Whether or not Simona Halep was the rightful year-end No.1 is a subject best left to last season, for this one is all about the Romanian's attempts to fill her much-discussed Grand Slam void. How close she was at Roland Garros, for a second time, and how devastating the shock loss to unseeded, free-swinging Jelena Ostapenko would prove to be.
Halep admitted it openly, speaking candidly about the crushing disappointment of failing to close out a final she had led by a set and 3-0, saying the memories of some tentative returns on a trio of break points in that fourth game were the ones "killing" her when she resumed at Eastbourne two weeks later. Even then, she was still thinking about that match at night before she went to sleep. Or tried to.
As you would, because the defeat also cost the now 26-year-old the top ranking for a first time, and there would be three other near-misses before the honour - also Romania’s first - was finally achieved in the Beijing semi-finals in October on what she describes as the best day of her life.
On that painful afternoon in Paris, however, Halep could not have known if it would eventually happen, just as she must still be wondering if that major championship ever will.
The clay of Roland Garros appeals as her best chance, of course, and consecutive quarter-finals in 2014-15 are as deep as she has gone into the Australian Open draw. As the second seed, Halep has been upset in the opening round for the past two years, although in 2017 against Shelby Rogers she was nobbled by a knee injury that confined her to the sidelines for almost the next two months.
It is all very different this time: no Serena Williams, for starters, and top dog status for the first time. After such an emotional season, Halep recovered and refreshed with a four-week break after going 1-2 in the pool matches of the WTA Finals in Singapore, then completed a solid training block with her Australian coach Darren Cahill before resuming in Asia and earning a 16th career title in Shenzhen.