Barty's AO record speaks of home comforts

  • Matt Trollope

World No.1 Ash Barty may be most notable for her Roland Garros triumph in 2019, but it is at the Australian Open where she has become the most consistent and formidable threat.

The AO is “her home slam” in every sense of the word, played in her country of birth but also the tournament at which she feels the most comfortable.

And this level of comfort is shining through in her results. 

With her victory over Shelby Rogers on Monday night, Barty has now advanced to the quarterfinals of the past three Australian Opens – something no other female player has managed.

It means her win-loss record at the event has improved to 17-7 with a winning percentage of 70.8, far superior to her record at any other Grand Slam tournament.

Champions of her calibre, however, are rarely satisfied.

“Oh, we're not done yet,” Barty said of her AO2021 campaign, which next features a clash in the last eight against talented Czech Karolina Muchova.

Ash Barty in front of her own eyes on a mural at Melbourne Park

“Obviously it's exciting to be in another quarterfinal of a Grand Slam, particularly here in Australia.

“If we had looked at the way we were preparing during our preseason, to have the start that we have had so far is really encouraging, but certainly not satisfied with where we're at at the moment

“We will keep chipping away and keep trying to do the right things to progress as far as we can.”

Barty’s preparation has been the subject of great interest, given a near year-long absence from the tour before she returned to action at the beginning of this month.

How quickly would she regain her touch? Would there be rust? How would her body handle the competitive load after such a long break? Would she hit the ground running?

The answers Barty provided via her on-court performances? Very, hardly any, fairly well, and yes.

She won four matches to claim the title at the WTA Yarra Valley Classic, and has since won four more at the Australian Open to continue her unbeaten start to 2021.

Incredibly, she has dropped only 20 games at AO 2021 so far, the second fewest of any player remaining behind Jennifer Brady.

“She's put it together really well, probably better than I expected,” Barty’s coach Craig Tyzzer said on Tuesday.

“To be where we're at is fantastic, to keep playing in a Grand Slam, it's always difficult to win matches. You've got to be there on the day, win seven matches to get there. She knows how tough it is to do. She's done it once before.

“The best part is when she's going out (to play), she's really competing really well. I just hope that keeps going.

“I know if she goes out and does her best, her best is often good enough.”

"She's put it together really well, probably better than I expected."
Craig Tyzzer, coach of Ash Barty

Barty's impressive level has helped her compile the best AO record of any Australian player to compete in singles since the tournament relocated from Kooyong to its current home in 1988.

She is the only local player to progress to more than one AO quarterfinal at Melbourne Park – let alone three – and taking into account her four victories this fortnight, she now has the highest match-winning percentage of any of them.

Barty has also never lost at the tournament earlier than she did the previous year, meaning that, if she was to continue this pattern, she would beat Muchova to return to the semifinals for the second straight year.

The last Australian woman to appear in an AO singles semifinal prior to Barty was Wendy Turnbull in 1984. Turnbull was also the last local woman to go all the way to a final, in 1980.

Barty with the Yarra Valley Classic trophy

Not one to look ahead, Barty is squarely focused on her upcoming battle Muchova, which promises to be a stylish match-up between two all-court players.

“I remember coming off the court and saying to my coach Karolina, she can play, she's a hell of a player,” Barty said of her previous clash with the Czech, at the US Open in 2018, which she won.

“Certainly that match in New York, it was a great match, a brilliant match. I know that now we get another opportunity to do it in a quarterfinal of a Grand Slam.

“It will be a brilliant match. I'm looking forward to it.”