Iga Swiatek will hang on at top of the WTA rankings for another week or so after hot rival Aryna Sabalenka withdrew from this month’s Qatar Open.
The double Australian Open champion who claimed her second straight title last weekend with a 16th consecutive Melbourne Park match win, will not play in the new WTA event in the Gulf next week.
The mathematics means that the shaky Swiatek – who stalled in the Australian Open third round – will remain on top of the women’s tennis world.
Sabalenka said she would skip Doha but will make a post-Open return at the Dubai event to follow while standing a thin 865 ranking points behind Swiatek.
The Pole is defending the Doha title and will need to bounce back after her Aussie disappointment.
.Sabalenka won the event in 2020 but has now withdrawn for two straight editions.
Others missing will include last year’s Doha finalist Jessica Pegula, American Coco Gauff (neck problem) along with the pregnant pair of Belinda Bencic and 2021 winner Petra Kvitova.
Joining the field will be teenaged Mirra Andreeva, who reached the Melbourne fourth round at age 16 last month. Former No. 1 Naomi Osaka will play on a wild card.
Swiatek won the event in 2022 and 2023,