Sport Barty's plan to continue raising the bar
Barty handed tough draw at WTA Tour Finals
Ashleigh Barty is poised to become Australia's first year-end world No.1 tennis player since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002 but has a tough draw at the WTA Finals.All but guaranteed the year-end world No.1 ranking regardless of her showing in Shenzhen, Barty has been thrust into a devilish pool containing both this year's Australian Open finalists - champion Naomi Osaka and runner-up Petra Kvitova - plus Swiss prodigy Belinda Bencic.
Ashleigh Barty has revealed how she's had to repeatedly revise her career goals while exceeding all expectations during her incredible ascension to world No.1.
Three years after returning to tennis following a stint playing professional cricket, Barty only needs to step on court and play one point against Naomi Osaka on Tuesday night at the WTA Finals to officially clinch the season-ending top ranking.
The 23-year-old says such a prospect was never in her wildest dreams at the start of 2019.
Only after winning the French Open in June and climbing to second in the rankings did Barty and her team begin to think she even "had a sniff" of making this week's season-ending championships for the world's top eight players.
Barty beats Bencic in WTA Finals opener
World No.1 Ashleigh Barty has all but secured her year-end world No.1 ranking after beating Belinda Bencic 5-7 6-1 6-2 in her WTA Finals opener.Unless disaster strikes and she can't walk on court again this week and Karolina Pliskova takes the title, Barty's 5-7 6-1 6-2 win over Belinda Bencic on Sunday night earned the 23-year-old a place in tennis history as the first Australian woman to finish a season in top spot since rankings were introduced in 1973.
Now Barty acknowledges she must raise the bar even further to hold on to top spot.
"We've re-set goals during different times of this year after we've hit a few of our other ones so I think it's always nice to keep pushing yourself and refresh your goals and do the best you can to try to bring in that next level," she told AAP in Shenzhen.
"But it's been a great year and I'm hoping to finish really well in these next two weeks.
"In the back of my mind, there's a Fed Cup final that I'm really looking forward to, too."
Barty's coach Craig Tyzzer hailed his charge's new-found consistency as the most impressive part of her rise.
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In addition to chalking up a tour-best 53 wins already this season, the French Open champion has lost just 13 times in the past 13 months.
Ashleigh Barty beaten by last-gasp Naomi Osaka replacement Kiki Bertens at WTA Finals
Naomi Osaka's withdrawal saw Kiki Bertens get a late call to compete in the WTA Finals and the Dutchwoman made a winning start.World number one Ashleigh Barty suffered a surprise three-set loss to last-minute addition Kiki Bertens at the WTA Finals on Tuesday.
"For me, the consistency level has been amazing that she's been able to sustain it," Tyzzer said.
"You expect some flat spots and some dips ... she hasn't had a lot at all.
Barty, typically, isn't content with being the first Australian woman - and non-American or European - since rankings were introduced in 1973 to finish as the year-end No.1.
After winning her opener against Belinda Bencic on Sunday, the top seed is intent on reversing a three-set loss to Osaka in this month's China Open final to book a spot in the semi-finals of 2019 season finale.
"It's obviously a very tough one against Naomi," Barty said.
"It's refreshing knowing that I get to play her now having just played her a few weeks ago in Beijing. I learnt a lot from the match.
"It's very different conditions; indoors and the bounce of the court changes that a lot.
"First and foremost it's about going out, trying to adapt to the conditions. Go out there and try and learn as much as possible, change a few things tactically.
"It's an opportunity for me to go out there and try a few different things."
Ash Barty leading charge to end Fed Cup title drought, as 1974 champ sees parallels with her winning team .
Could Australia end its 45-year Fed Cup drought? Dianne Balestrat was part of the winning team in 1974, and she thinks this could be our year.Two members of the last victorious Australian team, Dianne Balestrat (nee Fromholtz) and Janet Young, will be in the stands. Evonne Goolagong Cawley is unable to attend due to a prior commitment.
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