‘There’s nothing better than playing in front of an Australian crowd’ – tennis star Ash Barty wins Newcombe Medal

Ashleigh at the 2018 Newcombe Awards at Crown Palladium in Melbourne.

Tennis star Ashleigh Barty has wind in her sails heading into her first event of the Australian summer, after winning the Newcombe Medal for 2018.

Barty has had an outstanding year in tennis, recording a career best in China in November and heading into the summer in the top 15 athletes in the world.

“It’s been very nice to consolidate my spot in the top 20 this year and to finish in the top 15 is a bonus,” Barty said.

Barty shares the 2018 Newcombe Medal with 19-year-old sensation Alex de Minaur and says she’s chomping at the bit to play at home again.

“It’s the best time of the year when we get the support from the home crowd,” Barty said.

The Newcombe Medal is Australia’s top award, handed to a player who has outstanding performances, achievements and made contributions to Australian tennis.

Barty will open her summer of tennis at the Hopman Cup on December 30 in preparation for the Australian Open in January, shunning her home competition, the Brisbane International.

“I’ve played in Brisbane a few times. I love Perth,” she said.

Barty forms a two-member team with Australian No.4 Matthew Ebden and they’ll come up against the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams in a stacked line-up.

Barty took up the role of Australia’s National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador in April and has since won the Female Sportsperson of the Year award at the Dreamtime Awards, as well as that career best WTA Elite Trophy win in China.

She paid credit to the people around her for such a big 2018.

“First and foremost, it’s spearheaded by my coach, Craig. He’s the most genuine guy you’ll ever meet. He’s made me a better person, not only a better tennis player.”

Barty has not reached the quarter finals in the Australian Open but she says she’s on track to improve on last year’s third-round loss to Naomi Osaka.

“We’re certainly doing all the right things. Now it’s just about executing,” Barty said.

“I love it, I really do. There’s nothing better than playing in front of an Australian crowd.”

By Keiran Deck

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