Ash Barty will chase Naomi Osaka’s No. 1 ranking on British soil during grass-court season

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Ash Barty will chase Naomi Osaka's No. 1 ranking on British soil during grass-court season



Ash Barty has the world No. 1 ranking in her sights (Picture: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)Ash Barty admitted her ‘next goal’ is to become world No. 1 after winning her first Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, and she will get a shot at rising to the top of the WTA rankings during the British grass-court season.
The Australian will rise to world No. 2 on Monday after thumping Marketa Vondrousova in Saturday’s Roland Garros final, moving within 136 points of top-ranked Japanese Naomi Osaka.
Not since Evonne Goolagong in 1976 has an Aussie woman sat atop of the WTA leaderboard but having not gone beyond the third round at Wimbledon – a tournament many fancy Barty to win this year – in 2018, there’s a chance she could end that 43-year wait next month.
‘Obviously that’s the next point, the next goal, the next situation I can see myself in,’ Barty said after lifting the title.
‘Being No 2 in the world is incredible. It’s something I never dreamt of as a child. We’ll keep chipping away and try our best to get to No 1.’

Naomi Osaka will look to defend her top rankings spot (Picture: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)Barty, 23, and Osaka, 21, will defend fewer than 600 points each after their efforts in Nottingham, Birmingham, Eastbourne and Wimbledon last season, with Osaka looking to build on the 295 points she amassed in 2018 and Barty doing the same off 565 points.
Osaka, too, fell at the third round at Wimbledon last season and will no doubt be looking to advance beyond that stage.
Interestingly, Barty – whose favourite surface is grass – defeated Osaka in the semi-finals of Eastbourne last year. It’s a Wimbledon final many would relish.
Eastbourne is a tournament she holds close to her heart. It was the first event she competed at upon her return from a near-two-year absence from the sport as she left to pursue a career in professional cricket.
‘I was very nervous,’ she recalled. ‘I didn’t even know If I would get in the draw. I only got in the draw because it wasn’t full in qualifying.
‘It was pretty nice to back and almost slip into tournament mode straightaway. My routines and my habits came back very quickly.

Johanna Konta can also climb the rankings during the grass-court season (Picture: TPN/Getty Images)‘I remember at the end of the week my body was shot. I wasn’t used to playing matches again. I played some pretty good tennis considering it was my first matches back. It feels like yesterday I was there.’
Of course, others will be looking to spoil Barty’s potential No. 1 party, including British No. 1 Johanna Konta.
After a surge to the semi-finals of the French Open, the Briton – who will climb to No. 18 in Monday’s rankings – will now enter the grass-court swing with high hopes.
She has been forced to pull out of Nottingham – an event where she was a beaten finalist in 2018, losing the Barty in a final where she labelled umpire Paula Vieira Souza an ‘absolute joke’ over a disagreement on a line call – but with only 306 points to defend, Konta, a 2017 semi-finalist at the All England Club, will have an opportunity to continue to soar up the rankings.
Fellow Brits Heather Watson, Harriet Dart, Katie Swan, Naiktha Bains and Maia Lumsden are all involved at Nottingham this coming week.
More: Tennis

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