Barty wins third straight Newcombe Medal

  • Matt Trollope

World No.1 Ash Barty has earned another prestigious accolade, winning the Newcombe Medal – Australian tennis’ highest honour – on Monday evening in Melbourne.

The reigning French Open champion took home the medal for the third straight year after being deemed Australia’s most outstanding elite tennis player and ambassador for the sport.

“I’m incredibly grateful and very humbled to be here tonight,” Barty said after accepting the medal from Australian tennis legend John Newcombe.

“I’m extremely fortunate to have such an amazing support network around me. It’s very special for me tonight to have mum, dad and my very first coach in Jim (Joyce) here. They gave me the unconditional love and support time and time again — in all the bad times and all the good times, they’re always there.

“There were a few words they said to me: ‘I love to watch you play.' And when your mum and dad say that to you, when your coach says that to you, that makes your heart race a little bit.

“Honestly, it’s been incredible. I’m very grateful that they’re here to share it with me as well.”

Barty won over fellow nominees Dylan Alcott, Alex de Minaur, John Millman and Ajla Tomljanovic.

She became the first player to win a hat-trick of Newcombe Medals since Sam Stosur did so from 2010 to 2012.

Stosur, meanwhile, was recognised on Monday night with the Spirit of Tennis Award, honouring her professionalism, dedication and sportsmanship as well as the positive impact she has had on tennis in Australia.

The highlight of Stosur’s season came at Australian Open 2019 when she won the doubles title with Zhang Shuai – 13 years after last claiming a major title in women’s doubles.

Australian Open 2019 was also the site of one of Barty’s season highlights, with the 23-year-old becoming the first local woman in a decade to advance to the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park.

“There was a moment in her fourth-round win over (Maria) Sharapova when, had it been two years earlier, a similar match might have gotten away from her,” said 22-time Grand Slam doubles champion Todd Woodbridge.

“It got tight in that third set – Sharapova came back at her with some great play, and Barty had to absorb it and find another gear. And she did.

“That match, if you were to isolate one from the summer, was an indicator of somebody who has gone to another level. And it’s also an indicator of what’s to come.”

That breakthrough summer performance – Barty’s first appearance in the last eight at a major tournament – indeed paved the way for more success.

In March, she won the biggest title of her career at the Miami Open to crack the top 10, and then two months later rose to even greater heights with her triumph at Roland Garros.

She was Australia’s first Grand Slam singles champion since Stosur in 2011 and first in Paris since Margaret Court in 1973.

Two weeks later, on the grass courts of Birmingham, Barty won the title and rose to world No.1.

It was a position she would retain for much of the remainder of the season, which she capped with victory at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen – a triumph earning her the biggest prize money cheque in the history of professional tennis.

Barty also spearheaded Australia’s Fed Cup team, which advanced to its first final since 1993.

She will enter Australian Open 2020 as the first home-grown top seed since Lleyton Hewitt in 2003, and first Australian female to hold the position since Evonne Goolgong in 1977.