtook Halep’s points total, while Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova also have a mathematical shot at assuming the mantle when the new rankings come out next week.
Entering the opening Grand Slam of the year, 11 players had a chance to hold the top spot, but that has now been whittled down.
Of the three in the running, only Pliskova has been there before, in 2017 when she became the first Czech women to do so.
To do so again she must win the title on Saturday.
Halep held the number one ranking for 48 weeks, but after her loss to Serena Williams in round four, she said it wasn’t her priority.
“The main goal is just to play as good as I can every match, to win every match I play, so the ranking doesn’t really matter.
“End of the year is more important, the ranking, so I will not stress myself about this,” she said.
Halep also suggested there was a difference between being the world number one and the best player in the world, given Williams was only seeded 16 at Melbourne Park.
“In my opinion, to be No 1 in the world and to be the best player in the world, it’s a little bit different.
“For sure she (Williams) is the best player in the world because she won so many Grand Slams. She’s been number one a lot. I cannot compare my results to her,” she said.