Karolina Pliskova is taking the top spot of the WTA rankings without striking a ball after Simona Halep lost to Johanna Konta in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
In doing so, she overhauls Germany’s Angelique Kerber by way of the quirky nature of the points-based ranking system that sees the 25-year-old rise to the summit and become the 23rd player to do so.
Romania’s Halep would have become World No 1 had she beaten the Briton but she went down 6-7(2) 7-6(5) 6-4.
Bizarrely Pliskova, seeded three at Wimbledon, lost in the second round to Magdalena Rybarikova but her consistent results this year, including reaching the French Open semi-finals, means she will be No 1 when the rankings are updated on Monday.
“Although right now I am not celebrating a victory on the court, I have become the World No 1 and this really means a lot to me. Actually, I can’t even realise what I have achieved,” Pliskova wrote in a post on Instagram.
Despite never having won a Grand Slam tournament, the Monte-Carlo based player becomes the first Czech to be No 1 since the rankings were introduced in 1975.
Czech-born Martina Navratilova, who won 18 singles majors, became No 1 in 1978 but was representing the USA by then.
“Karolina is an exemplary athlete on and off the court and she truly deserves this fantastic moment in her career,” WTA CEO and Chairman Steve Simon said in a statement.
Pliskova has won three titles this year, in Brisbane, Doha and the Wimbledon warm-up event at Eastbourne.
Kerber, who spent a total of 34 weeks as World No 1, needed to reach the Wimbledon final to have a chance of hanging on to the top spot, but was beaten by Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in the last 16 on Monday.
For Halep it is a case of try and try again.
She would have become No 1 had she beaten Jelena Ostapenko in the French Open final and faltered again against Konta after coming within two points of victory.