Ash Barty has had a rapid rise up the world rankings.
Ash Barty has had a rapid rise up the world rankings.

Barty’s amazing year ends in world top 20

ASH Barty will finish her remarkable tennis season ranked No.17 and likely to just miss out on an Australian Open top-16 seeding which would have protected her from the top eight women in its first three rounds.

Barty's semi-final loss in the WTA Elite Trophy in China on Saturday night and German Julia Goerges's win on the same night lifted Goerges to No.16 in live rankings, the spot Barty had held for 72 hours.

Barty, though, is the highest ranked Australian player of either sex, improving an incredible 254 ranking places over the course of the year.

The 21-year-old from Ipswich will be the second youngest woman in the year-end top 20, 13 months older than the French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko, who is ranked seventh.

In her last match of the year, Barty gave up just eight unforced errors in a 6-3, 6-3 loss to a powerful CoCo Vandeweghe in their semi-final in Zhuhai.

Barty will have some time off, including a planned visit to the Gabba to watch the first Ashes Test, before she resumes training for the Brisbane International, from December 31.

A 17th seeding at the Australian would mean the Queenslander could play a top-eight player in the third round at the Australian Open.

Her results in 2017 mean that she will perhaps be the most watched Australian player over the summer circuit other than Nick Kyrgios _ and certainly better performed than him this year.

"It's been an amazing season for me, I'm very happy with it overall," Barty said.

"My goal for the year was be in the top 100 by the end of the year, then it was top 50. "I always love playing at home, so playing in Brisbane will great.''

Vandeweghe, with Australian Pat Cash in her guests' seats as a coach, lost one point on serve in the first set and six for the match.

"You're disappointed not to win a tennis match but you've got to put things in perspective,'' she told reporters in Zhuhai.

"I've always had good support and never felt left out or anything but I've put myself in a position now where I can probably get a little bit more support from home."

Brisbane International entrant Sloane Stephens, the US Open champion, pulled out of her round-robin match on Friday in Zhuhai with a knee injury.

Whether it is a serious injury longer term will be clearer when she fronts up in Belarus for the Fed Cup final to be contested by her United States team.

Rafael Nadal is reported to be on a rehabilitation program for an injured knee in a bid to play the ATP World Tour Finals in London, which starts next Sunday.

Scans taken since the world No.1 said on Friday that he would not play again this year showed no new damage to a long-standing knee tendon injury, a Spanish newspaper reported.

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