Ranking Scenarios after Angelique Kerber’s Aussie Elimination

The World No. 1 crashed out of the women’s singles draw at the 2017 Australian Open. Serena Williams may claim top spot again.

Angelique Kerber did not start the season strongly heading into the 2017 Australian Open. She went just 1-2 in the warm-up events and did not appear to be anywhere near her best tennis to start the 2017 season. Furthermore, Kerber has not seemed to respond well to getting the top ranking. Including the Australian Open, where she was defending champion, she is 0-7 for tournament titles since winning the 2016 US Open. That’s a terrible run of form for any World No. 1 and it’s not surprising that her stay on top of women’s tennis is now threatened.

Serena Williams may claim top spot directly with the results at the 2017 Australian Open. All other players that are near the top of the women’s game can only get to the top over the longer term. If Williams wins the title at Melbourne Park next weekend then she will regain the World No. 1 ranking, supplanting Kerber. Should Williams fall in any of the earlier rounds, including against Barbora Strycova on Monday from Melbourne, then Kerber would remain top ranked.

The German, if she survives Williams’ surge at the Aussie, is certainly capable of turning things around and maintaining her ranking for a while yet. Her fans will remember that after winning the Australian Open last season, Kerber actually went into a bit of a lull for a while. She wasn’t herself again for a few months after Melbourne 2016 and that sets her up nicely this season. If she does well in Indian Wells and Miami then she could gain back the ranking points she just lost. Also the clay-court season presents an opportunity for the German to gain some points back as she only won Stuttgart last year.

The other player that is most in the mix for the World No. 1 ranking is Karolina Pliskova. The Czech survived a huge scare in the third round, but she will supplant Simona Halep in the rankings next week. If Pliskova wins the 2017 Australian Open she will not be far back of Kerber for top spot and it’s possible for the Czech to be ranked No. 2 soon.

Garbine Muguruza and Johanna Konta are the next two highest-ranked players still remaining alive in the Australian Open. If things go perfectly for Muguruza she could be the No. 2 at the end of Melbourne Park, however that would require some results to go her way with other players too. Nonetheless, the Spaniard could make a charge with a Aussie title and some other tournament results in the months ahead. Unless Williams takes back top spot, then Indian Wells and Miami appear to be the next big stages for the battle. However, the rankings could be so close at the top that perhaps even the smaller tournaments will take on some significance in 2017.

 

Shane Lambert