Tennis

Ash Barty’s star shines brightly at WTA Finals

Barty started the year 15th but rocketed up the rankings after making a maiden grand slam quarterfinal on home soil, winning the Miami Open and earning a first major at the French Open.Following a title on her favorite surface of grass in Birmingham, England in June, Barty became the first Australian woman to top the rankings since her mentor, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, in 1976.Barty later relinquished the No. 1 spot but got it back in September and even before Thursday's action in Shenzhen, China knew she would end the season there. That all looked unlikely when she stepped away from the game in 2014 and turned to cricket, prior to returning in 2016. Already awarded the prestigious "Don" Award in Australia earlier in October — named after cricket great Don Bradman and given to the country's top sportsperson — Barty figures, too, to claim a third straight Newcombe Medal as Australia's best tennis player. By that time, Barty might have led Australia to a first Fed Cup team title since 1974, given that the Aussies host France in the final in Perth next month. For the time being the 23-year-old ensured a continuation of her stint in China by beating the dual Wimbledon champion 6-4 6-2 in the pair's fifth meeting of 2019. Kvitova won the first two — including in Melbourne in January — but Barty has grabbed the last three. At 0-2, Kvitova needed a victory to have any chance of progressing from the Red Group at the WTA Finals while Barty was assured of going through with a win. Losing tight first sets proved to be Kvitova's undoing against Naomi Osaka and Belinda Bencic — who progressed later Thursday as the runner-up in the group after alternate Kiki Bertens retired — and a close first set went against the Czech once again. Kvitova appeared to lose steam when, trailing 3-2 in the first, she couldn't capitalize on three break points to get back on serve. Barty raced to a 4-0 advantage in the much more routine second set. Unfortunately for Kvitova, she was never able to regain top form after suffering a forearm injury during the clay-court swing. Kvitova began 2019 by making the Australian Open final, her first grand slam final since a knife attack in her home in 2016 almost ended her career — and life.

Another retirement

The end of season finale for the women has been beset by injuries.Osaka played one match before withdrawing due to a shoulder injury, Bencic was treated for a foot injury against Barty on Sunday, US Open winner Bianca Andreescu pRead More – Source