Ash Barty with the WTA Finals trophy in Shenzhen, China Ash Barty with the WTA Finals trophy in Shenzhen, China

Barty ends WTA season on top of the world

News

World No.1 Ash Barty will head to the Australian Open in January as the top seed after completing a remarkable season with victory at the WTA Finals on Sunday.

The Aussie beat defending champion Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-3 in Shenzhen, China,  to cap a “crazy year” that also saw her win a first Grand Slam title at the French Open, and rise to the top of the rankings.

Barty won a tour-leading four titles in 2019 and on Sunday landed the biggest winner’s cheque in the history of men's or women's  professional tennis – US$4.42m.

Next week, she will lead Australia in a first Fed Cup final since 1976 when the green and gold take on France in Perth.

"It feels like it's been a year that just hasn't stopped,” Barty told the WTA.

“It's been a year of incredible ups and downs - I think more ups than downs. To cap it off with a very, very special night tonight in Shenzhen is really cool.

“Tonight it felt like it was a lot more clear, a lot more concise from my end. I took my opportunities when I got them.

“[The forehand] was a side that I wanted to try to get into tonight. I think it was also important for me to move forward, then to try to bring Elina in a few times as well, which worked really well.”

Barty is the first Australian woman to reach No.1 and win the season-ending championships since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.

"Just being in the same sentence is a little bit mind-boggling," Barty told AAP.

"We've had some pretty special moments this year and I'd love to reach some of the other accolades as well that Evonne had. She's an incredible human being."

Inspired by Goolagong Cawley "on and off the court" since she was a child, and named last year as an official National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador, Barty is honoured enough to call the seven-times Grand Slam champion a friend let alone to be matching some of her feats in the sport.

I can't wait to get to Perth in the next couple days and then start preparing for what will be the most perfect way to end a season - playing for your country
Ash Barty

"It's amazing that we share a connection in our heritage and culture and now we're kind of growing in our connections in tennis as well," Barty said.

"It's really amazing to be able to share that with her."

The 23-year-old has one more date in her diary for 2019 as she heads straight from China to Western Australia for the Fed Cup final.

"There's one more very important week to cap off what would be the most perfect year," Barty said.

"This Fed Cup final is something I've been looking forward to for a long time.

“I can't wait to get to Perth in the next couple days and then start preparing for what will be the most perfect way to end a season - playing for your country.

"For myself, to play in front of my friends and family, representing Australia, wearing the green and gold, there's absolutely nothing better."