Venus Williams Stands Between Ashleigh Barty and No. 1 Ranking
(June 20, 2019) Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams will be hoping to stop Ashleigh Barty from reaching the World No.1 ranking when they face each other in Friday’s quarterfinals of the Nature Valley Classic, an LTA summer grass court event.
Barty won her first major singles title less than two weeks ago at the French Open. The Aussie beat Jennifer Brady 6-3, 6-1. The defeat of World No.1 Naomi Osaka at the hands of Yulia Putintseva, also on Thursday, means that Barty could claim top spot in the world rankings for the first time in her career if she keeps winning in Birmingham and ends up lifting the Maud Watson Trophy on Sunday.
“The stars have aligned a little bit for me, and I think when you get those opportunities you have to do your best to take them with both hands,” said Barty. “That’s what we have been able to do over the last month in particular, but, yeah, I mean, I feel like I’m comfortable in my own skin. I feel like I know exactly how I want to play in most matches, and it’s just about going out there trying to execute as best I can.”
Williams, the winner of seven major singles titles in total, is bidding to win the 50th WTA Tour title of her career in Birmingham. The 39-year-old American was much too strong for Qiang Wang in their second round match on Thursday.
“I think the focus today was really there. That was great. My opponent she also played well and it was nice to have answers to her play,” said Williams. “Ash’s playing well on the grass too. It’s not easy to get to these quarter-finals. No match is easy. I’ll have to have a feel for it tomorrow and see what works.”
Also in quarterfinal action on Friday will be the all-Czech battle between qualifier Kristyna Pliskova (whose victims this week include her much higher ranked twin sister Karolina) and Barbora Strycova. Petra Martic and Johanna Konta’s conqueror Jelena Ostapenko face each other for a place in the semi-finals; while Julia Goerges and Putintseva will round off what promises to be another day of high quality tennis on the Ann Jones Centre Court.
NATURE VALLEY CLASSIC – BIRMINGHAM – BIRMINGHAM, GBR
JUNE 17 – 23, 2019
RESULTS – JUNE 20, 2019
Singles – Second Round
Y. Putintseva (KAZ) d  N. Osaka (JPN) 62 63
 A. Barty (AUS) d J. Brady (USA) 63 61
[WC] V. Williams (USA) d  Q. Wang (CHN) 63 62
 J. Goerges (GER) d E. Rodina (RUS) 64 63
Doubles – Quarterfinals
 S. Hsieh (TPE) / B. Strycova (CZE) d R. Atawo (USA) / L. Kichenok (UKR) 41 Retired
J. Ostapenko (LAT) / G. Voskoboeva (KAZ) d  N. Melichar (USA) / K. Peschke (CZE) 63 64
ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 2019
ANN JONES CENTRE COURT start 11:30 am
B. Strycova (CZE) vs [Q] Kr. Pliskova (CZE)
P. Martic (CRO) vs J. Ostapenko (LAT)
[WC] V. Williams (USA) vs  A. Barty (AUS)
Y. Putintseva (KAZ) vs  J. Goerges (GER)
COURT 1 start 3:00 pm
 A. Groenefeld (GER) / D. Schuurs (NED) vs N. Kichenok (UKR) / A. Spears (USA)