Ashleigh Barty admits she was “a little shaken” by questions about her position as world No.1 earlier this year, and says her “competition” pushed her to maintain her place at the top of the table.
Barty has been in the No.1 ranking since September 2019 and recently became the eighth woman to reach 100-week career at the top.
It was questioned whether she should have been in the job for so long after missing most of the 2020 season due to concerns about travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.
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While Barty was away from the tour, Naomi Osaka won back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the 2020 US Open and 2021 Australian Open.
“Holding the No.1 ranking again to finish 2021 is something I’m incredibly proud of after such a difficult and unusual season,” Barty told CodeSports.
To have spent so much time on the road, to have asked the people I love and admire to support me and make sacrifices, and for us to win is an achievement to be celebrated.
“When I look back on the season, there were four essential phases to maintain the top spot.
“When we got to Miami at the end of March, I felt people wondering if I was the legitimate No.1 given that Naomi Osaka had won several Grand Slam tournaments back to back.
“It was probably the first time that I felt a bit shaken and I really wanted to make a statement on the pitch.
“Getting through this tournament – and playing so well in the end to defend my 2019 crown – was a pivotal moment, especially after overcoming a match point in my first round match against qualifier Kristina Kucova.
“That’s when I realized I really wanted to be No.1. It wasn’t about awards. It was the realization of my determination, the competitive momentum that was burning. I thought, ‘You know what? Someone’s gonna have to be really, really good to take this away from me. ‘”
After winning the Miami Open in March, Barty also landed titles in Stuttgart and Madrid before winning Wimbledon to win the second Grand Slam of his career.
She may have played another major tournament in 2021, but had to withdraw from Roland Garros due to injury.
“I felt in a very good position, but it just went crazy when a few days before the tournament I injured my hip,” said Barty, who later won his fifth trophy of the season at the Western & Southern Open. in summer.
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“It was overwhelming. But I just wanted to do whatever I could to try and be ready for Wimbledon. One way or another, we have succeeded. And after winning Wimbledon I did a quick reassessment and made it to finish # 1 the ultimate goal for the rest of the year.
“I had a tough time after the Olympics because I was so exhausted. We tried to cool off in Tampa, but I remember really struggling when I got to Cincinnati.
“Jo Konta beat me in training. I was distracted and tired. I remember teary eyed during a conversation on the sofa in the hotel lobby with Tyzz (my trainer Craig Tyzzer) but it was an honest and good conversation.
He asked me what I wanted for the rest of the year. And it had to be # 1. It was something our team deserved given the work we had done.
Somehow we got through Cincinnati and managed to win there. I felt then that we had probably done enough. But I was so exhausted. Cincinnati took so much from me. I really had nothing left by the time we got to New York for the US Open.
“It was while we were in quarantine at the hotel at home that we got confirmation that I was almost certain to end the year at No. 1. Quarantine was not particularly easy, but knowing that the # 1 ranking was actually sewn was really a highlight. order a few beers for.
Barty has chosen not to play in the WTA season-ending Finals in Mexico due to potential quarantine issues upon his return to Australia that could disrupt his 2022 preseason preparation.
She is now preparing for the Australian Open in January as she aims to become the first Australian to win the tournament since 1978.
“For me the pain is starting again now. I had a good break and I feel refreshed, ”she added.
“Monday, I enter what is called the locker of the wounded. The preseason is never easy and I’m going to hate the next few weeks. But, at the same time, I also like it because it ignites my competitive instinct. I want to get better and better.
“I know I will feel on top of the world at the end of it and look forward to participating in the Australian summer. Bring it on.”
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