For the first time this year, Iga Swiatek will take over the reins of the WTA race, which technically determines the best player on the basis of the current year’s results.

Since the first Grand Slam of 2024 ended, Aryna Sabalenka has been sitting comfortably at the top of the race. The Belarusian completed a successful title defense at the Australian Open, where she became the fifth woman this century to win the event without losing a set.

But the World No. 2 took an extended leave in February, only returning to play one tournament, in which she did not fare very well. Sabalenka lost in the second round of the Dubai championships to an inspired Donna Vekic in her first match since departing Melbourne.

In her absence, Swiatek garnered the most points during the Middle East swing. She won her third Qatar Open title in Doha, becoming the first woman since Serena Williams in 2015 to three-peat in a WTA tournament.

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That earned the Pole 1000 points. She added to her tally of 390 points by reaching the Dubai semifinal, where she fell to a shock defeat to Anna Kalinskaya. However, she rose into the top three of the WTA race behind Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina, the early pacesetters.

Swiatek has outperformed the duo, who contested last year’s final in Indian Wells, at this year’s tournament in California. She has surged into her second final of 2024 with another breathtaking run. She hasn’t dropped any sets and hasn’t lost more than four games in one set.

Rybakina’s withdrawal and Sabalenka’s early exit have helped Swiatek overtake both in the race. Regardless of Sunday’s outcome, the 22-year-old will be the new race leader, solidifying her status as the current best player in the world.

Swiatek will try to become the third woman to win two titles this season. She will face Greece’s Maria Sakkari in a rematch of the 2022 Indian Wells final.