Australian Ash Barty crowns World Tennis Ranking
Ashleigh Barty is the first Australian lady in nearly half a century to capture the top tennis world ranking after claiming her third title of a phenomenal 2019 season.
Aside from her German double partner Julia Goerges 6-3 7-5 in Sunday’s final of the Birmingham Classic, Barty cast friendship not only to secure the No.1 world ranking but also possibly top-seed status for Wimbledon beginning July 1.
Continuing her notable return to the sport after a 21-month hiatus and playing professional cricket, 23-year-old Barty will take over Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka when the fresh rankings will be published on Monday.
In doing so, her mentor and indigenous idol Evonne Goolagong Cawley will be joined by the newly crowned French Open champion as only the second Australian to top the WTA rankings since they were launched in 1973.
Barty’s upward path was nothing but unconventional. At the end of 2014, the former junior Wimbledon champion took an indefinite break from tennis, lately citing mental health problems as the reason, and played Brisbane Heat’s Big Bash cricket before returning to tennis in 2016.The increase of the Queenslander has been noteworthy since then.
Barty is the 27th female to be number one since the introduction of WTA rankings in 1975. For a fortnight in 1976, seven-time grand slam champion Goolagong Cawley reached No.1.
“It’s just been the most incredible journey for myself and my team, you always dream of number one as a little kid but for it to become a reality is incredible. It’s not something that was even in my realm this year; we were aiming to be top 10 and now to be where we are is a testament to the people around me who’ve been with me these last three years. It has been such an amazing journey. We started from scratch, without a ranking, and to be where we are is a massive achievement for me and for them. It’s a dream come true.”
John Newcombe, Patrick Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt, who spent 80 weeks at the 2001-2003 summit, are the only other Australians to be the No.1 world.
Barty looked calm and composed throughout the final, despite the award at stake, just as she did in the Roland Garros final a fortnight ago when she beat Marketa Vondrousova.
The Queenslander did not drop a set in five games in Birmingham making a seamless shift from clay to grass. Before withdrawing from their planned semi-final to preserve energy for singles she abandonned a set in her opening two doubles matches in Birmingham with Goerges.
Barty crunched nine aces in her search of more honours, broke Goerges three times and fell to serve only once in her sixth career title with #19 world win.
In the second set, Barty trailed 3-0 but, once again demonstrating her champion characteristics, she battled back in typically unflattering fashion, saving a set point 5-4 down with her seventh as before finally winning after an hour and 28 minutes.