Barty braves injury amid historic hopes
Ashleigh Barty says she is 'not stressed' about her shoulder injury or her top seed chances ahead of tonight's Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham.
If the Queenslander downs German doubles partner Julia Goerges in the decider, she will become only the second Australian woman in history to hold the world No 1 computer ranking.
Barty caused concern by withdrawing from the doubles semi-finals after dispatching Czech Barbora Strycova 6-4 6-4 in singles.
Barty told officials the withdrawal was precautionary as she again fended off suggestions suffocating pressure will impact her quest.
"I keep it very simple," she said.
"I have to try and do what I can do and that is prepare and do as best that I can tomorrow and try and play a good tennis match and if I win, it's a bonus.
"There are all things that come with it. But those things are certainly not what I'm worried about.
"It is not going to change the way that I sleep at night, if I don't get there or not. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't."
No Australian woman has sat atop the international rankings since Evonne Goolagong - Barty's heroine - spent two weeks at the summit in 1976.
Should Barty advance to the final and lift the title, she will become only the 27th woman in 49 years to hold the No 1 crown.
And she would be top seed at Wimbledon from July 1.
"Let's see what happens tomorrow," Barty grinned post-match.
"I'm excited by the opportunity to come back tomorrow.
"Whatever happens, happens."
But Barty is not losing any sleep over a possible ascension to the top at a tournament where no Australian has ever won.
"If world No 1 happens, it happens," she said.
"If it doesn't, it doesn't. It's certainly not something I'm stressed about.
"If I keep putting myself in the right position and doing the right things, it may come, but if it doesn't, it's not the end of the world."
Barty, 23, returned to tennis from cricket three years ago ranked No 623.
"It would be incredible, absolutely incredible (to reach No 1)," she said.
"It would. But, you know, for the time being, I just have to try and think about my preparations and keeping everything exactly the same and doing what I have been doing to get myself to this point.
"It's been working more times than not. There haven't been too many matches this year where I have walked off the court disappointed.
"I think that's the best thing is, win or lose, I know if I go about it the right way, I can walk off the court with a smile."
Barty is making a habit of drought-breaking success.
In March, she became the first Australian to win the Miami Open.
Two weeks ago, she became the first Australian woman to since Margaret Court in 1973 to win the French Open.
And with title success at Edgbaston, the Ipswich right-hander could become Australia's first world No 1 since Lleyton Hewitt in May 2003.
Goolagong succeeded Chris Evert on April 26, 1976 and held the mantle for two weeks before the American reclaimed it.
If Barty loses the Birmingham final, she will be just two points - 6377 to 6375 - behind Osaka, the narrowest margin separating No 1 and 2 in the history of computer rankings.
Two more wins would propel Barty to 6540 points, a lead of 163 over Osaka, who has held the ranking since winning the Australian Open on January 28.
Barty has not lost since falling to France's Kristina Mladenovic in Rome last month.
Ashleigh Barty, by the numbers
2011 - Ranked 669 while still a junior
2012 - 195
2013 - 164
2014 - 218 and quits tennis for cricket
2015 - No ranking
2016 - 632 after returning from cricket
2017 - 17
2018 - 15
2019 - Currently 2. Could reach 1 tonight.
Australian world No 1s after introduction of computer rankings in 1973.
Evonne Goolagong - April 26, 1976 for two weeks
John Newcombe - June 3, 1973 for eight weeks
Pat Rafter - July 26, 1999 for one week
Lleyton Hewitt - November 19, 20001 for 85 weeks