Sunday April 4th 2021
Number 1 on an unfair list?
Tennis Queen has the perfect answer
Much had been whispered that the first in the tennis world rankings actually didn’t belong up there. Ashleigh Barty now meets the discussion about the distorted list in her own way: Number one wins the tournament in Miami – and thus builds on great successes.
Ashleigh Barty is not a woman of big words, she prefers to let actions speak for themselves on the tennis court. So she met the discussion about the pandemic-distorted world rankings in her own way: with the triumph over the assembled world class at the WTA tournament in Miami. Barty’s signal: No matter what you say, I’m number one – and I want to stay that way for a while.
Enough had been told, including about the oh-so-unjust ranking system, which in the Corona crisis would benefit the players who had collected a lot of points in 2019, but then took it slowly. Barty spent most of the 2020 season in her native Australia, skipping two Grand Slam tournaments but staying at the top thanks to new rules. “It doesn’t belong there,” whispered the tennis circus, Naomi Osaka, the Japanese woman who collected the big titles in New York and Melbourne, should be there. Barty sees it very differently, however. Although she no longer has to prove anything to anyone, she always had the feeling that she “really deserved first place”. Why should she now be punished by the pandemic?
“Yes, I didn’t lose any points, but I didn’t win any either,” said the 24-year-old about Canadian Bianca Andreescu after the final victory in Miami. Until the 6: 3, 4: 0 against the US Open winner of 2019, Barty proved that she is not by the grace of the rule keeper, but actually the best player in the world. Then Andreescu bent over and gave up in tears, which doesn’t detract from Barty’s victory.
With wit and variation
In fact, it ties in relatively seamlessly with the 2019 season, when she won her first Grand Slam tournament at the French Open in Paris and later the WTA finals in Shenzhen. After the success at the preparatory tournament in Melbourne, she has now celebrated her second tournament victory this year, and she has obviously processed the quarter-final at her home Grand Slam well.
In Miami, Barty played her first tournament away from home in over a year, and it almost ended in the first round. She fended off a match point against Kristina Kucova and got rolling, just like “Ash” Barty is getting started. Not with sheer power, but with playfulness and variation. With slice and topspin and an extraordinary feeling. Barty not only beat the Grand Slam champions Jelena Ostapenko, Wiktoria Asarenka and Andreescu, but also the top 10 players Aryna Sabalenka and Jelena Switolina.
And now the clay court season begins, which Barty has come to love despite the dominance of grass and hard courts in her home country. Let’s go for them on the green sand in Charleston / South Carolina. In 2019 she “felt better and better week after week on the sand”, not only because of her victory in Roland Garros she had “gained in self-confidence and experience”. She wants to build on that. Not through words, but through titles like in Miami. With them, Ashleigh Barty can end the discussions about the world rankings all by herself.