TORONTO – Don’t look now, but Naomi Osaka could be world No. 1 again at the end of the week, if things break right at the Rogers Cup.
She would have to advance one round further than current No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, and No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova would have to not win the tournament.
Simona Halep (the No. 4 seed) is the defending champion and Sloane Stephens, seeded No. 7, the defending finalist.
Stephens v. Halep is a potential quarterfinal here.
So is Osaka vs. … Serena. That would be a rematch both of last year’s US Open final and a shocker in Miami earlier that year after Osaka won Indian Wells, arrived in Miami unseeded and … sent Williams packing in the first round.
Both of those potential matchups are in the bottom half. So Osaka has a fair bit of work to do, to outpace Barty in the tournament.
The 21-year-old lost in the first round in Montreal a year ago, to qualifier Carla Suárez Navarro. Pliskova lost in the second round to Kiki Bertens.
Barty is defending 350 points with her semifinal effort in Montreal a year ago. But she has a 377-point lead over Osaka.
As for Halep, she’s close to the other three in terms of the total number of points. But she’s defending the title, so anything that might close the gap is completely out of her hands.
Here’s a fit-looking Osaka on the practice court Monday.