The WTA have started preparations to resume their ranking system as the tour looks to return to normal for the 2021 season. Last year, the ranking system froze due to the pandemic, and players who did not play didn’t lose points.
The WTA model has already slightly changed this year with more of an alignment to the ATP Tour, making it easier for those following the tour to compare the tournament levels.
This allowed players to retain ranking points, like Ash Barty staying number one for the entire season. The 2019 French Open champion was able to hold her Roland Garros points despite not playing the 2020 edition.
The change to the ranking system will aim to seamlessly get the WTA back to a normal 52-week system as soon as possible.
Points awarded at events that were played in the 2019 season but not 2020, however are scheduled for 2021 will drop off the players total after 104 weeks.
Player points will drop off at events that ran in 2019 but have not since been played or scheduled once the tournament is back on the tour.
For tournaments that were rescheduled to a different start date in 2020, there are a few other factors that have been taken into consideration when aligning the ranking system.
Barty along with other players did not travel last year due to the risk of contracting COVID-19. With this in mind, the WTA have applied the rule; 2019 points will remain in place for 104 weeks. Ash for example will have her 1000 points drop off at the end of this as the defending champion at Miami. For her to stay number 1, she needs to reach the Miami Open final this weekend. If she doesn’t, Naomi Osaka will need to win Miami to become World Number 1.
Points awarded at 2020 events with a different start date will drop off after 52 weeks if the result is better than the players 2021 result. However, if the 2021 result is better, the 2020 points will come off.
Glancing an eye over the tournaments coming up would suggest a lot of the top players are picking and choosing which tournaments they play.
This has opened the door for a few just outside the top to now start moving up the ranks if the higher players do not attend events.
This could mean a boost for those coming back from injury and time off. With the likes of Andreescu and Keys returning to the tour after large stints off court, look for Andreescu to make a huge push prior to the French Open. The young Canadian is already playing some great tennis in Miami with her advancement to the quarter finals at the time of writing.
It could also be a huge benefit for Madison Keys, who will look to solidify her spot in the top 20. For this to happen, Keys will need to get back to her top form and heavy hitting. The opportunity is there, she just needs to take it.
The ‘American Rise’ will benefit as well, as the up and coming players from the USA find their feet on tour in 2021 after a strong Australian Summer. Australian Open runner-up Jennifer Brady will look to continue her fine form as she strives to finish in the top 10.
Jessica Pegula, Alison Riske and Amanda Anisimova will also look to have some deep runs in tournaments to leapfrog their opponents in the rankings. Pegula is having an incredible start to 2021, and keep an eye on Danielle Collins and Coco Gauff, who are starting to find more consistent form this season.
Iga Swiatek will benefit from winning tournaments this season. With players above her now at risk of losing points, it is almost certain the 19-year-old will make a rise up the ranks to sit comfortably in the top 10. The French Open champ will get the opportunity to defend her title in May, just seven months after claiming her 2020 crown.
All modifications will come into effect after the conclusion of the 1000 event in Miami when the new ranking come out next Monday.
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