There is no doubting the number 1 status of Ash Barty, after 23 matches under her belt in 2021 in her full time return to the tour post her COVID hiatus.
Her sweep of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart with her come from behind singles win over World Number 7 Aryna Sabalenka on Sunday does justice to that, a dream week that also saw her lift the doubles trophy with American Jennifer Brady, the first sweep at the Stuttgart tournament since Lindsay Davenport in 2001.
The singles win solidifies the 25-year-old’s spot at world number one, a position that was up for grabs for Naomi Osaka in Miami earlier this month with Barty now 1855 points clear of her nearest rival.
The win in Stuttgart has given the Aussie an impressive win streak against top 10 players. She currently has ten consecutive wins against top 10 players. This is the longest streak since the year 2000, better than the personal best of some major WTA players.
Victoria Azarenka and Amelie Mauresmo both with nine, Jelena Jankovic with eight, Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber, Petra Kvitova and Ana Ivanovic with seven, Agnieszka Radwanska, Simona Halep, Dinara Safina and Li Na with six, Garbine Muguruza, Caroline Wozniaki and Sloane Stephens with five and Naomi Osaka with four.
17 of her last 20 matches against top ten players, Barty has come out on top. In addition she has a winning record against five of the current top ten players. With her nearest rival Naomi Osaka the head to head is 2-2.
Barty’s work ethic and composure over the last week was second to none. The Queenslander had three impressive comeback wins against formidable opponents in Pliskova, Svitolina and Sabalenka.
Speaking after her singles final Barty said “This week’s been phenomenal for me. I’ve certainly felt like I’m taking my tennis to … a new level in a sense of being able to be calm and play with freedom and play without consequence in a way.”
A worrying message for her opponents in the months to come. The wins will also give Barty some great confidence as she continues her clay court build up to Roland Garros in Madrid this week. This year’s delayed French Open will be Barty’s first time back in Paris after being crowned the 2019 champion
Despite not playing much tennis in 2020 after opting out of the tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her 2021 20-3 run has proved to her critics that she is a worthy and formidable world number one.
Speaking on The First Serve Radio Show this week, host Brett Phillips praised Barty’s incredible ability to regroup in matches when things aren’t going her way.
“It’s her ability to work her way through adversity. It’s her ability to regroup and say okay that set happened, those mistakes happened and how am I going to get back on top.
“She is the world number one for a very, very clear reason. It is that she can fight back and her games goes up to another level and the other players are one dimensional or don’t have enough tricks in the bag” Phillips said.
From Stuttgart to Spain for the next stop on tour, a big WTA 1000, the Madrid Open with her campaign starting tonight AEST, where she will open her account against American Shelby Rogers. Very familiar with each other, with it to be a 4th meeting this year between the pair with Barty holding sway overall 4-0 in the head to head.
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