Five minutes with … Ash Barty
We sat down with comeback kid Ash Barty on the eve of her competitive return to Wimbledon in the women's doubles with Laura Robson.
It’s been a wonderful return to the world of tennis for Australia’s Ash Barty.
Barty was spotted back in action in doubles as early as February on the Australian Pro Tour, but when she hit the singles court for the first time during the English grasscourt season, she flourished.
As a qualifier, she reached the semifinals of the $50,000 ITF event in Eastbourne and quarterfinals of the WTA Aegon Open in Nottingham, before reaching the second round of Wimbledon qualifying.
After being unranked, she has soared to world No.335 after winning 12 of her 15 grasscourt singles matches.
We sat down with Barty ahead of her first-round doubles match at the All England Club with Laura Robson.
On the last few weeks returning to singles competition:
“It feels like it went straight back to normal, really. As soon as I walked on the court for that first match it was a relief to get through it and just sort of get back into the routine. But it’s been really good, really enjoyable. Working with Tyz (Craig Tyzzer) has been awesome as well. He’s been really clear, and he’s actually very similar to (former coach) Jason (Stoltenberg) and I did a few weeks with him while I was working with Stolts anyway. So it’s been really good and it’s just been a perfect start. We couldn’t ask for much more … We definitely didn’t think we’d be sitting mid 300s a few weeks in, so it’s set up the rest year for us really well, and just pumped.”
On achieving best WTA result – a quarterfinal in Nottimgham – after such an absence:
“Tyz and I were able to do a really good (training) block before we came over and I think this is an opportunity for me to re-create my game a little bit and add a few dimensions that I either didn’t have or didn’t use first time around. So I think in those last few weeks I was able to do that. And maybe it surprised a few girls and obviously it’s challenging when you haven’t seen someone play for two years. I’m feeling pretty confident at the moment and it’s never easy playing someone who’s confident anyway. So when the girls hadn’t seen me play for two years maybe it was a bonus for me that maybe I could come out and surprise them a little bit.”
On how her game has developed:
“Maybe it’s being a little bit older now and a little bit stronger, as well. It’s a big difference from when you’re 16 to when you’re 20, when you’re a little bit more developed and mature in your body. So it’s nice to have those few extra things, and there’s definitely a few other things that we’ve tried to add into every match. I play a little bit of a different game style to the other girls and we’re trying to just keep that uniqueness and really work on a few of those things.”
On how it feels to be back:
“I feel really good at the moment. I think it’s obviously nice and a lot easier when you’re winning and so we’ll see when we get to those tough times. But I think the first six months for me were always going to be the hardest, stepping back in and having to go back into that training and doing the slog. But I’ve really enjoyed it, and working with Tyz has been really fresh and obviously Stolts is still around as well. So it’s been a really good set up and so far we’re really enjoying it, so no matter what the results are I think we’ll be able to continue to do that.”
On how she came to pair up with Robson:
“Robbo and I played together in my first Australian Open in 2012 so we’ve always been good mates and pretty close in age – I think she’s only a couple of years older – so we’ve always been around each other, and we just thought it’d be good opportunity to come and have a crack to play. It’s been a while since we have played together. We just want to go out there and have some fun.”
On interest from fellow Aussies about her comeback:
“I think that’s just the Aussie way. Aussies always support other Aussies and whether you’re in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam or first round quallies, it doesn’t matter – all of us Aussies support each other and I think that’s the most important thing … it’s nice to see some familiar faces around, and it’s good to see a couple of girls in the locker room I haven’t seen for years as well … I think they’re genuinely happy to see me enjoying myself again and just back on the tour and playing some tennis.”
On her #2.0 on Twitter:
“I think it (represents) just a second chance. A second crack at a sport that’s given me so much. The first time around it was really good, and I think this time it’s just a different perspective. I was sitting down with my family and we were just mucking around and we dubbed it 2.0. It’s just what we sort of said … (That different perspective is that) I think now I’m a little bit older it’s just a little bit different and you can sort of see that you have to be able to be able to enjoy yourself. Yes, we’re playing a serious sport and obviously a professional sport but at the end of the day we get to play a game for a living, and that’s pretty cool. So I think it’s just a different perspective this time but it’s nice that a few people have jumped on board with the 2.0.”