Another big year brewing for Barty
In a wide-open women's tour, Ash Barty senses the opportunity to go even higher than she's already climbed - and that could happen with a strong Australian summer.
Australian No.1 Ashleigh Barty won’t shy away from the spotlight as she prepares to start her season in Brisbane.
The 21-year-old was ranked No.271 at the start of the year, but will enter the Brisbane International – which starts on Monday – as eighth seed and No.17 in the world.
The Ipswich product will play world No.42 Lesia Tsurenko in round one on either Sunday or Monday and says she is prepared for the inevitable hype as she approaches the Australian Open next month.
“You have to embrace it, there’s only one way you can go about it and the attention has changed,” she said.
“It’s been nice to get more support; I’ve always had phenomenal support but it feels like it’s gone to the next level.”
Barty walked away from tennis to play cricket in 2015-16 and is surprised by how quickly success has come in her return to the sport.
But she isn’t satisfied with her rapid ascension, admitting she sees an opportunity in what is an evenly-split field.
Five women took turns as world No.1 this year, while each of the four Grand Slam events were won by different players.
Barty has never been beyond the third round in a major tournament but beat five top-10 players this year to prove she’s ready.
“It’s an exciting time for women’s tennis, with veterans and young players coming through,” she said.
“Maybe the door’s open a little bit … the elusive top 10 is just there and feels very close but in the same breath very far away.”
Barty has never played Tsurenko but knows she will be required to win it off her own racquet.
“She’s got a very solid game, been a top 50 player for a few years now and I think she bases her game around an opponent’s errors,” she said.
“So we have to be solid and exploit a few things in her game.”
Sunday’s schedule of play will be announced later on Saturday, with fellow Queenslander Sam Stosur also a chance of opening her tournament against seventh seed Anastasija Sevastova.
For Brisbane International tickets and more tournament information, visit brisbaneinternational.com.au.