Wednesday, September 3, 2008

NEW YORK, NY, USA - It's official: by virtue of Jelena Jankovic reaching the semifinals, there will be a new world No.1 after the US Open. At the beginning of the fortnight there were six players in the hunt for the post-US Open No.1 ranking; during the first week Svetlana Kuznetsova was ruled out, and Jankovic's quarterfinal win on Tuesday night means Ana Ivanovic is also ruled out.

Ivanovic, who is spending her 11th and 12th weeks at No.1 during the US Open fortnight, will not add any more weeks to her tally just yet. Ivanovic's ranking points total can be passed by four players here - Jankovic and Serena Williams needed to reach the semis to achieve the feat, while Elena Dementieva and Dinara Safina needed to reach the final. If Dementieva and Safina are the finalists and Jankovic and Williams fall in the semifinals, Ivanovic could even be pushed down to No.5 next week. But for the moment, Jankovic reaching the semifinals means at least one of those four criteria is satisfied, and Ivanovic will dip to at least No.2 next Monday.

Williams, Dementieva and Safina all need to capture the title to become No.1. Williams and Dementieva would become No.1 outright with a title run, regardless of how the others do; Safina would take No.1 if she wins the title AND Jankovic isn't her opponent in the final (she needs her to fall to Dementieva in the semis).

Jankovic doesn't necessarily need to win the title to be the post-US Open No.1. If she wins the title, she will be No.1. If she is runner-up to either Safina, Flavia Pennetta or Venus Williams, she will be No.1. Even if she falls to Dementieva in the semifinals, she could become No.1 if Pennetta or Venus Williams beats her Russian conqueror in the final.

While Ivanovic, Jankovic and Williams have all spent time at No.1 before, it would be a first for both Dementieva and Safina, whose career-highs coming into this fortnight are No.4 and No.6, respectively. They would become just the second Russian ever to rise to No.1 in the world, following Maria Sharapova.

The sixth player who had a chance at becoming the new world No.1 after this tournament, Kuznetsova, was eliminated from the scenario after the first round, as she has 700 ranking points to defend from her run to the final last year and she needed some of the other players to lose early, given she had the most ground to make up. Her third round loss was not what put her out of contention.