Iga Swiatek set her sights earlier in the week on becoming the women’s No.1 player in the world without knowing how long that quest would take.
A few days and one surprising retirement later, mission accomplished.
The 20-year-old became world No.1 on Friday after a 6-2 6-0 win over Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic in the second round of the Miami Open.
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That win, combined with Ash Barty’s retirement and request to vacate her No.1 spot, has made Swiatek the first Polish player to hold the top ranking.
Swiatek becomes the 28th different woman to achieve the feat since the computerised system debuted in November 1975.
Her rise has been steady and constant; she ended 2016 ranked No. 903, cracked the top 500 for the first time in 2018, ended 2020 ranked No.17 and then was No.9 when last year ended.
Barty held the top spot for 113 consecutive weeks, tying Chris Evert for the fourth-longest such streak ever. The Australian, the two-time defending champion in Miami, would have kept top spot after the tournament even if Swiatek won the title.
But her decision to retire and step out of the rankings opened the door for either Swiatek or Paula Badosa, the No.5 seed in Miami and the only other person who had a mathematical chance of getting the ranking.
“We’re going to definitely miss Ash on Tour,” said Coco Gauff, who bucked the trend of upsets at the Miami Open with the No.14 seed beating Wang Qiang.
The American got past China’s Qiang 7-5 6-4 to avenge the first-round loss to her in the Australian Open earlier this year.
Gauff was joined in the third round by Badosa, who beat Marie Bouzkova 7-5 7-5 in a match that ended shortly before Swiatek took the court.
No.16 seed Jessica Pegula felt right at home too, even though the tournament is held on the grounds where the NFL’s Miami Dolphins practise and play – her parents Terry and Kim Pegula own the Dolphins’ AFC East rivals Buffalo Bills.
Pegula had little trouble beating 2018 Miami Open winner Sloane Stephens 6-1 6-4, but more than half of the women who were seeded going into the tournament won’t even be around for the first weekend.
Four more seeds – No.10 Jelena Ostapenko, Elise Mertens (No.20), Romania’s Sorana Cirstea (No.24) and Liudmila Samsonova (No.29) – were all eliminated in second-round matches.
Their losses meant 15 seeded women have now lost their opening matches at the tournament with 11, including top-seed Aryna Sabalenka, ousted on Thursday alone.
Another four seeded women have withdrawn with either injuries or ailments, meaning no more than 13 of the original 32 seeds will get to the third round.
Shelby Rogers used 15 aces and saved nine of the 10 break points she faced against Ostapenko to win 6-3 7-6 (7-0).
Australia’s Storm Sanders bowed out to Lauren Davies.
Sanders double-faulted four times and failed to convert any of her three break points, while the American broke serve four times in a 6-4 6-1 victory.
Madison Brengle beat Samsonova 6-4 6-0 while China’s Zhang Shuai needed only 53 minutes to beat Cirstea 6-1 6-1.
Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic defeated Mertens 7-5 2-6 6-1 while other seeded second-round winners included No.17 Elena Rybakina and No.21 Veronika Kudermetova.