Ash Barty’s No.1 ranking atop the WTA hierarchy is being called into question after another disappointing run at her home grand slam.
Despite crashing out in the quarter-final after nearly a year off from tennis, Barty is still miles clear atop the rankings, with Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka languishing in second over 1000 points behind.
Since the 2018 US Open final, Osaka has won four of the nine grand slams held. No other player has won more than one.
Barty has only reached the semi-finals of a grand slam twice in her career, and currently holds no grand slam title to her name after Polish youngster Iga Swiatek claimed Roland Garros in 2020.
The are growing concerns around the game that the WTA rankings may need reassessing after the governing body introduced dramatic changes to its system as a result of the tour being derailed by COVID-19.
Those changes greatly benefitted Barty who was thrust to World No.1 under the new system which relied heavily on her red-hot second half of the 2019 season.
Rather than its usual rolling 52-week window, the WTA revealed it would instead rely on a player’s best 16 results in tournaments since March 2019 to determine where they sit – dubbed the “frozen rankings” system.
The rankings are now being labelled “deeply out of sync” with the reality that Barty’s No.1 status does not reflect her place in the pecking order.
“I understand the reasons & the pandemic-adjusted WTA rankings have worked well enough until now in my view but they now seem deeply out of sync with reality with Barty still No 1 by a healthy margin holding no Slam titles (or finals) & playing so little,” New York Times tennis reporter Christopher Clarey Tweeted.
If Barty is to defend her No.1 ranking she’ll have to travel abroad this year and play as much as possible, which she indicated she would be doing in the coming months.
“We’ve planned and we’ve entered to play a few of the tour events coming up in the Middle East,” she said of her plan now.
“Right from the get-go, obviously it’s the first time we’ve looked to travel for quite some time now. We’ll sit back and kind of go through all of the health risks that are at this stage and to where we’re going, then we just work from there.”
Barty’s lead at the top with 9186 points appears certain to come under siege from Osaka (7835 points), while Simona Halep is also in the contest with 7255 points.