New No. 1 Barty eyes match against Osaka in WTA Fi­nals

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

SHEN­ZHEN, China (AFP) — Ash­leigh Barty has vowed to main­tain fo­cus at the sea­son-end­ing WTA Fi­nals after se­cur­ing the year-end No.1 rank­ing on Sun­day.

The French Open cham­pion’s 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 vic­tory over Belinda Ben­cic saw her be­come Aus­tralia’s first year-end No.1 since Lley­ton He­witt in 2002.

Barty, who started the year ranked 15, has had a me­te­oric rise and won a tour-top­ping 53 matches this sea­son. “It’s been an in­cred­i­ble year,” Barty told re­porters. “I think it’s a bit of a bonus to be able to fin­ish year-end world No. 1. It cer­tainly wasn’t some­thing that was in my realm at the start of the year.”

The 23-year-old said her eye was still on the main prize at the $14 mil­lion round-robin tour­na­ment.

“I think first and fore­most, we’d love to fin­ish off the week here re­ally strongly, then we can worry about cel­e­brat­ing that lit­tle thing (No.1 rank­ing),” Barty said. “I think it’s a bonus now know­ing I’ve started well. But it doesn’t change my prepa­ra­tion for Tues­day’s match in any re­gard.”

Barty’s next match will be a Red Group block­buster against world No.3 Naomi Osaka, who de­feated Pe­tra Kvi­tova 7-6 (7/1), 4-6, 6-4 in a marathon en­counter to thrillingl­y open the WTA Fi­nals.

It is a chance for Barty to ex­act re­venge on the Japanese sen­sa­tion who won a three-set fi­nal in Bei­jing ear­lier this month.

In-form Osaka has won 11 straight matches after ti­tles in Bei­jing and Osaka.

“It’s re­fresh­ing know­ing that I get to play her now hav­ing just played her a few weeks ago in Bei­jing,” Barty said.

“I learnt a lot from the match in Bei­jing. I’ll try to take as much as I can into the match come Tues­day.”

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