Ashleigh Barty: Aussie Pocket Rocket

Ashleigh Barty, the champion at the WTA Miami Open.
Each Monday, LWOT will profile a champion from one of the previous week’s tournaments beginning this week with WTA Miami Open winner Ashleigh Barty.

Ashleigh Barty might be small in size, but she packs as much punch as any of the big hitters on the WTA Tour. Currently the world #1 in singles, the Australian has the 2019 French Open singles title and the 2018 US Open doubles title in her pocket, and the world is at her feet. Barty, who was born in Ipswich, Queensland in 1996, is of Ngarigo Indigenous Australian descent and serves as a Indigenous tennis ambassador for Tennis Australia.

Barty is an all court player, with a tremendous topspin forehand and a powerful serve despite her short stature. An accomplished doubles player, she is able to transition to the net with ease and is one of the best volleyers in the women’s game. Barty also wreaks havoc with her slice backhand, a shot she uses uncommonly effectively. Barty is currently being coached by Australian Craig Tyzzer. Fellow Queenslander Jim Joyce was Barty’s long-time junior coach, whilst Jason Stoltenberg is also a former coach.

In 2015, Barty took a year-long break from tennis, citing lack of enjoyment and burnout as factors in her decision. During her time off, she began training with a local cricket club, Western Suburbs, and immediately impressed with her skills. In fact, Barty made such an impact in Brisbane’s Women’s Premier Cricket T20 league that she was signed up by the Brisbane Heat for the inaugural Women’s Big Bash league, during which she was a regular member of the team.

In 2016, Barty returned to the WTA Tour and impressed immediately, qualifying for Eastbourne and Nottingham, where she pushed top-ten stalwart Karolina Pliskova to three sets. But it was her 2017 season which really caught the attention of the tennis world. After being ranked outside the top 200 in January, she ended the year inside the top 20 and won her first singles event, the Malaysian Open. Four years later, she is a world #1 and French Open singles champion, with several prestigious singles and doubles trophies to her name.

Barty’s form in 2021 has been good. She has already won two tournaments, the WTA Yarra Valley Classic in the lead-up to the Australian Open in Melbourne and in Miami, where she beat Bianca Andreescu in the final via retirement, last week. She did fall short at the Australian Open, where she looked to be the favourite to at least make the final but ultimately lost in the quarterfinals to Karolina Muchova.

Still, her win in Miami has got her season back on track and she will surely have high expectations of a successful spell on the European clay after winning the French Open title two years ago. In terms of potential, the sky is the limit for Barty. As the world #1, the Australian is expected to perform well at all Majors given her all surface prowess.

If Barty can maintain a high level of play like she did in Miami and avoid concentration lapses, she will be a force to be reckoned with every week. There is particular excitement at the world #1’s prospects at Wimbledon, where she was a junior singles champion. The race to secure the year-end #1 ranking between her and Japanese superstar Naomi Osaka certainly looks like it will be one of to remember.

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