Controversy erupts over De Minaur and Barty's joint Newcombe Medal

The decision to name Alex de Minaur and Ash Barty joint Newcombe medallists has been slammed by a number of tennis fans and pundits.

Judges were unable to split the two young guns after both enjoyed stellar seasons, ensuring Australian tennis’s highest individual honour was shared for the first time in the award’s nine-year history.

“It was extremely difficult to make the decision. In the end, we did the only sensible thing; for the first time we have dual medallists,” tennis legend John Newcombe said.

Barty is only the second multiple recipient of the award, joining Samantha Stosur (2010, 2011, 2012), after ending 2018 as Australia’s highest-ranked player at No.15 in the world.

Alex de Minaur and Ashleigh Barty pose with John Newcombe and their medals. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Last year’s Newcombe medallist won the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, another singles title on grass in Nottingham as well as four doubles titles – including her maiden grand slam alongside American Coco Vandeweghe in New York.

“It’s been a truly phenomenal year. It was a massive goal of mine to stay top 20 and a bonus to finish top 15,” Barty told AAP.

“Obviously the elusive top 10 is right there.”

The 22-year-old amassed 46 singles wins for the season, reaching the Sydney final, semi-finals in Strasbourg, Montreal and Wuhan and making a career-best fourth-round run at the US Open in addition to her two title successes.

Joint Newcombe Medal winners Alex de Minaur and Ashleigh Barty. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

On paper, Barty appeared to have a slightly better year than de Minaur, who was named the ATP’s Newcomer of the Year following his meteoric rise from No.208 to a career-high 31st in the rankings in 2018.

The 19-year-old’s breakout season began with runs to the Brisbane semi-finals the Sydney final and a Davis Cup debut against Germany.

He also reached the Washington final before rounding out his year with a runner-up showing at Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

However, a number of fans were left fuming that de Minaur snared the award and Barty missed out on receiving it by herself.

There was also some disdain that if they were going to award joint winners, the other finalists Dylan Alcott and John Millman should have been recognised.

“This is something I definitely did not expect. I’m super proud of my efforts,” de Minaur said.

On track for a first-time grand slam seeding at the Australian Open, de Minaur said achieving “bigger and better things” was his modest goal for 2019.

“It’s just about improving,” he said.

“If you put the work in off court, the work will show on court so it’s all about day by day and enjoying the moment.”

“I feel like the level’s there.

“I’ve been close against the top guys and now it’s time to learn from the mistakes I did against those guys and hopefully I can get over the line in those big matches.”

with AAP