Ashleigh Barty will be world No 1 for a while longer after Naomi Osaka’s shock loss to Maria Sakkari – and the Australian is set to move up a spot in the all-time list for weeks at the top of the rankings.
Barty has been ranked No 1 in the world since September 2019 but there was a chance she would slip down at this week’s Miami Open.
Osaka needed to reach the final of the tournament to have a chance of becoming No 1 again, but if Barty reached the final then she would hold her position.
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However, even if Barty now loses in the semi-finals against Elina Svitolina she will remain top of the rankings following Osaka’s surprise quarter-final defeat to Sakkari.
The result means that Barty will keep the position for at least another five weeks, which would take her to 74 weeks in total as world No 1.
In the all-time standings for weeks at the top, she would surpass Caroline Wozniacki (71) and only be behind Steffi Graf (377 weeks), Martina Navratilova (332), Serena Williams (319), Chris Evert (260), Martina Hingis (209), Monica Seles (178), Justine Henin (170) and Lindsay Davenport (98).
Speaking after her quarter-final win over Aryna Sabalenka, Barty said being No 1 does not play a decisive role in her happiness in tennis.
"It's an amazing thing to be number one in the world at the moment," she said. "But I promise you, that's not what makes me happy. No, that's not what makes me a happy person.
"So whether I'm No 1, I'm No 10, or I'm anything in between, or, or whatever number it is. That number for me doesn't determine if I'm a happy person or a happy tennis player."
Barty's longevity at the top has been helped by the fact the rankings were frozen at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last year and the system was then altered to count points from further back, rather than only the previous 12-month period.
Barty hardly played in 2020 due to concerns over travelling, but maintained her spot at the top of the rankings as she was able to count points from 2019 against her ranking.
World No 1 Barty and Osaka looked set to meet in the final in Miami before the latter was surprisingly beaten 6-0, 6-4 by Sakkari.
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"She's a really big fighter so I knew it wasn't going to be easy," said Osaka, who only won eight points in the opening set.
"I felt like I haven't been playing well this whole tournament. I couldn't find a groove, so mentally it's really hard for me to play against really high-quality players with what I feel is low-quality tennis."
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Osaka has previously held the No 1 ranking for 25 weeks in total, becoming the first Japanese No 1 after winning the Australian Open in 2019.
Barty took top spot in the summer of 2019 after winning titles at Roland-Garros and Birmingham, and then reclaimed it in September after Osaka had another brief spell at the top.
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