World Number One, Ashleigh Barty wins Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen and a Record Prize Money
Barty has had a stunning tennis season this year. The Australian tennis star made her Top10 debut in March. She won her first premier mandatory title in Miami this year. Her first Grand Slam title in Roland Garros also came through in 2019. Ashleigh Barty became world number one since June and her win against Shiseido WTA finals defending champion (Elina Svitolina) means she will finish the year as No. 1 seed.
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Barty defeated 25-years-old Svitolina 6-4 6-3 to win the season-ending title in Shenzhen and a record prize money $4.42M ever offered in tennis. It was the first time the world number one defeated the Ukrainian defending champion after failing in five attempts.
This makes it her fourth trophy of 2019 and she won it on her debut. Barty is the first Australian to have won the WTA Tour Finals since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.
Ashleigh Barty on winning the title: “It has been a remarkable year. Tonight was about coming out and fighting to the end. I couldn’t be prouder. It has been an incredible year.” She added, “I’m proud of myself and the team, we tried to put ourselves in the biggest situations and occasions and we managed to do that.”
Highlights of Shiseido WTA Finals
The Australian world number one saw of the likes Belinda Bencic (5-7,6-1,6-2), Kiki Bertens (3-6, 6-3,6-4), Petra Kvitova (6-4, 6-2) and Karolina Pliskova (4-6, 6-2, 6-3) to make a final with Elina Svitolina. Svitolina, on the other hand, defeated Karolina Pliskova (7-6(12), 6-4), Simona Halep (7-5, 6-3), Sofia Kenin (7-5, 7-6(10)) and Belinda Bencic (5-7, 6-3, 4-1 Retired) to get to the final. Barty only needed two sets to win against Svitolina (6-4, 6-3) and finish the year in style.
World number three (Naomi Osaka) withdrew from the tournament due to right shoulder injury after winning her first match against Petra Kvitova (7-6(1), 4-6, 6-4). She was replaced in the end-of-season event by Kiki Bertens who later retired her second game due to illness. Naomi Osaka expressed her disappointed on leaving the tournament early. She said: “I’m disappointed to have to withdraw from the finals. It has been a great event in Shenzhen, and it’s the biggest WTA event of the year. This is not how I wanted to end this tournament or my season. I look forward to getting healthy and hope to be back here in Shenzhen next year.”
Another debutant (Bianca Andreescu) retired the match against Karolina Pliskova due to left knee injury after losing the first set (6-3). Bianca said in a press conference: “I fought with the pain as much as I could, but at some point, an athlete has to say stop and just listen to their body. That’s what I did. It’s disappointing because this is the last tournament of the year. You want to go all out. You ‘re playing at one of the biggest tournament of the year, too, it’s not easy.”
Belinda Bencic also retired her semi-final match with cramp in the third set against Svitolina.