Spanish ace Garbine Muguruza officially took over the world No. 1 ranking for the first time on Monday, replacing Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova.
The 23-year-old, who lost in straight sets to Petra Kvitova in the US Open fourth round, had picked up her second Grand Slam title earlier this summer at Wimbledon, and followed it up by winning Cincinnati.
“Becoming the WTA No. 1 in the world is a dream come true,” said Muguruza. “Every birthday wish was always the same as I blew out the candles – to become the best.
“There is a lot of work behind this achievement and a lot of love and passion for this sport. There’s also a lot of hard moments along with the great moments. Not to mention the extreme amount of love from my family and the appreciation for my fans and all the people that have helped me in this journey.
“And I am very proud to share such a special moment for our country with Rafael Nadal, the best role model I could ever have. I look forward to continue working hard to keep this position.”
This is the first time since 2003 that both world No. 1 players on the ATP and WTA hail from the same country.
Here’s a look at the numbers behind Muguruza’s rise.
1 — Muguruza was one of eight women who started the US Open with a chance to rise to No. 1.
2 — Muguruza is the second Spanish woman to occupy the world No. 1 spot since the computer rankings were introduced in 1975.
2 — Grand Slam titles for Muguruza – the 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon.
2 — titles for Muguruza in 2017 – Wimbledon and Cincinnati.
7 — match wins and 3 losses for Muguruza against top-10 opposition in 2017.
9 — tournaments where Muguruza has made the quarter-finals or better in 2017, out of 17 contested this season
15 — Muguruza was ranked No. 15 entering Wimbledon in July. It was her lowest ranking in two years.
15-5 — Muguruza’s win-loss record in three-setters in 2017.
20 — Grand Slam main draws Muguruza has contested so far in her career.
22 — years since a Spanish woman was ranked world No. 1 (Sanchez-Vicario in 1995).
24 — Muguruza is the 24th player in WTA history to be world No. 1.
42 — match wins and 16 losses for Muguruza in 2017.
50-44 — Muguruza’s career win-loss record against top-20 opponents (12-7 in 2017).
Reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza trounced top-ranked defending champion Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-2 Saturday to reach the final of the WTA and ATP Cincinnati Masters.
The sixth-ranked Spaniard reached her first US event final by flipping the script in a rematch of their 2016 Cincinnati semi-final.
“I’m just happy to be in the final,” said Muguruza. “I was hoping to get it and my concentration was really good. Very happy with this win.”
Muguruza advanced to Sunday’s final against the winner of a later match between Romania’s second-ranked Simona Halep and 151st-ranked US wildcard Sloane Stephens.
While she can’t do it this week, Muguruza would be in the hunt for the top ranking at the US Open, which starts on August 28.
“I’m definitely not thinking at all about number one,” Muguruza said. “It’s not going to help me. It’s going to hold me back.
I’m thinking about how I’m playing and if I keep doing that maybe that’s going to get me to number one.”
Halep, who won her 15th career title at Madrid in May, has not dropped a set this week.
Stephens is playing in only her fourth event since returning from a foot injury that required surgery in January. Her run ensures she will return to the top-100 in Monday’s world rankings.
In later men’s semi-finals, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios will face Spaniard David Ferrer and American John Isner will meet Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov.
Ferrer, 35, is the oldest Cincinnati semi-finalist since 1970 champion Ken Rosewall. He won his lone Masters crown in 2012 at Paris.
Neither Kyrgios nor Dimitrov have ever reached an ATP Masters final while Isner is 0-3 in such matches.
With sidelined Serena Williams about to have a baby, five players have a chance to grab the world number one ranking at this week’s US Open tuneup event in Cincinnati.
Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion who announced her pregnancy and the end of her season in April, owned the top spot for 186 consecutive weeks through last September, matching Steffi Graf for an Open Era record, and traded the spot with Germany’s Angelique Kerber earlier this year.
Defending Cincinnati champion Karolina Pliskova took over the top spot five weeks ago but could lose points from her title run, opening the door for rivals to overtake her.
Romania’s second-ranked Simona Halep, world number three Kerber, Ukraine’s fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina and fifth-ranked Dane Caroline Wozniacki could, mathematically, all claim the top spot.
“Nothing has changed. I have a big responsibility. I’ll do everything as I have before,” Pliskova said. “I do think it’s a huge thing but I don’t want to do anything just because of the rankings. I don’t try to behave differently. I try not to see the pressure.”
Pliskova has won titles this year at Brisbane, Doha and Eastbourne but anything short of a repeat gives Halep a chance to reach number one by winning the title.
“To be number one in the world is a big thing. It shows you have been consistent. You have won the place. If I deserve the place, for sure I will win it,” Halep said.
The Romanian however remains haunted by a French Open final loss to Jelena Ostapenko in which she was up a set and a break before squandering a chance at her first Grand Slam title and number one.
“I still have bad dreams about that,” Halep said. “I still suffer.”
She’s also trying to forget a 6-1, 6-1 loss to Svitolina in the Toronto semi-finals, one for which she apologised to spectators on Monday.
“I was really disappointed. It was a horror match for me,” Halep said. “I couldn’t feel the ball. I can’t say I wasn’t ready to play. It never happened to me before, not like that.”
Svitolina, 22, has won titles this year in Taiwan, Dubai, Istanbul, Rome and Toronto.
She credits Dubai with inspiration but improved in her Canada title run last week.
“The title in Dubai really gave me that push. I played great,” Svitolina said. “But this tournament in Toronto showed me I can go there not playing my best and fight back and still be able to win the title.
“It’s one more step in a good direction.”
Svitolina’s hot season has inspired her to aim big.
“It’s very special. It gives me more energy to go for more,” Svitolina said.
She needs a title and Pliskova out before the semi-finals to reach number one.
“I know this but I try not to put so much pressure on myself. Of course to be number one is a goal of mine. The important thing is to play well,” Svitolina said.
“I know it’s very close for everyone. I’d prefer to play well at big tournaments. Then the ranking will be there.”
Kerber and Wozniacki need Pliskova to crash out in her opening match to have a chance at number one this week.
And while Spain’s sixth-ranked Garbine Muguruza, can’t overtake now, she would be a threat to do so at the US Open.
“It’s going to be a battle,” she said. “I like that I’m part of it and it’s going to be a big thing. Now I feel like I’ve got to play. I can’t miss a tournament. If I do I’m gone.”