Ash Barty’s home party in 18-year first

Despite opting to skip two grand slams since the coronavirus lockdown, Australian superstar Ash Barty will retain her No. 1 ranking at the end of the year.

While she enjoyed a beer at the AFL on the weekend, Barty’s rivals were competing for a French Open title in Paris.

The 24-year-old famously claimed her maiden grand slam title at Roland Garros last year, but chose not to take part in this year’s tournament due to health concerns.

Thankfully, the decision will not impact her coveted No. 1 position on the WTA rankings, despite not playing a professional match since February.

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After top-seeded Simona Halep was knocked out in the fourth round by Polish teenager Iga Swiatek on Sunday, it became mathematically impossible for anyone to end the year with more points than Barty.

Ash Barty year end #1.

Barty is about 1500 points ahead of Halep and just under 3000 points ahead of Japanese phenom Naomi Osaka on the WTA rankings.

The Queenslander will become the first Australian to end consecutive years at No. 1 since Lleyton Hewitt achieved the feat in 2001-2002.

Footage of Barty with a beer in hand cheering for Richmond at the Gabba went viral on Friday evening, giving her precious Tigers a fierce fist pump after snaring a late goal against the Brisbane Lions.

World No.1 Ash Barty + a beer + finals footy 👍
🎥 – @7AFL pic.twitter.com/mSX25PYNaA

Halep was considered the favourite to win the 2020 French Open before she was embarrassed by an unseeded prodigy in just 67 minutes, losing in straight sets 6-1 6-2.

“I don’t know what happened. I felt like I was playing perfectly,” Swiatek said after the victory.

“I was so focused the whole match. Even I am surprised that I can do that.”

Swiatek and Halep coincidentally faced each other during last year’s French Open, but the Romanian won 6-1 6-0 on that occasion.

Simona Halep during her fourth round match against Iga Swiatek.Source:Getty Images

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“I realise that it was a fantastic year with all the tough moments that we all had, so I’m not going to ruin the whole year just for a match,” Halep said.

“Of course it’s not easy to take it, but I’m used to some tough moments in this career.

“So I will have a chocolate and I will be better tomorrow.”

Following a series of unexpected results in the fourth round, only four seeded players remain in the women’s singles competition, including this year’s Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin.

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