Ashleigh Barty returns a shot to Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in their semi-final match at the WTA Wuhan Open
Ashleigh Barty returns a shot to Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in their semi-final match at the WTA Wuhan Open Tang maika

Ashleigh Barty on the road to tennis riches

A top-20 ranking, the largest payday of her career and almost certain victory in the John Newcombe medal are on the line for Ash Barty tonight.

The Queenslander's remarkable season already has seen her vault from No 325 in the world to a provisional career-best mark of No 23.

And if the former cricketer adds France's Caroline Garcia to a star-studded band of Wuhan Open victims tonight, she will have constructed one of the most phenomenal comeback seasons in history.

When Barty walked away from tennis in 2014, returning initially in doubles last year, the former Wimbledon junior champion nursed modest dreams of re-establishing herself.

But in the space of three months, she has toppled three grand slam champions - Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza and Jelena Ostapenko - to rocket up the rankings.

 

Ashleigh Barty on her way to beating Jelena Ostapenko.
Ashleigh Barty on her way to beating Jelena Ostapenko. Tang maika

With singles and doubles titles in Kuala Lumpar, defeat in the Birmingham decider to dual Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova and this week's stunning advance to the championship match, Barty is a clearcut favourite to win the Newcombe medal as the nation's best performer.

Barty this week has nailed three top-10 players - Ostapenko, former world No 1 Karolina Pliskova and Johanna Konta - as well as former All England Club finalist Agnieszka Radwanska.

Should Barty wins tonight, she will pocket about $620,000 and crack the top-20.

"I feel like, both finals I've played this year I've played really well," she said.

"In Birmingham, I probably couldn't have done too much more. Petra played an amazing match. I think it was really good quality from both of us.

"It's just exciting that I get another opportunity to take home a title. And if not, it's still a bloody good week.

"I think we can just really enjoy the fact this week we've been able to string some really good matches together. It really has been a phenomenal year.

"For me, I don't know if I thought it was all possible, but it's certainly nice to be reaping the rewards.

"I think every match is the same for me. It doesn't matter whether it's the first round at Wimbledon or the final here.

"I think for me I try and approach the match the exact same way."

News Corp Australia


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