Australia’s Tennis World No. 1’s

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Game, set match – Australia is back on top.

The Ash Barty party has reached a whole ‘nother level, this time with the 23-year-old ranked No. 1 in the world following Sunday night’s straight sets victory over Julia Gorges in the final of the Birmingham Classic.

It’s been a long time between drinks since an Aussie was on top of the tennis world, and with Wimbledon right around the corner,  Barty now joins some pretty important company on the list of green and gold greats.

In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a little refresher on our proud, and often forgotten, tennis history.

John Newcombe

  • Grand Slam Wins: Australian Open (1973, 1975), Wimbledon (1967, 1970, 1971), US Open (1967, 1973)

A natural athlete from the womb to Wimbledon, John Newcombe remains one of Australia’s most accomplished player’s moustaches on the grass.

The elusive career Grand Slam eluded Newcombe as he only ever managed to reach the quarter-finals (twice) at the French Open. He did, however, rank No. 1 in the world following his 1967 win at Wimbledon over Germany’s Wilhelm Bungert – one of his seven Grand Slam singles titles.

Newcombe was also a budding doubles star, winning the Australian Open on five separate occasions as well as the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. In total, the man who once shared a beer with the 43rd President of the United States, won 26 combined Grand Slam titles, burning Rod Laver’s torch brightly to pave the way for future Australian greats.

Pat Rafter

  • Grand Slam Wins: US Open (1997, 1998)

Rafter turned professional in 1991, and just eight years later, was the highest ranked men’s singles player in the world.

On the heels of back-to-back wins at the US Open as well as the Canadian and Cincinnati Masters, Rafter ranked No. 1 in singles competition in July of 1999 – not bad for a boy of humble Mount Isa beginnings.

Things quickly took a turn for the worst as Rafter’s shoulder deteriorated following surgery at age 29. He retired with nothing more than two US Open titles, but his name will be forever etched in the books as the first man to win the Canada Masters, Cincinnati Masters and US Open all in the same year.

Rafter, who became known for his one-time volleys, might best be remembered for his thrilling (and friendly) rivalry against Andre Agassi. The two made magic in the 1997 US Open Semi-Final, and again in the 2001 Australian Open Semi.

Evonne Goolagong Cawley

  • Grand Slam Wins: Australian Open (1974, 1975, 1976, 1977), French Open (1971), Wimbledon (1971, 1980)

Evonne Goolagong Cawley set the bar high in the 1970s, paving the way for women’s tennis, and most importantly, Ash Barty.

The 14-time Grand Slam winner ranked No. 1 in 1976, although a mistake in the WTA’s record system only acknowledged the achievement some 30-years later. It was the same year Cawley won her third Australian and fourth US Open, elevating her to No. 1 status for a brief two-week period.

Cawley did wonders for women’s tennis, but she also remains one of Australia’s most accomplished indigenous athletes. Retiring in 1983, Cawley finished with a 704-165 career record, 82 singles titles and five Grand Slam Doubles victories.

Lleyton Hewitt

  • Grand Slam Wins: US Open (2001), Wimbledon (2002)

The pride of South Australia remains the last Aussie to win a men’s singles Grand Slam title, a drought that dates all the way back to Hewitt’s win at Wimbledon in 2002.

Hewitt reached the pinnacle of men’s tennis shortly after his US Open victory a year earlier, ranking No. 1 in the world ahead of Brazil’s Gustavo Kuerten.

Like so many of his fellow countrymen, the Australian Open always eluded Hewitt as he would go on to lose the 2005 final in four sets to Marat Safin. He went on to win a memorable 282-minute match against Marcos Baghdatis in the 2008 Australian Open three years later.

Age and injuries eventually caught up to the now 38-year-old Hewitt, forcing him to drop from the Top 100 rankings in 2011, and eventually retire in 2016.

Hewitt went on to make a comeback in doubles competition in 2018, teaming up with Sam Groth to make the quarter-final of the Australian Open.

Ash Barty

  • Grand Slam Wins: French Open (2019)

Just a fortnight removed from her stunning two set demolition over Marketa Vondrousova at Roland Garros, Barty is now ranked No. 1 in the world after defeating Julia Gorges in the final of the Birmingham Classic on Monday night.

The win was enough to overtake Japan’s Naomi Osaka, a milestone moment for the 23-year-old Ipswich girl. After claiming her maiden Grand Slam win at the French Open, Barty is now the outright favourite to win at Wimbledon in a week’s time, while you can also have her at $4.00 odds with Ladbrokes to win either Wimbledon or the US Open in 2019.

The sky is the limit for Barty, and it appears Australian women’s tennis is back with a vengeance.

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