With her win at Birmingham Sunday, 23-year-old Aussie Ashleigh Barty becomes the No. 1 player on the WTA Tour.
It’s an epic rise – not because of her talent, which has always been undeniable – but because it seemed to occur out of the blue.
Not many players go from winning at the French Open, head straight to the grass, and win again.
But Barty did it. She jumped into the top 10 after winning in Miami, and leaped to No. 2 after winning in Paris.
With the win in Birmingham, she took the final step to the top.
And in so doing, there’s no doubt she’s a big favorite for Wimbledon not only because of her current form, but because of her game.
Barty reached the third round at Wimbledon a year ago, losing to Daria Kasatkina (whose career, in 2019, has gone completely in the opposite direction after she hit the top 10 in 2018).
The Aussie has played on the final weekend at Wimbledon before. Back in 2013, she reached the doubles final (as well as the French and US Open doubles finals) with countrywoman Casey Dellacqua.
ON THE UPSWING
Ashleigh Barty (AUS): No. 2 =============> No. 1
Sofia Kenin (USA): No. 30 =============> No. 28 (This tough competitor wins in Mallorca, overcoming her last three opponents in three sets, and reaches a career high).
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT): No. 37=============> No. 35 (The Latvian won a couple of matches in Mallorca, but she has a long way to go).
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ): No. 43=============> No. 39 (Her second-round win over her in Birmingham helped knock Osaka out of the No. 1 spot).
Venus Williams (USA): No. 55 =============> No. 44 (She turned 39 during Birmingham, at which she received a wild card and lost to eventual champion Ashleigh Barty in the quarterfinals).
Maria Sharapova (RUS): No. 85 =============> No. 80 (The Russian finally returned last week in Mallorca, and won a match. She’ll play an exhibition match at Hurlingham before Wimbledon).
Kristyna Pliskova (CZE): No. 112 =============> No. 95 (A win over her twin in their first professional meeting helps the lefty get back into the top 100).
Monica Niculescu (ROU): No. 142 =============> No. 113 (Niculescu, who had been out a few months with injury, wins the Ilkley ITF and with it, a wild card for the Wimbledon main draw. Four of her five matches went three sets).
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE): No. 138 =============> No. 118 (Known mostly for her doubles success with Katerina Siniakova, the 23-year-old Czech has been winning at the ITF level in singles. She’s at a career high after winning a $60K event in Stare Splavy over Denisa Allertova in the final and stands at No. 6 in the doubles rankings).
Timea Babos (HUN): No. 139 =============> No. 124 (The French Open doubles champion with Kristina Mladenovic gets to the Ilkley final – with a Wimbledon main draw WC on the line – but falls in three to Niculescu. She had to get to London in a hurry to play the qualifying on Tuesday).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Naomi Osaka (JPN): No. 1 =============> No. 2 (After being No. 1 every single week since winning the Australian Open – despite a few close challenges from other top players that didn’t pan out – the Japanese star drops to No. 2 after Barty won Birmingham. Osaka lost in desultory fashion to Yulia Putintseva in the second round).
Camila Giorgi (ITA): No. 39 =============> No. 41 (She’s back for Eastbourne, but the Italian has played very little the last few months).
Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU): No. 42=============> No. 47
Alison Riske (USA): No. 49 =============> No. 54
Tatjana Maria (GER): No. 54=============> No. 65
Eugenie Bouchard (CAN): No. 78 =============> No. 79
Taylor Townsend (USA): No. 109 =============> No. 120
Samantha Stosur (AUS): No. 115 =============> No. 132 (The 35-year-old qualified at Eastbourne, and will be looking to improve that ranking significantly).
Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK): No. 84 =============> No. 141 (The graceful 30-year-old Slovak, a Wimbledon semifinalist two years ago, reached the final at Surbiton to start the grass season but has won just one match since. A year ago, she reached the Birmingham final, beating Karolina Pliskova, Kristina Mladenovic and Barbora Strycova but losing to Petra Kvitova in the final).
Dalila Jakupovic (SLO): No. 120 =============> No. 143
Johanna Larsson (SWE): No. 147 =============> No. 165 (On the plus side, she and Kirsten Flipkens won the doubles in Mallorca. On the minus side, the Swede has played the main draw at Wimbledon eight times in singles and has never won a match. In two previous tries in the qualifying, she won one match. So Larsson will be there, but probably doesn’t have huge expectations).