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Barty: Australian Open title “brilliant way to finish”

  • Matt Trollope

The atmosphere inside Rod Laver Arena was hair-raising as Ash Barty whittled down Danielle Collins’ 5-1 second-set lead in the women’s singles final at Australian Open 2022.

And when she went ahead 4-0 in the subsequent tiebreak with an athletic overhead winner, the roar was almost incomparable. 

A few points later, Barty threaded a forehand passing shot winner to seal a famous 6-3 7-6(2) triumph. It earned her a third major singles title and saw her become the first Australian player to win the AO singles title in 44 years. 

REPORT: Brilliant Barty breaks local drought with AO title

It turned out that forehand winner would be the last she would ever strike.

Less than two months later, Barty shocked Australia, and the wider sporting world, by revealing in an interview posted to her social media channels that she was retiring from tennis.

READ MORE: Ash Barty retires - "I've given absolutely everything"

Going out on such an incredible high, with a major title in her home country, was something Barty reflected upon fondly. 

“That moment I was fully engrossed. It was such an incredible moment to share with so many people,” Barty told media assembled in Brisbane the day after her bombshell announcement.

World No.1 Ash Barty speaks to the media in Brisbane the day after announcing her retirement from professional tennis. (Getty Images)

“That crowd the night of the final of the Australian Open was like nothing I’ve ever played in front of before. It was so much fun to enjoy that with them, as well as my team. 

“But it was a brilliant way to finish.”

Barty consistently produced her best tennis when she played in Australia. 

Twice she won the Adelaide International. Twice she reached the final of the Sydney International. And for the past four years, she advanced to at least the quarterfinal stage at Melbourne Park, ending her career with a 24-8 win-loss record at the AO – a winning rate of 75 per cent.

Those 24 match wins are more than she has achieved at Roland Garros and Wimbledon – the other two majors she won – combined. 

The attention and expectation that comes with playing at home has negatively affected countless players who contest big tournaments in their own countries.

Yet as her performance record proves, Barty instead found herself boosted by local crowds.

“I’m so lucky to get some much love and support here in Australia, and so many people have made my career so much more fun. Being able to share and experience that with them made it all the better,” Barty said.

“The Australian public allowed me to be myself – they allowed me to make mistakes, they allowed me to be imperfect, and it just made it so much more fun. 

“It really did make that Australian Open so much more enjoyable for all of us, to be able to go, ‘You know what? This is one last crack, let’s see what we can do.’ 

“And it was really cool.”

Tyzzer: “She won the Aussie Open for everyone”

Longtime coach Craig Tyzzer, who joined Barty for her media conference in Brisbane, said he was not shocked by her decision.

He revealed that after she won Roland Garros in 2019, and he was joining her on court preparing to discuss how “profound” it was, her first words to him were: “Can I retire now?”

“It was really difficult to do the pre-season for the lead-up to the Aussie summer circuit,” Tyzzer admitted. 

“She just put her head down and went super hard. I feel the hardest thing was trying to motivate (her), to get a spark… because her tennis and her mindset, she was so relaxed and so easy-going with it all, it was almost like she didn’t care whether she won or lost. But she obviously did.

“I think it’s the right time (for her to step away). I think she won the Aussie Open for everyone, not just for her. I think that was for everyone else. And I don’t think there’s anything left in the tank for her.”

Longtime coach Craig Tyzzer (L) joined Ash Barty at her retirement press conference in Brisbane. (Getty Images)

Barty said that she hit as recently as 10 days ago and would forever stay connected to the sport. 

While she was reluctant to go into detail about what she next planned to do, she hinted it could involve guiding the next generation of Australian tennis players.

“I’ll never stop loving the sport, I’ll never stop hitting tennis balls. I just won’t be doing it selfishly for me to try and progress my career. It’ll be for different reasons,” she explained. 

“I can’t wait to get out there with young girls and boys and contribute in different ways. I’m really excited to have more time to do that. And I can’t wait to get out on court and teach my nieces and nephews and hope that tennis brings them the same love that it brought me.

"Seeing the smiles on the kids' faces, bringing them the opportunity to play tennis… it reminds me how it felt for me learning to play this sport. And that's going to be a beautiful way for me to be able to contribute.”

Ash Barty poses with the Australian Open trophy in front of Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building the day after winning the 2022 women's singles final. (Getty Images)

With Barty exiting professional tennis at just 25 years of age, it prompted one reporter to ask whether or not a comeback was at all feasible. 

"You never say never, but it's a long, long way off at this stage,” Barty replied.

"Having the Australian Open as my last match, turned out to be an incredible moment and certainly memories that I'll never forget."