Tagged in: ashleigh barty

Ashleigh Barty offers no guarantees beyond Melbourne Park

Sports fans should savour Ash Barty’s return to tennis because it could be fleeting.

While Barty hopes Friday night’s [AEDT] comeback match in Adelaide marks the beginning of a “long season” ahead, the world No.1 is offering no real guarantees beyond the Australian summer.

Barty hasn’t played since last February, deciding not to leave Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 24-year-old sat out the US Open in September and even opted against defending her French Open crown three weeks later in Paris.

With coronavirus still rampant around the world, the Queenslander confesses she and coach Craig Tyzzer have yet to commit to a concrete calendar beyond the Australian Open starting on Feb. 8.

“Not a lot’s changed. Obviously it’s still quite a delicate situation and we have a couple of plans,” Barty told AAP ahead of her exhibition match versus world No.2 Simona Halep on Friday night.

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“We have options A, B, C and D to kind of go through and we have to wing it a little bit, honestly, because we can’t know quite what to expect.

“But what ‘Tyzz’ and I have spoken about is that our kind of stance remains the same – the priority for us is the health and wellbeing of not only us two on the road, but also our families back home.

“So, for us, that’s a really important thing, regardless of what tournaments may be on.

“Our decisions will always be prioritized by our health and by the bigger picture for us of more than just hitting tennis balls.”

And with that approach, Barty plans on enjoying the summer – and her second Australian Open bid as top seed – rather than fretting about trying to break the country’s infamous 43-year singles title drought in Melbourne.

“It’s been a trying time for everyone down here in Victoria, in particular. So we have to be extremely grateful and understand just how lucky we are that we have an opportunity to play,” she stated.

“So I’ll go out there to try and do the best that I can to enjoy it but also go out there and try and do everyone proud knowing that we’ve got the tennis back and hopefully it’s going to be a really good month.”

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Ashleigh Barty claims third straight Newcombe Medal

Ashleigh Barty has added yet more silverware to her stunning 2019 collection after collecting a third straight Newcombe Medal as Australia’s outstanding tennis player of the year.

Never in doubt, Barty formally received her award from John Newcombe at tennis’s night of nights at Melbourne’s Crown Palladium on Monday.

During an remarkable season, Barty became Australia’s first French Open champion since Margaret Court in 1973 and the country’s first women’s world No.1 since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.

She was also the first-ever Australian woman to secure the year-end top ranking – and first Aussie since Lleyton Hewitt to do so in 2002.

Barty crowned her spectacular season in ultimate fashion by defeating four top-eight rivals in eight days to win the prestigious WTA Finals in Shenzhen and, with it, $6.4 million – the biggest cheque in tennis history.

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Fittingly, having also claimed the Newcombe Medal in 2017 and then sharing it last year with Alex de Minaur, Barty joins fellow grand slam champion Samantha Stosur as only the second three-time recipient of the award.

Stosur, who also landed a hat-trick from 2010-2012, was also recognised on Monday night with the Spirit of Tennis Award.

The 2011 US Open champion was honoured for her leadership, professionalism and the positive impact she’s had on the sport throughout a near-20-year pro career.

“Sam has genuinely remained unchanged and unaffected by all her success,” said her former long-time coach David Taylor after presenting Stosur with the award.

“I cannot recall a single training session in the almost eight years we spent together where she did not give 100 per cent.

“It’s a testament to Sam’s character that she has enjoyed longevity at the pinnacle of the game. A multiple grand slam champion, Sam joins the ranks of Australian tennis greats and is a terrific role model for any aspiring player.”

Barty’s trusted mentor Craig Tyzzer was named elite coach of the year.

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