Huge slide for fallen world No 1 in UTR rankings as Iga Swiatek leads the way

Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka pose

Iga Swiatek is the undisputed world No 1 in the women’s game right now, yet the final UTR rankings of 2023 have offered up an intriguing alternative snapshot of the current state of the game.

The WTA rankings may be the official barometer to asses who is leading the way at the top of the women’s game, yet this alternative ranking system was created by UTR Sports to promote fair and competitive play across the tennis world.

All players, regardless of age, gender, geography, or skill level, are rated on the same scale between 1.00 and 16.50 based on actual match results.

The brainchild of tennis professionals who wanted to prevent lopsided matches, UTR Sports had humble beginnings in the mid-2000s to launch a tennis rating. UTR Sports partners and investors include Novak Djokovic, Team8, Tennis Channel, Amazon Prime Video, Tennis Australia, and many more.

As the concept expanded, UTR Sports realised that by building a system that would stop unbalanced matches, they were actually developing something more powerful: a truly global rating system, capable of accurately rating players based upon their actual match results—regardless of if they were recreational players or professionals.

The final UTR rankings for 2023 show Poland’s Swiatek as the outstanding No 1, with her dominant performance in the end-of-season WTA Finals confirming she is the best player on the planet right now.

Yet she has admitted the pressure of being the player every is shooting at was tough for her until she lost the No 1 spot after the US Open in September.

“I think it’s a little bit easier to come back to the mindset of chasing somebody because that’s what we’ve been doing our whole lives,” said Swiatek.

“There’s only one person who’s at No.1. I think this was harder to get used to last season, but honestly, it doesn’t really matter for me because after US Open, I knew I’m going to drop to second position.

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“I stopped thinking about rankings at all because I felt like there was some baggage off my shoulders. I could focus more on just working and kind of getting back to the more peaceful and normal rhythm of practising.

“My main goal is to do some stuff differently on court in terms of the technique and tactics, to develop as a player, not really chase points or rankings.

“I realized how much work I have to do in pre-season because there are a lot of things I want to improve. My coach also has a good plan. Sometimes it’s not possible to do all of that in two weeks. But we kind of started doing it.”

Coco Gauff created the most memorable tennis story of the year in the women’s game as she won the US Open in September, with that victory helping her to earn second spot in the UTR end-of-season rankings.

Her fellow American Jessica Pegula is third in the list, with WTA No 2 Aryna Sabalenka down at No 6 in the UTR list.

Madison Keys does not make the top 10 on the current WTA rankings, but the American is up at No 4 in the UTR rankings and there is a similar story for Russia’s Liudmila Samsonova, who is No 8 on the UTR list and No 18 in the WTA statistics.

How does the UTR ranking work?

  • Every match has an expected outcome, and a UTR will go up or down based on the actual outcome compared to the expected outcome
  • Match Weight is calculated based on Format, Competitiveness, Reliability, and Time Degradation
  • For Djokovic’s rating this year, competitiveness seems the most impactful. It refers to the difference between player UTR Ratings, the larger the discrepancy, the less weight is given to the result.