Ashleigh Barty is not only women’s tennis’ top-ranked player but also the tour’s richest performer in 2019 after crashing through the $10 million prize money barrier for the season.
Barty’s one-from-two record so far at the obscenely lucrative WTA Finals has taken her on-court earnings for the year to an eye-watering $10.93 million.
The unprecedented windfall for an Australian player in a single season has more than doubled her entire career earnings.
And there could be much more to come if she beats Petra Kvitova on Thursday night to qualify for the semi-finals.
Barty is guaranteed at least $1.45 million for the week if she makes the last four in Shenzhen – and could land a $5.98 million pot of gold with victory in Sunday’s final.
But even if she loses and misses the semi-finals, the 23-year-old will leave China $890,000 better off.
Thanks for coming.
The true beauty of it all for Barty, not that money’s the motivation, is that her finals fate remains very much in her own hands.
While there are endless permutations as all four players in Barty’s pool remain in title contention heading into Thursday’s final round-robin matches, the equation is simple for Australia’s world No.1.
Take down Kvitova and she’ll top the Red Group and advance to Saturday’s semi-finals.
If she loses, Barty could still sneak into the semis if she takes a set from Kvitova and Kiki Bertens defeats Belinda Bencic in three sets.
Such a scenario would require a complicated countback involving games won and lost by each of the competitors.
But the best bet for Barty is to beat Kvitova, as she has done in their past two meetings this year, most recently this month in Beijing.
Kvitova had previously had the measure of Barty.
The dual Wimbledon champion edged her in a thrilling three-set final in Sydney this year before toppling her for the fourth straight time in the Australian Open quarter-finals in January.
“I’ve played Petra a number of times this year. Each match has been exceptionally tough. We’ve kind of split them a little bit,” Barty said.
“Conditions are different here. Changes things a little bit.
“We’ll figure out a way we’ll nullify her strengths and get it back to my patterns as much as we can.”
If she progresses, Barty will play either titleholder Elina Svitolina, Wimbledon champion Simona Halep or Karolina Pliskova for a spot in the final.
© AAP 2019