Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
She hasn't even reached a final in her last four Grand Slam appearances, but Russian sensation Maria Sharapova will become the No. 1 player in the world when the WTA rankings are released next week.
Despite pulling out of her quarterfinal match in Carson last week and withdrawing from this week's Rogers Cup event in Toronto, the 18-year-old Sharapova will become the 15th woman, and first Russian, to secure the top spot when the newest rankings are released on August 22.
FYI, the WTA Tour rankings started back in 1975.
The WTA's poster girl is currently sidelined with a strained right pectoral muscle, an injury that will require some time to heal as we head towards the upcoming U.S. Open.
Sharapova would have become No. 1 last Friday had she beaten Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova in a quarterfinal at the JPMorgan Chase Open, but the Russian star pulled out of the match because of her injury.
Instead, Sharapova will become the fifth-youngest No. 1 next week, when Lindsay Davenport will fall below the Russian due to undefended points the American claimed by titling in Cincinnati 52 weeks ago. Like Sharapova, Davenport is also sidelined by injury for the time being.
Based on this turn of events, Sharapova is expected to be the top seed when America's Open commences in a couple weeks.
Sharapova is 14-3 at the majors this year, but has failed to reach a Grand Slam final.
Sharapova will supplant Davenport atop the rankings despite failing to reach a Grand Slam final in three attempts so far this year. Davenport, meanwhile, hasn't captured a major championship in more than five years, but has competed in two of the three Slam finals this season. She lost to Serena Williams in January's Aussie Open title match and gave way to Serena's big sister Venus in an epic Wimbledon finale last month.
The glamorous Sharapova officially placed herself on the tennis map a year ago by capturing Wimbledon, which she did by shocking Serena in straight sets in the final at SW19. The mighty Serena was the two-time defending champ at the time.
Sharapova, of course, is in the midst of another fine season...it just doesn't seem like a No. 1-type year. Does it?
It clearly was only a matter of time before the Russian became No. 1, you just like to see someone earn that coveted spot with some greater success in the majors.
Granted, Sharapova is a solid 14-3 at the Slams this year, having reached the Aussie semis in January (lost to Serena), advanced to the quarters at the French (lost to Justine Henin-Hardenne) and reached the Wimbledon semis (lost to Venus), and she lost to the eventual champion at all three majors. But you would think that a world "No. 1" would win at least one of those clashes?
She's won three events this year, the Pan Pacific Open, Qatar Open and DFS Classic, including a big victory over Davenport in the Pan Pacific finale. These are all nice wins, mind you, but none of are of the major variety. The Nyagan, Russia native, who resides in Bradenton, Florida, reached the final at the so-called "fifth major" in Miami back in April, but lost to Belgian stalwart Kim Clijsters for one of her seven setbacks this year (43-7).
But of course the rankings are based on computer points, and Sharapova has certainly amassed them over the past year or so, especially last season when she rocketed up the charts with her Wimbledon and WTA Championships successes. She also opened up her '05 campaign at a sizzling 13-1 and 17-2 on her way to No. 1.
The international superstar is also winning in a big way off the court, where she earns more than $22 million a year from such companies as Motorola, Canon, Colgate-Palmolive and Parlux, making the game's most marketable face its highest-paid female star.