Ashleigh Barty says she won’t put pressure on herself to become No.1 in the world after booking a place in the semi-finals of the Birmingham Classic.
The French Open champion is now two wins away from becoming the top dog in women’s tennis after cruising past five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in the quarter-finals at the Edgbaston Priory Club on Friday local time.
She’ll now face Barbora Strycova on Saturday for a place in Sunday’s final.
Victory over the Czech veteran followed by a win in the decider against Petra Martic or Julia Goerges will see Barty usurp Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka at the top of the rankings.
If she does succeed, it would see her emulate the feat of her idol Evonne Goolagong Cawley – the last Aussie woman to occupy top spot 43 years ago.
“It has happened very quickly,” said Barty.
“I think a goal of mine this year was to crack the top 10 and really get my teeth stuck deep into slams.
“The journey we have been on has been incredible.
“If world No.1 happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It’s certainly not something I’m stressed about.
“If I keep putting myself in the right position and doing the right things, it may come, but if it doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world.”
Barty said she knew she would need to raise her game against one of the modern-day greats of women’s tennis in Williams, and said she is full of confidence after chalking up a 10th straight win.
Defeats wildcard Venus Williams 6-4, 6-3. pic.twitter.com/zHY8vlZ0CE
— WTA (@WTA) June 21, 2019
The 23-year-old, who only returned to tennis three years ago after walking away from the sport to play cricket, is fully aware of what the enormity of the achievement would be.
“It would be incredible, absolutely incredible.” she said.
“But for the time being, I just have to try and think about my preparations and keeping everything exactly the same and doing what I have been doing to get myself to this point.
“It’s been working more times than not. There haven’t been too many matches this year where I have walked off the court disappointed. \
“I think that’s the best thing is, win or lose, I know if I go about it the right way, I can walk off the court with a smile.”
Strycova beat Krystyna Pliskova in her quarter-final and knows she’s in for a tough test against the in-form Queenslander.
“I am surprised she won (her first grand slam) on clay. I thought maybe it would be on grass,” said Strycova.
“But I’m so happy for her, because she’s such a talented player.
“She’s such a young player. She has such a bright future. Good for her.”
Martic saved five match points as she defeated 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko to reach the last four.
Goerges, who will play a doubles semi-final with Barty on Saturday, beat world No.1 Naomi Osaka’s second-round conqueror Yulia Putintseva.