When the new WTA rankings are released on Monday, a new name will sit at the top. With a win on Thursday night in Beijing, Caroline Wozniacki earned enough rankings points to move ahead of Serena Williams and become the 20th player to ever earn the top ranking in women's tennis.
It's likely Wozniacki will stay at No. 1 for the rest of the year. Serena is defending a full 1,500 points at the Tour Championships, so even if she wins the year-end event, Wozniacki would maintain the top spot if she duplicates her own run to the semifinals.
Wozniacki becomes the fifth player to ever reach No. 1 without winning a Grand Slam. Two of those players (Kim Clijsters and Amelie Mauresmo) eventually won a Slam, while two others (Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina) have not. Every time it's happened, critics have asked how a player who can't win one of the four biggest tournaments of the year can be considered the best player in the game.
The ascension of the 20-year-old Dane will only provide more ammunition. She's only made it to the semifinals of one Grand Slam this year. She hasn't faced a top-five player all year. She's only 4-2 against the top 10. That's hardly the resume of a No. 1.
That's not the whole story though. Wozniacki has five titles so far this year, most since 2007. She's won the most matches of any WTA player in 2010. She's 5-1 in finals. When Safina went to No. 1 last year, you could make the argument that she wasn't having the best year in women's tennis. (Serena was.) You'd be hard-pressed to say Wozniacki hasn't had the most successful 2010, Grand Slam success or not.
A healthy Serena is the best tennis player in the world. A rested Kim Clijsters isn't far behind. But rankings don't measure talent, they represent success over the last 365 days. That's why Caroline Wozniacki is the new No. 1 in women's tennis. Right where she belongs.