Sport Ashleigh Barty beaten by last-gasp Naomi Osaka replacement Kiki Bertens at WTA Finals
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.
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World number one Ashleigh Barty suffered a surprise three-set loss to last-minute addition Kiki Bertens at the WTA Finals on Tuesday.
Bertens was called in to take Naomi Osaka's spot after the Japanese suffered a right shoulder injury and the Dutchwoman promptly made an impact in the Red Group.
After losing the first set, Bertens battled back to triumph 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Shenzhen, claiming her first win over Barty at the sixth attempt.
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.
Barty, who came from a set down to win her opening match against Belinda Bencic, was the first player to qualify for the season-ending tournament back in early September but she failed to justify her tag as favourite for the title in a largely disjointed display.
It was a contest in which breaks of serve were frequent and a run of five defined the opener, Barty edging that back-and-forth to nudge ahead.
She was a break up in the second as a similar pattern emerged, but a first-serve percentage of just 41 was always likely to prove problematic and Bertens was producing more winners to further tip the balance in her favour.
With Barty serving at 4-3 down, Bertens sensed her opportunity and was the primary aggressor, striking for the lines and putting the French Open champion on the back foot.
Barty's plan to continue raising the bar
Not content with the year-end world No.1 ranking, Ashleigh Barty is intent on booking a spot in the WTA Finals with a win over Naomi Osaka on Tuesday night.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.
Pictures: Meet the 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff (USA Today)
Having fought to take the contest into a third set, Bertens was in no mood to relent and she stormed into a 4-0 lead, even fluffing two break-point openings to make it 5-0.
Despite a rally that saw the gap cut to 4-3, the die was cast and Barty was consigned to defeat in a clash that lasted over two hours.
Barty still hungry to win Fed Cup title .
Winning big in the WTA Finals tournament hasn't satisfied Australia's world No.1 Ashleigh Barty, who says the Fed Cup trophy is still a major prize for her.Barty arrived in Perth on Tuesday from Shenzhen, China, where she won the season-ending WTA Finals tournament and pocketed more than $A6m in prizemoney.
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