The World No. 1 ranking is no longer on the line in Cincinnati in the men's draw. However, in the women's draw, there is a very complicated situation at the 2017 Western & Southern Open. No less than five players could actually be ranked No. 1 at this time next week. Those are Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki, and Angelique Kerber. Sticking to the most-probable scenarios it's Pliskova, Halep, and Svitolina that are the players most likely to be No. 1.

Kerber and Wozniacki are longshots

Technically Wozniacki and Kerber could be No.

1. In order for one of them to get to top spot, Wozniacki or Kerber would have to win the tournament in Cincinnati and see a bunch of things go wrong for the other three players. Pliskova would almost have to pull out of the tournament before contesting a match or lose her first match, something that is not likely to happen with her. Meanwhile, Halep and Svitolina would each have to lose early. When you conjoin those circumstances with a title for either Wozniacki or Kerber then the chances of either player being No. 1 at this time next week are remote.

Pliskova, Halep, and Svitolina are the contenders

The race for top spot in Cincinnati is between Pliskova, Halep, and Svitolina. The latter enters the mix following her title from Montreal, one that she won at the expense of both Halep and Wozniacki in the late rounds.

It will be tough for the Ukrainian player to win tournaments in back-to-back weeks. Her weekend of tennis was very compact as she had to pull double duty on Saturday ahead of winning the title on Sunday.

Halep's energy levels should be higher as she didn't have to play on Sunday. However, she was in the late rounds in Toronto as well.

Pliskova went out earlier in Toronto than either Halep or Svitolina. That should make her better rested for Cincinnati. That she is the defending champion at the venue is a big part of why the top ranking hangs in the balance.

Pliskova loses 900 ranking points

Pliskova will lose her 900 ranking points for winning Cincinnati last year on August 21st.

That brings her back to the pack. In order to understand the ranking situation in Cincinnati, it helps to have a look at the varying points associated with rounds of elimination:

  • Champion: 900 points
  • Runner-up: 585 points
  • Semifinalists: 350 points
  • Quarterfinalists: 190 points
  • 3rd round: 105 points
  • 2nd round: 60 points
  • 1st round: 1 point

When you adjust for the points that players will lose for their results from Cincinnati last season, Halep needs to outscore Pliskova by about 200 points to overtake top spot on August 21st. Meanwhile, Halep needs to protect a 180-point lead on Svitolina. The Ukrainian herself needs to outscore Pliskova by nearly 400 points and Halep by 181 points.

The situations are diverse, complicated, and pretty tedious.

But to keep things simple, among other scenarios, Halep would be No. 1 if she won the title in Cincinnati. She needs to make the semifinals to have any chance at the top ranking whatsoever. But then she would have to hope that misfortunes fall on Pliskova early.

If Svitolina won the title she would also be No. 1 provided she didn't face Pliskova in the final. Halep's result in that scenario would be irrelevant, because of the draw situation. Svitolina and Halep share a path to the final, meaning that if Svitolina won the title Halep could do no better than the semis. Svitolina needs to make the final to have any chance of getting to No. 1, but the top ranking isn't on her racket: she needs to do well and hope that Pliskova falls to another player.

There are plenty of scenarios in this tight three-way race. Furthermore, we're just looking at Cincinnati in isolation right now. None of these players are in New Haven, but there's the US Open starting later this month. With 2000 ranking points going to the winner at that Grand Slam all three of Halep, Svitolina, and Pliskova have at least something to gain in that tournament.