Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 July 2019

French Open champion Ashleigh Barty targets world No 1 spot after winning first grand slam

Barty will rise to No 2 when ATP rankings are released Monday, within strike distance of world No 1 Naomi Osaka

Austrlia's Ashleigh Barty poses with the French Open trophy. She defeated Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in Saturday's women's final at Roland Garros. EPA
Austrlia's Ashleigh Barty poses with the French Open trophy. She defeated Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in Saturday's women's final at Roland Garros. EPA

With her first grand slam secured after winning Saturday's women's French Open final, Ashleigh Barty has set out her next target of becoming world No 1.

The Australia's dominant 6-1, 6-3 final victory over Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova at Rolan Garros saw her become the first player from her country to win in Paris since Margaret Court in 1973.

Her victory in the French capital will see Barty, 23, rise to No 2 in the WTA rankings when they are released on Monday, within striking distance of Naomi Osaka, who holds only narrow lead at the summit.

Barty has the Japanese star in her sights.

"Obviously, that's the next point, the next goal, the next situation I can see myself in," she said.

"Being No 2 in the world is incredible and something I never dreamt of as a child and we'll keep chipping away and try our best to get to No 1."

Barty, who took a break from tennis in 2014 to pursue a career in professional cricket, said she "certainly" did not think her maiden major would come on the red clay of Roland Garros.

"Certainly not here, that's for sure. It's just been an amazing journey that we've had over the last few years," Barty said.

"I just tried to tell myself on the court that I may never get this opportunity again, so enjoy it, try and grab it with both hands and go out there and smile.

"It's new territory for me going deep into slams, that was the goal. One of our goals is to continue to do that."

Barty played for the Brisbane Heat cricket team in the Women's Big Bash League four years ago, playing nine matches with a top score of 39.

She started her comeback in tennis with a surprising run to the semi-finals at Eastbourne in 2016 but said even then securing a grand slam triumph was just a far-flung dream.

"I remember at the end of that week, my body was shot. It wasn't used to playing matches again. It was incredible," Barty said of exploits at Eastbourne, warm-up event that precedes Wimbledon, the third grand slam that begins in England on July 1.

"To know that it was three years ago - it feels like only yesterday that we were there and in the same breath it also feels like it was a lifetime ago."

Barty does not think she could have seen such an upturn in her fortunes without taking a hiatus.

"Absolutely not. I don't even know if I'd be sitting here talking to you if I was playing tennis [and] if I didn't step away," Barty said.

"It's obviously a part of my life that I needed to deal with, and I feel like it was the best decision that I made at the time, and it was an even better one coming back."

Updated: June 9, 2019 04:38 PM

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