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Aryna Sabalenka to become new world #1 after US Open

Aryna Sabalenka in action at the US Open.

After Jelena Ostapenko’s stunning upset over Iga Swiatek 3-6 6-3 6-1 in the US Open fourth round, Aryna Sabalenka will officially climb to the summit of women’s tennis when the rankings are next updated at the conclusion of the tournament.

Swiatek’s Streak Ends

Swiatek certainly can be proud of her reign as world #1, as she’s held this title since the 2022 Miami Open. Her 75-week streak at the top betters that of Caroline Wozniacki and Justin Henin, and is twelth all time. Yet, this is definitely a sad moment for the Pole, as this result seals the deal for 2023 being a slight downfall. Swiatek’s been able to put together empathic victories all season, but hasn’t been able to get it going late in tournaments.

Other than her French Open title defense, she hasn’t won a significant title this year. It’ll be interesting to see whether she can reclaim the world #1 ranking, something that will depend on Sabalenka’s US Open result and matches following this event. If Sabalenka loses in the fourth round or quarterfinals, Swiatek will definitely have a great chance at reclaiming her top spot in the rankings. However, a Sabalenka US Open victory would make it difficult for Swiatek to reach the #1 spot anytime soon.

A just reward for Sabalenka’s superb 2023

This result seals what truly has been a fantastic 2023 for Sabalenka. Sure, defeats in the last four at the French Open and Wimbledon were disappointing, but she’s been a consistent presence at the business end of the Majors won multiple big titles and been a consistent present. Notably, her Australian Open title and Madrid title demonstrated just what a force she is at the the peak of her powers.

That said, whilst this moment is a big moment for Sabalenka, it could create some additional pressure as she attempts to claim her second Grand Slam title. Her draw does look navigable at the moment with Ons Jabeur has been under the weather as of late, and Zheng Qinwen relatively inexperienced, whilst Sabalenka dominates in the head-to-head against Jessica Pegula and Marketa Vondrousova and defeated Madison Keys 6-2 6-4 in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, but that will also add to the weight of expectation.

Coco Gauff may prove to be the biggest test for Sabalenka, and should they meet in the final it would probably be a toss-up. While Gauff could succumb to the pressure, she also has the benefit of a vocal crowd sure to be right behind her. Of course, Ostapenko could also take out the American, but Gauff has the ability to force countless errors from opponents. For now, however, Sabalenka should focus on her side of the draw, stay confident on serve and take pride in being the new world #1.

Main photo credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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