Iga Swiatek poised to become world No. 1 after Ash Barty’s retirement

(Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

After Ash Barty, the top-ranked women’s tennis player in the world, announced her surprise retirement Wednesday, she revealed that she would be removing her name from the WTA rankings in the next cycle. That will come after the Miami Open, which started Monday.

The 25-year-old has spent 114 consecutive weeks atop the world rankings, the fourth-longest streak in WTA history.

As a result of her removal, current No. 2 Iga Swiatek is set to take over the top spot. Swiatek rose to her current career-high position after winning last week at Indian Wells.

“It’s a new start for the tour, which is going to be really exciting for them. They’ve got exceptional players, great depth,” said Barty. “I know that if it is Iga, there is no better person. She’s an incredible person, a great tennis player. The way that she’s brought this fresh, fearless energy onto the court has been incredible.

“I loved testing myself against her. I loved playing her. I loved practicing with her and spending time with her team. She’s a brilliant person, and was one of the first to message me, which is really nice. I think she thoroughly deserves it. I hope that she can take it and still be her, do it her own way, and really chase what she’s after in her career and her dreams.”

Swiatek revealed that she “was crying for a long time” after she head about Barty’s retirement. The two faced off twice during Barty’s career, including at the Adelaide International semifinals, which Barty won 6-2, 6-4.

“There was lot of confusion in me, for sure,” Swiatek continued. “But also sadness because when I think of the player that is really complete in terms of physicality, mentality, tennis-wise, I always thought of Ash and I always looked up to her. I mean, I still do.

“It would be really nice also to be able to compete against her for the next few years and actually try to play better and better, to be able to beat her slice. We’re going to miss her, for sure.”

Swiatek is scheduled to compete in her first match since winning the BNP Paribas Open tomorrow during the Miami Open’s Round of 64. She’ll go up against Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic, who is currently ranked No. 42 in the world.

Despite the emotions stirred by Barty’s announcement, Swiatek revealed that she hasn’t thought much about the possibility of her new ranking. Instead, she’s focusing on taking it one tournament at a time.

“Honestly, when we really thought about the situation and when we read all the news, all the rules that may apply, we realized there’s no sense to actually think about that right now because we have such a short time to prepare for another tournament,” she said. “We’ve got to stay focused on our work.”