Tennis - The World No. 1 ranking will be up for grabs at the WTA Birmingham event, according to WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen. World No. 1 Naomi Osaka and World No. 2 Ashleigh Barty are currently in a race for the World No. 1 ranking this week.
Barty is 252 points behind Osaka in the updated WTA rankings after the French Open. If Osaka wins her first match at the tournament, Barty will need to win the entire tournament in order to become World No. 1. Barty and Osaka have met three times in their career - with Barty leading 2-1, including a win on grass in Nottingham last year and in Acapulco on hard courts in 2014.
Osaka did win their most high-profile match at the Australian Open last year. While Barty is coming off her first Grand Slam title at the French Open, Osaka was beaten in the third round by Katerina Siniakova in Paris - ending her hopes for what could have been a non-calendar year Grand Slam.
The Japanese star had won the US Open and Australian Open back-to-back. The tournament also features World No. 3 Karolina Pliskova; and this is the first time that the Top 3 players in the world are entered in the tournament.
Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams is also in the draw. Top-seeded Osaka faces Greece’s Maria Sarakki in the first round, second-seeded Barty faces Croatian Donna Vekic, third seed Pliakova meets Mihaela Buzarnescu and fifth-seeded Williams takes on Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round of the tournament.
If Barty does become World No. 1, she will be the first Australian to become the top-ranked player in more than 45 years.