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Reflective Barty finds silver lining

  • Matt Trollope

In the space of just two days, Ash Barty experienced the electrifying highs of beating five-time champion Maria Sharapova at Rod Laver Arena to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, and the feeling of coming back down to earth after being resoundingly beaten on that same court.

Barty’s breakout Australian Open came to an abrupt end at the hands of Petra Kvitova on Tuesday night, with the Australian outplayed in a 68-minute, 6-1 6-4 loss.

MORE: Kvitova bursts Barty’s bubble

There were, naturally, mixed feelings for the host nation’s top player.

“(I’m) disappointed purely from having competed my whole life. I'm driven to win every single match,” Barty admitted.

“Today Petra was outstanding, she really was. I don't think it was a slow start (from me). It was more of a Petra start. She took the match away from me. It was very much out of my control.

“I know that I did everything possible to try and get myself back into that match. But she was too good tonight.”

Barty was extremely complimentary towards her conqueror.

It almost seemed if she was going to lose to anybody, she would rather it be the likeable Czech, a two-time Wimbledon champion who is back in the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time after being seriously injured in a knife attack in 2016.

“She's an amazing human being. I think she's beginning to play her best tennis again,” Barty said.

“We all know what Petra can do. She's a Grand Slam champion. She's proved she can beat the best, be very close to the best. But most importantly, I think from all of the girls in the locker room, it's amazing just to see her back out here.

“It wasn't the same when she wasn't here.”

Able to depart knowing she gave her very best in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, Barty can now sit back and reflect on what has been an incredible month of tennis. Maybe even with a beer, as she hinted at in her post-match press conference.

Having closed the 2018 season with a title at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, Barty embarked on January’s summer of tennis as a freshly-minted top-15 player, and simply kept winning.

She was victorious in 10 of her 13 matches this month across three events, going 2-1 in round-robin play at the Hopman Cup followed by a trip to the final at the Sydney International.

Then there was her barnstorming run to the quarters at Melbourne Park, making her the first local woman to progress that far at the Australian Open since Jelena Dokic a decade earlier.

She will next week rise to a career-high ranking of No.14.

Barty ends her Australian summer with momentum, and a career-best ranking

“Obviously once you get a taste of it (success at Grand Slams), you're always hungry for more,” she said.

“I think I've done everything that I can. I finished the season of 2018 with a title. I've had my best start to 2019. Certainly no complaints from here.

“I'll worry about getting home, being able to celebrate what my team and what I've been able to achieve over the last month. It's been a hell of a month of tennis.

“I'm extremely proud of myself and of my team.”