Simona Halep claimed not long ago that she was thinking about being No. 1 too much during the Wimbledon fortnight earlier this summer. At that point she had already missed a chance of getting to top spot in losing to Jelena Ostapenko in the Roland Garros final. Halep would miss her second chance at Wimbledon when she lost a tight tiebreaker to Johanna Konta in the tournament's quarterfinals, a tiebreaker that would have given Halep top spot if it had gone her way.

The Romanian missed yet another chance in Cincinnati as she fell to Garbine Muguruza in that tournament's final.

However if the prospect of getting to No. 1 distracted Halep then there could be a whole lot of other players with the same distraction at the 2017 US Open. No less than eight women could finish the tournament as the top player in the world.

Halep, Svitolina, Muguruza worthiest challengers

Some post-Flushing Meadows scenarios are more probable than others when it comes to the top spot. Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina, and Halep stand out as the main contenders. But the race for top spot is so tight mainly because the current World No. 1, Karolina Pliskova, isn't a runaway leader. Furthermore Pliskova has 1200 ranking points at risk, a major total for her. Pliskova, Halep, Muguruza, Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki, Johanna Konta, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Venus Williams each has at least a small chance of getting top spot.

For two of those players it would be, a return after a lengthy absence.

Wozniacki hasn't been top ranked since 2012 and the Dane has gone through a lot since then. You have to think that getting back to No. 1 would be special for her. However for Venus Williams, a return to, No. 1 would be a return after a shockingly-long absence.

You have to go all the way back to July of 2002 to find a time when Venus was ranked No. 1. Returning to the top at the age of 37 is absolutely unthinkable. In fact it's weird to even be discussing Venus as a candidate as she wasn't a dominant No. 1 during her prime years, easily overshadowed from that point of view by numerous other No.

1s that have overlapped with her career.

Waiting for the draw to simplify things

But keeping things real, it's Halep, Muguruza, and Svitolina that are the main challengers. The WTA's website writer Courtney Nguyen made that point in a recent article (August 23rd). But the situation will be easier to deconstruct and explain once the draw is released. Some of these players will share paths with one another to certain rounds which will interject some logical implications with assessing the scenarios.

But Halep hasn't seemed overly worried about the top spot while in New York. On Tuesday the Romanian took to Citi Field to participate in the New York Mets' pregame. Halep threw out the ceremonial first pitch, making the plate while doing so.

New York has never been her best Grand Slam and it's not clear what to expect from her. However, she is just five points back of Pliskova in the standings and appears to be more relaxed than she was before.