WTA Player of the Year: Ashleigh Barty beats Naomi Osaka to top honour

Ashleigh Barty (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Ashleigh Barty (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) /

A superb year for French Open champion Ashleigh Barty has ended with her seeing off some stiff competition to win the WTA Player of the Year award.

Ashleigh Barty has beaten Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep, Bianca Andreescu and Karolina Pliskova to be named as the WTA Player of the Year for 2019.

The Australian collected 82% of the votes cast by members of the international media to convincingly win the award for the first time.

Sealing the honour on Wednesday capped a superb season for Barty which saw her win the French Open and the WTA Finals to finish well clear as the year-end number one.

The 23-year-old also triumphed in two WTA Premier tournaments in Miami and Birmingham over the course of the year, surging up from finishing the previous year ranked at number 15.

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Barty also made a couple of other final appearances in 2019, losing narrowly to Petra Kvitova in Sydney and going down to an October defeat at the hands of Osaka in China.

With six finals and four titles under her belt, WTA Player of the Year Barty therefore carries huge momentum into the 2020 season.

The Australian Open on home soil will undoubtedly be a major goal, though the same players who rivalled her for this award will also be contenders to win the first major of the year.

Barty’s win came two days after her coach Craig Tyzzer had also been recognised.

Wimbledon champion Halep was the winner of last year’s WTA Player of the Year award but likely paid the price for a slow finish to this season.

Both she and Barty have quite some way to go in order to match the great Serena Williams, who has won it on seven occasions, most recently in 2015.

Osaka misses out on the award despite winning the Australian Open at the start of the year and finishing strongly in the Asian swing with her Beijing win over Barty along with a tournament victory at the Pan Pacific Open.

Pliskova was remarkably consistent in reaching a year-end ranking of two, but did not pose enough of a threat at the Grand Slams to tempt voters to decide in her favour.

US Open winner Andreescu, who made a stunning breakthrough in 2019, did not end up empty handed, winning the WTA Newcomer of the Year award despite competition from fellow teenager Coco Gauff.

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Sofia Kenin and Belinda Bencic were victorious in the Most Improved and Comeback Player categories for 2019.