WTA Finals 2023 – who will finish world number one?

One of the most important events of the WTA season is on the doorstep. The 2023 WTA Finals is set to start in just a couple of days, and fans are patiently waiting for the official draw to be released later this evening. Yet prior to that, you might like to check out our 2023 WTA Finals preview to see who’s competing, the tournament format, scheduling, and more. However, I shall leave that for you to explore on your own time. Right here, I want to highlight the upcoming battle of two heavyweights of the WTA tennis world. 

2023 WTA Finals

As you may have guessed, the WTA Finals 2023 is set to include the world number one and world number two in an all-out competition to see who finishes on top. To clarify, the current world number one is Aryna Sabalenka, and she took the crown from Iga Swiatek following her finals run at the 2023 US Open. Of course, this means that the world number two is Iga Swiatek, yet there isn’t a word of difference between these two in terms of points.

And there is good news for Iga Swiatek when it comes to her chances of taking back the top spot and ending the year as the world number one. All of this is explained in detail in the following sections. 

2023 WTA Finals – the mathematics behind this battle

Come on, there had to be some math behind the possibilities at the WTA Finals this year. Otherwise, we’d have no idea who could rank where once all is said and done. So with that in mind, let me give you the current state of play for Sabalenka and Swiatek in terms of their individual point totals:

  • Aryna Sabalenka – world number one – 8425 points
  • Iga Swiatek – world number two – 7795 points

Note that these are the official cumulative points, as shown in the latest WTA rankings, which were released on Monday, October 23rd. And while this might look like a significant difference, it is by no means an impossibility for Iga Swiatek to overtake Sabalenka in Cancun next week. To emphasize exactly how possible this is, I’ve chosen to break down the state of play for these two players in the respective sections below.

Aryna Sabalenka at the WTA Finals 2023

Okay, so Aryna Sabalenka is the top dog at the moment. Since she has the most WTA points of all the players, she is set to be the number-one seed at the 2023 WTA Finals. And as you also know, she has 8425 WTA points coming into the tournament, which means she is 630 points ahead of her Polish rival. Therefore, Aryna Sabalenka is in the driver’s seat in terms of who will finish number one once the final ball is struck in Cancun. 

As for how she can guarantee the year-end number-one ranking, there are a few possibilities. Yet the ideal target for Sabalenka is to qualify through the group with at least two group stage wins, which would take her through to the semis. Should she then make the finals, the number one spot is guaranteed, no matter how Swiatek performs in the tournament. 

Iga Swiatek at the 2023 WTA Finals

As you can see from my breakdown of Sabalenka’s position coming into the WTA Finals, the number one ranking isn’t really on Swiatek’s racket. This means she isn’t in control, but then again, she can take care of what she can control to try and influence the outcome. So, how does it truly look for Swiatek’s chances of finishing the 2023 season as the world number one? Well, she has 7795 WTA points – 630 less than Sabalenka. 

Because of this, if Sabalenka simply plays all of her group stage matches, Swiatek has to reach the final to even have a shot of taking back the top spot. Assuming Sabalenka qualifies through the group, one of two possibilities could arise. 

Firstly, if Sabalenka qualifies with two group stage wins, Swiatek must win at least two group stage matches and win the tournament. Secondly, if Sabalenka swept the group and qualified with three group-stage wins, Swiatek would need to match that and win the title.

Who will come out on top?

Given that Swiatek must win the tournament if Sabalenka qualifies through the group stage, I’d have to say that Aryna Sabalenka is most likely to finish as the year-end number one. Yet who knows, if Sabalenka fails to qualify and Swiatek has a dream run, which she is certainly capable of, we might see Iga Swiatek snatch the top spot from her biggest rival! 

Whatever happens, it should be a fun week of tennis to watch in Cancun.

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