Barty Addresses Osaka Issue Over 'World No. 1' Ranking

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Australian world number one Ashleigh Barty will not play the WTA Finals
Australian world number one Ashleigh Barty will not play the WTA Finals

Ashleigh Barty managed to stay unfazed by the negativity surrounding her return as the world's No. 1.

Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka has had quite a remarkable run, having won won back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the 2020 US Open and 2021 Australian Open.

However, she still ended up trailing behind Barty in the world rankings due to her consistent series of performances.

The new WTA protected ranking system saw Barty keeping her position as No.1. However, many are not convinced that she shouldn’t be at the top spot as Osaka’s run was more deserving of the feat.

Revealing her thoughts on the subject, Barty confessed that despite believing that she’s worked hard for it, the buzz about Osaka being “the rightful No.1” somehow affected her at one point.

“Holding the No. 1 ranking again to finish 2021 is something I am incredibly proud of after such a challenging and unusual season,” the 25-year-old told Code Sports . “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 prevail is an achievement to celebrate.”

“When I look back at the season, there were four phases critical to holding on to the top ranking,” she continued. “I felt people were questioning whether I was the rightful No. 1 given Naomi Osaka had won a couple of Grand Slams in succession. It was probably the first time I felt a little rattled and I really wanted to make a statement on the court.”


Defending champion Naomi Osaka of Japan will play Wednesday's first match on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Open
Defending champion Naomi Osaka of Japan will play Wednesday's first match on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Open
Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Sarah Stier

Further attesting her return to the top spot, Barty shared that prior to Osaka’s streak, she had a “realization” that what lies ahead was something hers for taking.

“Getting through that tournament – and playing so well at the end of it to defend my crown from 2019 – felt like a pivotal moment, particularly after overcoming a match point in my first-round match against qualifier Kristina Kucova,” the Aussie recalled.

“It was then that I realized I truly wanted to be the No 1.,” she added. “It was not about the accolades. It was the realization of my determination, the competitive drive that was burning. I thought, ‘You know what? Someone is going to have to be really, really good to take this off me.”

Barty appears to have moved on from the Osaka comparisons. In fact, she is looking forward for another big year in the 2022 season.

Should everything go well for her in the upcoming Australian Open, Barty could be the first player from the country to win the prestigious tournament since 1978.


I didn't want to leave," US player Shelby Rogers says after beating Australia's Ashleigh Barty
"I didn't want to leave," US player Shelby Rogers says after beating Australia's Ashleigh Barty
Photo: AFP / Ed JONES

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