AFTER four wins over top-10 players to barge to a top-20 ranking, 2017 Newcombe Medallist Ash Barty will be back next year to shake the women’s tennis elite again.
Barty was presented with the most prestigious individual award in Australian tennis last night in Melbourne after making an unbeatable case by improving her ranking from No. 271 to No. 17 during her first full year of tour tennis since her break from the sport.
The Ipswich right-hander appears to harbour few nerves about needing to back up her skyrocketing year, reasoning that at 21 she still has time to learn on the tour.
Of Australia’s top-50 singles players at the start of the year, Sam Stosur (from No. 22 to No. 41), Bernard Tomic (No. 141) and Nick Kyrgios (13th to No. 21) dropped in the rankings, while Daria Gavrilova’s is unchanged at No. 25.
“It’s been an amazing season for me, I’m very happy with it overall,” Barty said.
“My goal for the year was be in the top 100 by the end of the year. Then it was top 50.
“We enjoyed our short break (of three weeks) and now we get stuck back into it,’’ Barty said.
“It’s an important year for me to consolidate as best I can and just approach every match as I did this year. It’s a different sort of pressure.
“In the next week while we transition back to work on court, we’ll work out what we want to aim for in 2018.’’
Triple Wimbledon champion John Newcombe said before the presentation of the award named after him that Barty could break into the top 10 next year and be a future Grand Slam singles winner.
Barty’s coach Craig Tyzzer was named high performance coach of the year at the Tennis Australia function.
Barty attended the function with boyfriend Garry Kissick and parents Robert and Josie.
Kissick, a Queenslander, is a keen golfer who says on social media that he works as an irrigation technician at Brookwater Golf and Country Club.
“I brought my boyfriend with me and it’s nice for him to be in the tennis scene — he hasn’t had much of a taste of it and he’s a golfer,’’ Barty said.
“Hopefully he enjoys the night too. We get to reflect what on the year has been for Australian tennis.’’
Meanwhile, John Millman rose to fourth-ranked Australian — and the top Queenslander — by winning Sunday’s Vietnam Challenger final.
Millman’s gritty return from an abdominal injury in April gathered further steam when his 6-2, 6-2 win over Victorian Andrew Whittington lifted him 37 places to No. 128.