NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 30: Ashleigh Barty of Australia returns a shot against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus during their second round Women's Singles match on Day Three of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 30, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

There is no doubt in Ashleigh Barty's mind that she is fully deserving of her position at the top of the world rankings. Questions have been raised over her place at the top of the standings, but the Australian star is adamant she has earned her number one ranking.

Barty Stands up to Miami Heat

Barty demonstrated that she is one of the best in the business after defending her first title to retain the Miami Open crown at the start of April. The 24-year-old had a lengthy spell away from competitions but had enough to win the Florida tournament. After a victory against the injured Bianca Andreescu in the final, Barty is now 10/1 with bet365 in the latest tennis odds to win the next Grand Slam of the year at the French Open. Backers will be hoping that her win in Miami will be a springboard for better things to come in 2021.

Despite the success in Florida, there have been those to question Barty's place at the top of the rankings. This is due to a prolonged period of time on the sidelines, which has seen her points in the current system carried over from 2019. It was that year the Aussie managed to win her one and only Grand Slam event at the French Open.

Knowing the hard work she has put in behind the scenes to stay fit and match sharp, Barty is sure to be feeling more than comfortable with her position in the rankings. After her win in the final over Bianca Andreescu, Barty said “I never have to prove anything to anyone”. All the chasing pack will be looking to knock the world number one off her perch, but that could take some doing this year.

Barty Handed Ideal Motivation

Barty could now look to take on a siege mentality for the rest of the campaign, as she looks to add to her Grand Slam tally. While many question why she is still at the top of the ranking after a year out, Barty is likely to use the criticism as motivation to prove why she is where she is.

The French Open will be the next test to see how the Queenslander rates against the other biggest names in the women's game. The success she enjoyed at Roland Garros back in 2019 will give her confidence she can go back to Paris and repeat the feat. It certainly won't be easy, with the women's Grand Slam events proving to be wide-open competitions with a host of different winners, but Barty seems set to hold her own. 

Osaka a Major Threat

One player who is likely to be there or thereabouts come the business end of the French Open is Naomi Osaka. The Japanese star has already hit the ground running in 2021 by claiming the first major of the year at the Australian Open. Barty managed to reach the quarter-finals of her home Grand Slam before crashing out and will know Osaka poses a serious threat in the remaining majors.

It looks set to be another intriguing season in the women's game, and Barty will be going all out to keep Osaka and her other rivals at bay.