Sabalenka Secures World No. 2 Ranking Thanks To Gauff Loss In Rome

Sabalenka Secures World No. 2 Ranking Thanks To Gauff Loss In Rome

by Nurein Ahmed

Aryna Sabalenka will remain World No. 2 after the Italian Open regardless of the outcome of Saturday's final against Iga Swiatek.

Sabalenka and Gauff arrived at the last WTA 1000 tournament before Roland Garros almost neck and neck in the rankings. The Belarusian held off the young American from taking over her number two ranking in Madrid following her runner-up finish.

But she had not secured that position. Sabalenka and Gauff were separated by just 185 points before the Italian Open. And with both players guaranteed to gain points after losing early in their last visit to Rome, it promised to be an entertaining battle.

Sabalenka and Gauff were drawn in opposite halves, meaning they could only meet in the final. But the 20-year-old did not make it after losing to the indefatigable Swiatek in Thursday's marquee semifinal.

Sabalenka only needed to match Gauff's result in the Eternal City to retain the World No. 2 ranking. And the woman from Minsk did what the doctor ordered.

She navigated a difficult opening week, beating Katie Voylnets and Dayana Yastremska, and then saved three match points against Elina Svitolina in a late-night thriller in the last 16.

Since that match, Sabalenka has shifted to another gear and has played some of her best tennis to take down two powerful hitters, Jelena Ostapenko and Danielle Collins, without losing a set.

She will contest the Rome final for the first time in her career. It will be a rematch of the Madrid final from two weeks ago, in which she lost to Swiatek in an epic.

The 26-year-old has a 500-point advantage over Gauff in the live rankings, and should she win the title, the gap will increase to 850 points. Because she has secured the World No. 2 ranking after the tournament, Sabalenka will be the second seed at Roland Garros.


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