LONDON • Czech Karolina Pliskova rose to the top of the WTA rankings without striking a ball on Tuesday, as results at Wimbledon saw her overhaul Angelique Kerber.
By a quirk of the points-based ranking system, the 25-year-old rose to No. 1 - the 23rd player to do so - thanks to Simona Halep's quarter-final loss to Johanna Konta. Romanian Halep would have become world No. 1 had she beaten the Briton but she went down 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.
Bizarrely, Pliskova, seeded third at Wimbledon, lost in the second round to Magdalena Rybarikova but her consistent results this year, including reaching the French Open semi-finals, means she will be world No. 1 when the rankings are updated on Monday.
She also reached the US Open final last year, and has won four Tour titles in the past 12 months: Cincinnati, Brisbane, Doha and Eastbourne. "Although right now I am not celebrating a victory on the court, I have become the world No. 1. And this really means a lot to me. Actually, I can't even realise what I have achieved," Pliskova wrote in a post on Instagram.
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Despite never having won a Grand Slam tournament, the Monte Carlo-based player becomes the first Czech woman to be world No. 1 since the rankings were introduced in 1975.
Czechoslovakia-born Martina Navratilova, who won 18 singles Grand Slams, became world No. 1 in 1978 but was representing the United States by then.
WTA titles won by tennis' new women's world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in the past 12 months.
"To be crowned the WTA No. 1 player in the world is the ultimate accolade in our sport, and I would like to send my warmest congratulations to Karolina on this incredible achievement," WTA chief executive and chairman Steve Simon said in a statement hailing Pliskova.
"Karolina is an exemplary athlete on and off the court and she truly deserves this fantastic moment in her career."
German Kerber, who spent a total of 34 weeks as world No. 1, needed to reach the Wimbledon final to have a chance of hanging on to the top spot, but was beaten by Spain's Garbine Muguruza in the last 16 on Monday.
Steffi Graf spent the most weeks at the top of the rankings (377), followed by Navratilova (332) and Serena Williams (319).
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE