Ashleigh Barty hits a return against Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova during their Australian Open quarter-finals. The Australian has climbed to a career-high No. 14 ranking. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Australian No. 1 Ashleigh Barty is expected to be a strong contender for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships trophy when play gets under way on February 17.

The 22-year-old stands a modest 1.66 metres (5’ 5”) but is proof that you don’t have to be a giant to succeed in the game as she has long stood tall in both singles and doubles.

She climbed to a new career high of 14 after the Australian Open, following victory over then world No. 1 Simona Halep on the way to her second successive Sydney final, which was followed by a win over Maria Sharapova in Melbourne that earned her a place in the quarter-finals of her home Grand Slam. On both occasions, it took the spectacular talents of Petra Kvitova to end her run.

She has also enjoyed outstanding success in doubles, rising to No. 5 in the world, contesting all four Grand Slam finals and winning the US Open in 2018.

But she is not only the top-ranked Australian woman in both singles and doubles. At the end of last season she received the prestigious Newcombe Medal, the highest honour in Australian tennis, for the second consecutive year, and she is the National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador for Tennis Australia with a goal to promote more indigenous participation in the sport.

“I’m driven to win every single match,” said Barty. “I mean, obviously once you get a taste of it you’re always hungry for more. I’ve always been extremely driven and passionate, especially coming back this second time around, about how I’ve wanted to go about things. I think more importantly I’ve begun to understand better off the court how I can enjoy it more and enjoy the process, trust the process, get the results that we’re after. I finished the season of 2018 with a title (she won Zhuhai to end her year as well as Nottingham earlier in the season). I’ve had my best start to 2019. Certainly no complaints from here.”

“Ashleigh Barty is an exceptional athlete who excelled at cricket during her time away from tennis,” said Colm McLoughlin, executive vice-chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “We are delighted that she made the decision to resume her tennis career and that she is making such a positive impact on the game. It will be very interesting to see how well she does against such challenging opposition here.”

Tournament Director Salah Tahlak added, “This is the first time that Barty is competing here at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. She has proved to be an excellent competitor though for a number of years and she is clearly going from strength to strength. Her recent success in Australia has demonstrated that she is capable of beating even the very best and no opponent will be taking her lightly.”

Barty faces formidable opposition which includes an incredible nine of the world’s top 10, led by reigning US and Australian Open champion and world No. 1 Naomi Osaka. Among others competing are two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, 2018 Australian Open winner Caroline Wozniacki, French Open champion Simona Halep, treble Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber, two-time Dubai champion Elina Svitolina, 2019 Brisbane winner and Australian Open semi-finalist Karolina Pliskova and former Grand Slam champions Garbine Muguruza and Jelena Ostapenko.

Tickets are available online at www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com and from the Stadium Box Office. For further information about the tournament, please visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.