Despite not having played a tennis match since February, Ashleigh Barty is ending the season as the No.1 player in the world, thanks to the WTA’s revised ranking system introduced because of the coronavirus pandemic. People’s opinions are polarized regarding this situation.
How rankings work
Traditionally, the WTA rankings take into account a player’s best 16 tournaments for singles and 11 for doubles in a 52-week period. When the pandemic started, the WTA decided to freeze the rankings and then came up with a revised system which also counts in a player’s best 16 results in singles and best 11 results in doubles, but based on the points earned from March 2019 through December 2020. Moreover, the revised system includes the “Better of 2019 and 2020” points earned at Tour-level and Grand Slam events.
How Ashleigh Barty retained her No.1 position
Ashleigh Barty first climbed to No.1 in June 2019 and is now ending the season at the top spot for the second time in a row. The Australian has now spent a total of 50 weeks atop the singles rankings.
Since Barty lives in distant Australia, she was in the worst position to join the post-hiatus tournaments that all took place in the States and in Europe, hence, she hasn’t competed since February. Before, players were forced to defend their ranking points each season, while now they’ve had the privilege of sitting on them for almost two years. However, we have to take into account that this pandemic and lockdowns caught everyone unprepared and the WTA came up with a solution which they figured was the best in this unwelcome situation.
France’s world No.53 Alize Cornet voiced her discontent with the way rankings have been calculated, by tweeting:
Really, WTA?!? Big fan of Ash but come on…
The case of Bianca Andreescu is even more controversial than Barty’s. The Canadian is finishing inside the Top 10 for the second year in a row, even though she didn’t play a single tennis match in 2020!
Barty is finishing the season with 8717 points. Second-ranked Simona Halep, who won three tournaments in 2020, two of which came after the Tour’s resumption, has 7255 points. Reigning US Open champion Naomi Osaka is ranked third for the second straight year with 5780 points.
This year hasn’t been fair to anyone and the whole world is upside down, so it is no surprise that the tennis rankings are also being affected. Let’s hope that we’ll be able to keep 2020 locked in the past and that 2021 will bring the old normal back.