World No.1 Ash Barty will travel to the US to take part in her first overseas tennis tournament in more than a year, but the Aussie is at risk of losing her ranking to Naomi Osaka.
Barty recently announced she was weighing up the 'risk and reward' after announcing her intention to take part in the Miami Open.
The Aussie remained in Australia and skipped the French Open and US Opens after the Covid-19 pandemic brought a halt to the WTA tour in March last year.
But despite being knocked out in the Australian Open quarter-final and missing most of last season, she has been able to hold onto her World No.1 ranking.
Barty reached the World No.1 ranking, not long after her maiden Grand Slam title at the 2019 French Open, on the 24th June, 2019, and has maintained her run at the top of the women's game since.
The Australian was helped due to the player rankings being frozen and a 'best-of' system introduced after the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the sports world last year.
Osaka threatens Barty's WTA ranking
But Osaka's stunning start to the 2021 season could see her leapfrog Barty with a strong performance at the Miami Open this week.
Barty must defend her 1000 points as the Miami Open 2019 winner.
Osaka only has 65 points to defend, so if Osaka is to win the tournament she will boost her points from 7,835 to 8,770.
If Barty reaches the final, along with Osaka, she will retain her No.1 ranking.
Recently, Barty joined some rarified company atop the women's game after becoming the 10th longest serving World No.1 in WTA history.
Either way, anything but a big performance from Barty will see the rest of the WTA edge closer to her ranking.
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