No one player dominated the women’s tour in 2017, meaning there was a constant battle for the No.1 ranking throughout the year. In fact five different players - Angelique Kerber, Serena Williams, Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep - spent time at No.1 during the year, which ties the record for most players to spend time at No.1 during a year since rankings began in 1975.
As we begin the 2018 season, though, there’s another player - someone who very nearly got to No.1 during a very strong 2017 campaign - who could make a record-setting return to No.1 in 2018.
That player is Caroline Wozniacki.
Having begun 2017 ranked No.19, Wozniacki put together an incredibly consistent season, reaching the quarterfinals or better at 14 events, winning two titles (Tokyo and the WTA Finals) and making another six finals (including five Premier finals in Doha, Dubai, Miami, Eastbourne and Toronto).
Her triumph at the WTA Finals - which was, incidentally, the biggest title of her entire career - pushed her to No.3 just in time for the year-end rankings, which was actually her first time inside the Top 3 since she was last ranked No.1 during the Australian Open fortnight in 2012 (January 16 to 29, 2012).
Wozniacki will open her 2018 season at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand next week, but it’s at the Australian Open where she’ll have the greatest shot at getting the World No.1 ranking back, as she’s only defending third round points there (she lost to Johanna Konta in that round last year).
Should Wozniacki return to No.1 at any time, she’d break the record for longest gap between stints at No.1. That record currently belongs to Serena Williams - who’s on the verge of returning to tennis as a mom - and who went five years and 29 days between stints at No.1 between August 10, 2003 and September 8, 2008. At this point, Wozniacki would be close to six years, if not more.
Wozniacki has spent 67 career weeks at No.1, all in a 68-week span between October 2010 and January 2012, with Kim Clijsters sneaking in there for one week from February 14 to 20, 2011.
And for a taste of the kind of form Wozniacki has been in lately, here are some highlights from her win over Venus Williams in the final of the WTA Finals - her first win against the American in eight tries: