Melbourne VIC, Australia, 22 December 2016 | Matt Trollope

The No.1 Australian ranking is a position Sam Stosur has become accustomed to holding.

The 32-year-old, who first become Australia’s top female player in early 2006, reclaimed the top ranking from Casey Dellacqua in October 2008 and has held onto it ever since.

That’s an uninterrupted run of more than eight years in top spot – an incredible achievement.

Dellacqua came close to snatching it back in September 2014, when she rose to a career high No.26 after reaching the third round in Wuhan and Stosur fell to No.21 that same week.

And in early 2016, Daria Gavrilova’s run to the fourth round at the Australian Open pushed her up to 33rd, just six spots behind Stosur in 27th.

Nevertheless, Stosur was able to maintain her position at the top of the tree.

Now, Gavrilova is once again snapping at her heels.

“I actually saw that recently because I checked my ranking to see where I’d finished for the year and I noticed that Dasha wasn’t too far behind,” Stosur laughed.

“I’ve certainly got my work cut out for me to try and keep that position that I’ve held for a little while. So that’d be good if I can keep going with that.

“But Dasha is a very good player and she has a really good end to the year. She’s got a lot of upside, so she’s going to be around for a long time to come.”

As Stosur noted, Gavrilova closed the 2016 season with a flourish. The Russian-born Aussie advanced to the China Open quarterfinals and the Hong Kong Open semifinals – where she beat world No.1 Angelique Kerber along the way – before advancing to the first WTA final of her career in Moscow.

That run, during which she won 10 of her last 13 matches, propelled her to a year-end ranking of No.25 -just four spots below Stosur.

“It would be pretty cool to overtake her – I’m not gonna lie,” Gavrilova smiled.

“I think tennis is a competitive sports and everyone wants to be No.1.”