Forget what you see, tennis fans. You might check the current WTA rankings and those rankings might say that Aryna Sabalenka is the top player. But according to one player on the WTA tour, the rankings are a lie. The best player should be Iga Swiatek.
And the player making the claim is no slouch. Russia Liudmila Samsonova, who is ranked 15, might just be wanting to build up some kind of rivalry with Sabalenka. Samsonova was asked about the rankings in a recent interview. While the interview was in English, the language barrier appeared to be no issue.
Samsonova was extremely clear in her assessment of Iga Swiatek being No. 1. She said, “Iga (Swiatek). 100 percent. I feel like she’s the real number 1. We were speaking together in the Beijing Final, she came to me and was very nice during the ceremony. She was like ‘I know sometimes it’s tough.’ When I started to know her better and got closer to her, I felt something special.”
Is Iga Swiatek the “real number 1” on the WTA tour?
OK, so her response is a little weird. Set the “real No. 1” part aside for a second. Samsonova seems to be talking about her favorite player on the tour right now, not who she thinks is best, right? But getting back to the top player part, saying a certain player is the “real number 1” leaves little doubt.
Of course, Samsonova did recently lose to Iga Swiatek at the China Open so maybe her memory of Swiatek versus Sabalenka is just fresher. Swiatek easily dispatched Samsonova 6-2 6-2. Samsonova also leads the all-time head-to-head against Sabalenka 2-1. Maybe Samsonova simply doesn’t think she is very good and if she can beat Sabalenka then maybe Sabalenka isn’t very good either. That’s just a guess.
Sabalenka has made at least the semifinals in the last five Grand Slams, but she has won only one, the 2023 Australian Open. Iga Swiatek has failed to make the semifinals in all but one major in 2023. But the one where she made the final, the French Open, she won. Swiatek has won four Grand Slams in her career with three coming at the French.
The good thing is Samsonova’s theory about who is the best will play out over the years to come. Swiatek is only 22 years old while Sabalenka is only 25. Plus, Coco Gauff is only 19 years old. WTA tennis should be must-watch for the next decade, at least.