Stakes have never been higher for Barty

 

Ash Barty is through to another final and just one win away from becoming only the second Australian woman in history to hold the world No. 1 ranking. The stakes have never been higher.

If the Queenslander downs either doubles partner Julia Goerges, of Germany, or Croat Petra Martic in Sunday's final, she will become only the second Australian woman in history to hold the world No. 1 computer ranking.

No Australian woman has sat atop the international rankings since Evonne Goolagong - Barty's heroine - spent two weeks at the summit in 1976.

Barty's 6-4 6-4 triumph over Barbora Strycova carried the French Open champion to 6375 rankings points - just two fewer than incumbent Naomi Osaka's 6377.

Should Barty advance to the final and lift the title, she will become only the 27th woman in 49 years to hold the No. 1 crown.

And she would be top seed at Wimbledon from July 1.

"Let's see what happens tomorrow," Barty grinned post-match before preparing to team with Goerges in the doubles semi-final.

"I'm excited by the opportunity to come back tomorrow.

"Whatever happens, happens."

But Barty is not losing any sleep over a possible ascension to the top.

"If world No 1 happens, it happens," she said.

"If it doesn't, it doesn't. It's certainly not something I'm stressed about.

"If I keep putting myself in the right position and doing the right things, it may come, but if it doesn't, it's not the end of the world."

Barty, 23, returned to tennis from cricket three years ago ranked No 623.

"It would be incredible, absolutely incredible (to reach No. 1)," she said.

"It would. But, you know, for the time being, I just have to try and think about my preparations and keeping everything exactly the same and doing what I have been doing to get myself to this point.

"It's been working more times than not. There haven't been too many matches this year where I have walked off the court disappointed.

"I think that's the best thing is, win or lose, I know if I go about it the right way, I can walk off the court with a smile."

Barty is making a habit of drought-breaking success.

In March, she became the first Australian to win the Miami Open.

Two weeks ago, she became the first Australian woman to since Margaret Court in 1973 to win the French Open.

And with title success at Edgbaston, the Ipswich right-hander could become Australia's first world No. 1 since Lleyton Hewitt in May 2003.

Goolagong succeeded Chris Evert on April 26, 1976 and held the mantle for two weeks before the American reclaimed it.

If Barty loses the Birmingham final, she will be just two points - 6377 to 6375 - behind Osaka, the narrowest margin separating No 1 and 2 in the history of computer rankings.

Two more wins would propel Barty to 6540 points, a lead of 163 over Osaka, who has held the ranking since winning the Australian Open on January 28.

Barty has not lost since falling to France's Kristina Mladenovic in Rome last month.

ASH BY THE NUMBERS

2011 - Ranked 669 while still a junior

2012 - 195

2013 - 164

2014 - 218 and quits tennis for cricket

2015 - No ranking

2016 - 632 after returning from cricket

2017 - 17

2018 - 15

2019 - Currently 2. Could reach 1 tonight.

Australian world No. 1s after introduction of computer rankings in 1973.

WOMEN

Evonne Goolagong - April 26, 1976 for two weeks.

MEN

John Newcombe - June 3, 1973 for eight weeks.

Pat Rafter - July 26, 1999 for one week.

Lleyton Hewitt - November 19, 20001 for 85 weeks.



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