The WTA released its final year-end rankings following the completion of the last Tour event at Linz on Sunday, and Ashleigh Barty retains her No 1 spot for the second year running, despite only playing just 14 matches over the curtailed 2020 season.
[COVID-19 has been] a massive punch in the face to think about your perspective and to think about the things that really matter to you on a personal level. The most challenging part [of tennis] is that we are never home for more than two or three weeks at a time, so to actually be able to have two or three months off at home [in a] forced break that hopefully becomes a blessing. Ash Barty
The amiable Aussie has not played since March, in fact, but because of the restructured system resulting from the suspension of pro tennis for several months, Barty stayed on top just ahead of US Open winner Naomi Osaka and Australian champ Sofia Kenin.
She won the tournament in Adelaide in January and finished with 11 wins to 3 losses on the year so, when the ranking points were frozen, she did not lose her French Open and other title points from 2019, giving her a clear lead over her rivals.
The much reduced WTA Tour traveled through 14 countries and regions, offering a total of 27 events as the pandemic impacted the season, including 3 Grand Slams and 3 WTA 125K Series events.
Wimbledon had to close its gates for the first time since 1945, while Roland Garros shifted from May to October, just a couple of weeks after the US Open.
The Asian swing and the usual year-ending WTA Finals in China were all cancelled due to the pandemic, leaving the event in Austria as the last of the campaign.
Traditionally, the WTA Rankings are based on a 52-week system with results from a player’s best 16 tournaments for singles and 11 for doubles.
As the Tour came to a halt in March due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the WTA Rankings were frozen, allowing ranking points to extend beyond the traditional 52-week window so that a player’s world ranking would not be impacted due to the suspension.
Under the revised system, a player’s ranking is comprised of her best 16 results in singles and best 11 results in doubles based on the points earned between March 2019 through December 2020, and includes the ‘Better of 2019 and 2020’ points earned at Tour-level and Grand Slam events.
Barty, therefore, again finishes the year as the World No 1, having first cemented her place there on 24 June, 2019, bringing her total weeks atop the singles rankings to 50.
Since the 2019 season, Barty has appeared in 7 finals, winning 2 of her biggest titles at 2019 Roland Garros and the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen last October, and then making back-to-back semi-final runs at the Australian Open and Qatar Total Open in Doha.
The pandemic impacted Barty’s travel possibilities and she skipped both the US Open and Roland Garros, where she would have been defending her title.
“[COVID-19 has been] a massive punch in the face to think about your perspective and to think about the things that really matter to you on a personal level,” Barty said,
“The most challenging part [of tennis] is that we are never home for more than two or three weeks at a time, so to actually be able to have two or three months off at home [in a] forced break that hopefully becomes a blessing.”
Interestingly, Canada’s Bianca Andreescu, who won the US Open in 2019, didn’t hit a ball at all in competition in 2020, but still finished among the Top 10 at No 7.
When Aryna Sabalenka claimed her 3rd WTA title of the season in Linz, she wrapped up the year in the Top 10 for the first time in her career, bumping 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams by 140 points out of the list for the 4th time in the 4 years.
“This is something amazing,” Sabalenka told wtatennis. “I don’t want to say anything, and just cross my fingers so more wins come to me.
“This is the perfect end to my season, so I can be happy and relaxed for my holidays and pre-season. I’ll keep working to make sure I can maintain this level next season.”
Williams first made the Top 10 in 1999 and has stayed there for over two decades but, after giving birth to her daughter in 2017, she since has failed to win a Major title and is still hunting for that elusive 24th Grand Slam to equal Margaret Court’s record.
Back-to-back finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open in 2018 and 2019 produced 4 painful losses for the American, and she missed again in Melbourne this year and was stopped in the semi-finals in New York by Victoria Azarenka, while injury took her out of Paris early, all contributing to her loss of ground and a year-end finish outside the Top 10.
Britain’s Johanna Konta ends the year ranked No 14.
2020 WTA Year-End Top 20
- Ashleigh Barty (AUS) 8,717 pts
- Simona Halep (ROU) 7,255
- Naomi Osaka (JPN) 5,780
- Sofia Kenin (USA) 5,760
- Elina Svitolina (UKR) 5,260
- Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 5,205
- Bianca Andreescu (CAN) 4,555
- Petra Kvitova (CZE) 4,516
- Kiki Bertens (NED) 4,505
- Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 4,220 (+1)
- Serena Williams (USA) 4,080 (-1)
- Belinda Bencic (SUI) 4,010
- Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 3,426
- Johanna Konta (GBR) 3,152
- Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 3,016
- Madison Keys (USA) 2,962
- Iga Swiatek (POL) 2,960
- Petra Martic (CRO) 2,850
- Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 2,696
- Elise Mertens (BEL) 2,650 (+1)
Hsieh Su-Wei of Chinese Taipei earns the WTA Year-End World No 1 Doubles Ranking for the first time in her career, and is into her 26th non-consecutive week as the No 1 doubles player.
Partnering with Barbora Strycova, who finished the year at No 2, the pair reached a Tour-leading 5 doubles finals in 2020, posting a 23-2 win-loss record by capturing the titles at the Brisbane International, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Qatar Total Open (Doha) and Internazionali BNL d’Italia (Rome).
They also finished as runners-up at the Australian Open.
Despite the limited amount of play this season, the WTA Tour produced plentiful memorable moments highlighted by emerging stars and new Grand Slam champions Sofia Kenin and Iga Swiatek, dominant runs from established talent such as Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka, and inspiring comebacks from tour veterans Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters, Tsvetana Pironkova and more.
Key statistics and figures of the 2020 WTA Year-End Top 10:
- Barty becomes the 11th player to hold the Year-End No 1 ranking in consecutive years
- Halep holds the longest active streak – and eighth best in WTA history – inside the WTA Top 10 at 336 consecutive weeks (as of November 16, 2020)
- Osaka ends her season ranked World No 3 for the second straight year, up from No 5 in 2018
- Kenin finishes the season inside the Top 10 for the first time in her career, up from No 14 in 2019
- Svitolina holds the third-longest active streak inside the Top 10 at 163 consecutive weeks, behind Halep (336) and Pliskova (199)
- Karolina Pliskova earns her 5th successive Top 10 year-end finish
- Andreescu maintains her Top 10 ranking for the second consecutive year despite not playing a match in a pandemic impacted season, becoming the second Canadian to do so in back-to-back seasons
- Kvitova completes her 8th non-consecutive season inside the Top 10
- Bertens finishes 2020 ranked No 9 for the third consecutive season, which also marks her 3rd successive Top 10 year-end finish
- Sabalenka earns her career first Top 10 year-end ranking following 2 consecutive seasons finishing at No 11
Click HERE for the official 2020 WTA Year-End Rankings.