Barty serves up a win?

Ash Barty - power forehand I
Peter Argent

Currently in South Australia, playing both singles and doubles at the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour event, the Adelaide International at Memorial Drive Ash Barty is preparing to write more Australian tennis history.

Our nation has not had a home-grown Australian Open Men’s or Women’s Singles tennis champion since the 1970s.

Barty has the pressure of expectation as the world’s number one women’s player and wants to add an Aussie Open crown to her Wimbledon success last year and her French Open singles title in 2019.

At the event across the Torrens River from the Central Business District in Adelaide this week Barty has been playing her first competitive tennis since the ‘21 US Open.

After winning her opening doubles match with Storm Saunders on Tuesday, she entered centre court on Wednesday evening against 17-year-old American Coco Gauff, looking rusty early.

From a set and a break down, Barty finally prevailed in three – 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 – playing with tenacity and from the mid-point of the second set, the class and power that has taken her to the top of the sport.

“I was able to create opportunities but just was a little bit slack on the execution, rusty in the sense of stringing quality points together,” Barty explained at her post match press conference.

“I felt like I would play two or three good ones (points) and then give away two or three cheapies quite quickly, which comes with match practice.

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“Midway through the second set I was able to find my rhythm a little bit better on serve and just continued to be aggressive on my forehand.”

A noted home body, Barty has previous jumped off the tour and played cricket in 2015-16 with Queensland and in the first edition of the Women’s Big Bash League.

She is also a noted golfer, being the women’s champion at Brookwater Golf Club in Queensland in 2020.

“Obviously playing here in Australia, I love to play as much as I can,” Barty continued.

“It’s home!

“This is where I want to play.

“I’d love to be selfish and play the whole year here.

“Anytime I get a chance to play in Australia, I love to play, I love to enjoy it.”

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Currently 25, Barty first senior Grand Slam success was a Doubles win, partnering CoCo Vandeweghe at the US Open back in 2018.

Ten years before following in Evonne Goolagong footsteps in London last year, she was the Wimbeldon junior women’s singles champion in 2011.

Barty is only the second Australian WTA singles No. 1 player also after fellow Indigenous Australian player Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

Later this month Barty will endeavour to become the Australian women to win our Grand Slam since Christine O’Neil back in 1978.

The last Australian man to win our national “Slam” was Mark Edmondson’s triumph, just over four and a half decades ago at the 1976 Australian Open.

After three consecutive Australian Open Grand Slam final losses from 1971, Goolagong won her first of four titles in 1974.

Footnote: There was two Australian Open Tennis titles in the 1977 calendar year, one in January and a second in December. Goolagong didn’t compete in the first one.

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