There was a big discussion whether the previous No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki's ranking was justified but not many will doubt Azarenka's ascension to the throne. But can Victoria remain No.1 for a longer period? If so, for how long? To do so, we need to look at how the rankings work.
The WTA rankings are based on a 52-week, cumulative system. A player's ranking is determined by her results at a maximum of 16 tournaments for singles. A Grand Slam win fetches a player 2,000 points while the winner of the Premier tournaments at Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing receive 1,000 points. Similarly, winners of other tournaments get lesser as it should be.
Victoria is on the top with 8,585 points. Playing in the Indian Wells and Miami Premier tournaments and doing well will give her enough breathing space at the top. One feels that the French Open will once again see a similar run for No. 1 among the top players. This has given women's tennis a new lease on life and made it exciting for tennis fans.
Let us look at who are the contenders for the No. 1 crown.
Petra Kvitova has remained the most consistent among the players in the WTA tour, either in the Grand Slams or in the lesser tournaments. This is reflected in her rankings in the last season.
Less than 900 points separate her from the current No.1 Victoria Azarenka. In fact, Petra had a chance to become No. 1 if she had won the Australian Open. But further chances will come later this season and Petra has the game to capitalize on such opportunities.
Before the French Open, Petra has opportunities in Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid to get past Azarenka provided she plays well (and Azarenka loses in early rounds). Her performance in the French Open has not been anything to write home about and hence, the tournaments earlier will be her best bet.
Maria Sharapova has been there (No.1 ranking) and done everything that a champion needs to do. The hardest thing for her now is to repeat the success once again. And the signs have been encouraging. She has been putting in the hard work and making all the right moves.
Good performances in the Grand Slam tournaments are helping her cause. But she seems to be missing out in the final stages of the Slam. A loss in the Australian Open will put her movement slightly back but not by much. A little over 1,000 points is what separates her from Azarenka.
The tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami will give her an opportunity just like Kvitova to scale the No.1 position. Looking at her performances last year, Maria will feel confident that she can do well to grasp the ranking.
Caroline Wozniacki enjoyed a long run as the No.1 seed last year until Azarenka dethroned her in the Australian Open. Because of her consistent run in the tournaments like Indiana Wells and Miami, she has managed to retain the No.1 position in WTA rankings.
Once again, she will plan an attack on the rankings by her performances in the Premier tournaments. But the lack of a Grand Slam will hurt her continuously. How she can ignore her critics and rise her game further will indicate her further progress in the rankings.
Having fallen behind by 1,500 points, she has to win the two tournaments mentioned to get back to the top and hope the other three have a bad phase together. A very unlikely event. It looks like Caroline's reign at the top will be a distant dream for some time to come.