Iga Swiatek’s world No 1 ranking under major threat from Aryna Sabalenka

Shahida Jacobs
Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek
Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek pre-match

Iga Swiatek’s lead at the top of the WTA Rankings will take another big knock following her exit from the Italian Open and she will be in real danger of losing her world No 1 crown to Aryna Sabalenka after Roland Garros.

The three-time Grand Slam winner held a commanding 6,000-point lead at the beginning of the year and it was always going to be a tough ask to follow up her excellent 2022 with another dominating campaign.

But credit needs to go to her rivals – especially Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina – as they have chipped away at her lead and no doubt her confidence too.

With Swiatek unable to successfully defend her title in Rome following her retirement from her quarter-final clash against Rybakina, it means she will be on 8,940 points when the rankings are updated after the tournament.

That gives her a handy 1,399-point advantage over Sabalenka in second place, but the permutations get tricky for the Pole at Roland Garros where she is once again the defending champion.

She has 2,000 points to defend so will effectively start the clay-court Grand Slam on 6,940 points and will need to better Sabalenka’s result in order to hold onto top spot.

World No 1 ranking waving at Aryna Sabalenka

Sabalenka, meanwhile, has 7,541 points following her round of 16 defeat at Foro Italico and she only has 130 points to defend in Paris as she lost in the third round last year. She will effectively be on 7,411 points – a 471-point lead over Swiatek.

That means Swiatek will need to make at least the semi-final where 730 points are on offer (430 for a quarter-final).

Whereas in the past commentators raised questions about Sabalenka’s clay-court form, those have disappeared this year as she reached the final in Stuttgart where she finished runner-up to Swiatek while she defeated the world No 1 in the final of the Madrid Open at the beginning of May.

Of course, the Belarusian is yet to make it past the third round at Roland Garros while Swiatek won the title twice (2020 and 2022), reached the quarter-final in 2021 and the fourth round on her debut in 2019.

Swiatek has spent the past 59 weeks at No 1 in the WTA Rankings and that number will grow to 61 by the time the French Open gets underway on May 28, but there could be a new name at the top once the second Grand Slam of the year comes to a conclusion.

READ MORE: Iga Swiatek motivated by Aryna Sabalenka rivalry – ‘I had a similar feeling playing against Ash Barty’