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'It’s a dream come true to be the World No.1', Ashleigh Barty claims No. 1 ranking with Birmingham success

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 23 Jun 2019
  • Ashleigh Barty secured the world No. 1 ranking by beating Julia Goerges in the Birmingham final on Sunday
  • Barty will replace Naomi Osaka on top of the rankings on Monday
Ashleigh Barty. (PA Sport)

Ashleigh Barty secured the world No. 1 ranking with a 6-3 7-5 victory over Julia Goerges in the Birmingham final on Sunday, becoming the 27th player to reach the top of the rankings since the computer rankings were introduced in 1975.

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Barty will officially replace Naomi Osaka as world No. 1 when the rankings are updated on Monday. She becomes the second Australian to reach the top of the rankings after Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.

“It’s a dream come true to be the World No.1," said Barty after her victory over Julia Goerges in the Birmingham final. "My team and I have put in so much work and I’m very proud of what we have achieved”. 
"It’s an honor to be in this position, which has been held by the legends of our sport who I respect and admire greatly."

Barty's rise to No. 1 has been remarkable- she was excellent as a junior, winning the Wimbledon Girls' title in 2011, but with a promising career ahead of her, an 18-year-old Barty took a break from the sport in September 2014, stepping away from the pressures associated with being a highly-rated youngster in a very demanding sport. It was all happening a bit too quickly for her, and she would later put it, she wanted to know what it felt like to have a normal life.

18 months later, after a brief stint in professional cricket, Barty was back to playing tennis in early 2016, and she was into the top 300 by the end of that season. Barty accelerated into the top-20 in 2017, winning her first senior title in Kuala Lumpur, and reaching finals in Birmingham and Wuhan. The 23-year-old consolidated her top-20 ranking in 2018, adding titles in Nottingham and Zhuhai to her collection.

She has taken it to another level in 2019, winning her first Premier Mandatory title in Miami- a result that took her into the top ten for the first time- claiming her maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, and backing it up with victory in Birmingham to charge into the No. 1 spot in the world.

“You always dream of No.1 as a little kid but 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. We started from scratch, without a ranking, and to be where we are is a massive achievement for me and for them".

Players have often spoken about the difficulty in making the swift transition from clay to grass, but Barty has made the change seamlessly, following up her French Open excellence with a superb title run in Birmingham.

The Australian made light work of a very difficult draw, surging to the title without dropping a set. She defeated the grass-savvy Donna Vekic, Nottingham semi-finalist, Jennifer Brady, grass-court great, Venus Williams and two-time Birmingham finalist, Barbora Strycova and the hard-hitting Julia Goerges to claim the title, stretching her winning streak to 12 matches.

Barty made the slower start in Sunday's final against Goerges, conceding two break points in the opening game, but she fended off that danger, and went on to hold to open the match. She forced the first break of the set in the sixth game, and maintained that advantage to take the opener.

The French Open champion was made to work harder in the second set as Goerges mounted a fightback, but the Aussie battled back from a 0-3 deficit, and then saved a set point while serving to stay in the set at 4-5 before going on to complete a 6-3 7-5 victory after 88 minutes.

Barty's backhand slice typically played a prominent role in the victory, while she also served very well, sending down nine aces and winning 79% of points on her first serve. She hit 18 winners and just 11 unforced errors in a very clean performance.

She is next scheduled to play at Eastbourne- interesting to see if she will play over there- and will surely head into Wimbledon as one of the heavy favourites for the title.

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"It’s a dream come true to be the World No.1", Ashleigh Barty claims No. 1 ranking with Birmingham success

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