Gauff Assured To Retain World No. 3 Ranking After Rybakina's Indian Wells Withdrawal

Gauff Assured To Retain World No. 3 Ranking After Rybakina's Indian Wells Withdrawal

by Nurein Ahmed

At the start of the Indian Wells Open, Coco Gauff and Elena Rybakina were ranked 3rd and 4th in the official WTA rankings, respectively.

However, Rybakina was set to defend 1000 points as the defending champion. Last year, she became the first Kazakh player to win a WTA 1000 when she triumphed at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, beating Aryna Sabalenka in their Australian Open final rematch.

Rybakina, currently ranked fourth in the world rankings, had a slim chance of overtaking Gauff. But the young American's mission was made slightly easier by the fact that she wasn't protecting many points in California (she lost in the quarterfinal last year) compared to Rybakina.

On Friday, Rybakina withdrew from the tournament ahead of her title defense, which was meant to begin in a few hours in a second-round match against Nadia Podorska. The reason for her withdrawal was illness.

This means Gauff will retain the World No. 3 spot regardless of what happens during the tournament. The 19-year-old is scheduled to play France's Clara Burel in the second round on Saturday afternoon.

And because Rybakina is defending runner-up points in Miami after Indian Wells, the gap between third-ranked Gauff and the big-serving Kazakh will grow significantly. In fact, there is a strong chance Rybakina might not touch on the World No. 3 spot for the remainder of March.

It is a big blow for the 24-year-old, who was one of the standout players on the WTA tour in the first quarter, winning WTA 500 titles in Brisbane and Abu Dhabi. Rybakina was also runner-up in Doha, where she became the first woman to headline three finals in 2024.

Gauff, meanwhile, has won a WTA 250 in Auckland and reached the Australian Open semifinal for the first time. But her form in the Middle East was largely underwhelming and she will be keen to get back to winning ways at the Sunshine Swing.


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