Ashleigh Barty says being world No 1 is not the be all and end all for her as a tennis player, as she looks to defend her position at the top of the rankings in Miami this week.
Barty has been world No 1 since September 2019, a run of 62 consecutive weeks, but could be overtaken by Naomi Osaka after the Miami Open.
The Australian will retain top spot if she reaches the final, and she is just one win away after an impressive three-set victory over seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka.
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Reflecting on her position at the top of the women’s game, Barty said: "It's an amazing thing to be No 1 in the world at the moment, but I promise you that's not what makes me happy.
Whether I'm No 1 or No 10 or I'm anything in between or whatever number it is, that number for me doesn't determine if I'm a happy person or a happy tennis player.
"I come out here and I just work hard. I try and do the best that I can. I know that if I do that I sleep well at night and the sun comes up tomorrow."
Barty came through 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3 against Sabalenka in two hours and 16 minutes.
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One of the keys to the match was Barty saving all seven break points she faced, while breaking once in the first set and once in the third.
"I think we both had very few break points," Barty said. "I think there were probably a couple of games, particularly in that first set, I was down 0-40 in one of them and even a couple of games 15-30s, 30-30 points. At big points I felt I was able to produce some of my better stuff.
"That's what we are after. That's what you're always trying to do. But on the other hand, as well, I felt like Aryna did that exceptionally well today. We were both able to serve our way out of trouble at times. To be able to just get a couple of breaks, that was all that the match kind of needed, really."
Barty, who next faces fifth seed Elina Svitolina, is the defending champion in Miami after winning the tournament when it was last held in 2019.
She says she feels at home in the conditions and likes how the courts are “responsive to spin”.
"Everywhere in the world there are different conditions and at times it suits you more than other places," Barty said.
"I feel like these are very familiar conditions for me. With the heat and humidity, it’s very similar to Brisbane where I grew up and what I was born and bred and trained in my whole life.
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"I enjoy these courts. I enjoy the balls and how they are responsive to spin. A lot of different elements."
Barty has lost five of her six meetings against Svitolina but won the last time they met in the final of the ATP Finals in 2019.
"Obviously against Svitolina we have had some exceptional battles in big tournaments," she said. "I think that test will be no different, another big match.
"She's figured her way out through this draw very well. If I do play her, it's another battle. I have to bring my very best to beat her.”
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