Ash Barty will crown her magical year on Friday night with an unprecedented fourth consecutive Newcombe Medal.
Denied last year after the awards were abandoned because of COVID-19, Barty will claim another slice of tennis history after adding the Wimbledon trophy plus four more titles during a stunning 2021 campaign.
The 25-year-old’s effort to secure a second grand slam title in July came after Barty sat out all but two months of the 2020 season.
Despite 11 months out of the game, the 2019 French Open champion made a triumphant comeback in her first event back in January at Melbourne Park before reaching the Australian Open quarter-finals, then embarking on a successful seven-month global tour.
The world No.1 collected trophies on hard, clay and grass courts in Miami, Stuttgart, London and Cincinnati to retain her year-end No.1 ranking without even needing to contest last month’s relocated and rescheduled WTA Finals in Mexico.
Barty joined tennis legends Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, Chris Evert, Martina Hingis, Monica Seles and Justine Henin as only the eighth woman to finish year-end No.1 for three straight seasons.
The Queenslander is a lay down misere to eclipse Samantha Stosur’s Newcombe Medal hat-trick from 2010 to 2012.
Stosur is among the three other finalists for the award after capturing her fourth grand slam women’s doubles crown at the US Open with China’s Zhang Shuai.
Stosur’s victory came on the 10th anniversary of her 2011 US Open singles final triumph over Williams in New York.
Wheelchair wizard Dylan Alcott and doubles champion John Peers are the other two shortlisted.
Peers teamed with Barty to win the Olympic mixed doubles bronze medal in Tokyo, while Alcott is the sentimental favourite to snare a second Newcombe Medal.
The 2016 medallist clinched a memorable golden slam in 2021 with Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, Olympics and US Open glory in the quad singles.
But there can be no denying the recently-engaged Barty more spoils as “the most outstanding achiever in Australian tennis” this year.
Barty’s trusted mentor Craig Tyzzer is the overwhelming favourite for coach of the year.
The global pandemic has reduced Australian tennis’s night of nights to a remote online ceremony.
There’ll still be some glitz and glamour, though, with Tennis Rockhampton staging a black-tie dinner as not only the country’s biggest stars are recognised.
Thirteen awards in total will be announced.
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