Tennis Prose



AO Barty Party Sends Sharapova Home

By Louise Belcourt

Outside of Australia one may wonder who Ashleigh Barty, also known as Ash Barty “Party”, is. But today, the Australian finally announced herself to the tennis world with a hard fought, tactically brilliant win over 5-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova 4-6 6-1 6-4.

The contrast between the two players couldn’t have been starker. 31-year old Sharapova stands at 6ft2in (1.88m) tall with 36 WTA titles including the Australian Open in 2008. 22-year old Barty on the other-hand, stands at 5ft5.5in (1.66m) tall with only 3 WTA titles to her name and having never made it passed the 3rd round at her home grand slam (until now). Barty, is known as an unassuming, down to earth girl from Ipswich Queensland, whilst Sharapova, who has been sponsored by the likes of Porsche and Tag Heur, is known world-wide as a glamorous tennis star. Compounding this, Barty has been labelled as women’s best volleyer by the great
John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova, whereas volleying is not one of Sharapova’s strengths.

The match started evenly at 3-3. After being down break points in the 7th game the Russian was able to apply her well renown pressure to break the Australian in the very next game and serve out the set 6-4. Barty one would say lost the set with some unforced errors at the wrong time, with Sharapova winning due to her extreme ‘never give up’ attitude.

At 1-1 in the 2nd set the world number 15 Aussie would go on an incredible 9 game winning streak. She broke down the groundstrokes of the 30th seeded Russian with her low sliced backhand, menacing cross court forehands, mix of pace, consistency and perfectly placed serves.

At 4-0 in the 3rd set the Rod Laver crowd went wild sensing the first Australian woman into the Australian Open quarter final for 10 years. But the Barty party had started too early as Sharapova would not be wiped off the court and mounted a mighty comeback by breaking the Barty serve and getting to break point at 3-4, but an ace and unreturnable serve help Barty push ahead 5-3. Sharapova would then hold her serve and apply the pressure on Barty serving at 5-4 for the match. Barty had 3 match points with the crowd on their feet only to be denied by double fault (called from Hawk-Eye) or winners from Sharapova. On her fourth match point Barty finished the match with an ace. Now the party had started!

Barty said of Sharapova, “She is an absolute champion – she was never going to go away. So I knew that I just had to keep chipping away”. She continued “I know that I can match it with the best, and when I execute I know that I can”. Barty commented on her own unique style of play “Obviously my game is built around my serve and forehand and bring variety with the slice.”

What a journey for the Australian of Aboriginal heritage. In 2011 she won the Wimbledon junior title, but in 2014 she stepped away from the game for 2 years where she played professional cricket (think bat and ball and big oval ground). In 2016 she returned to the game, and in 2017 climbed from 271 to 17 in the world. Barty has the game to beat some of the big players as witnessed today, and in Sydney where she beat world number 1 Simona Halep in straight sets.

Next up for Barty is her Sydney international conqueror Petra Kvitova. The Czech won that final in a close 3 setter just over a week ago. I believe Barty has learnt from that match where she was up a break in the 3rd set and this time with the backing of the Rod Laver Barty Party crowd, mixture of slice and speed, and great defence can take down the world number 8.

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  • Michael In UK · January 20, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    Brilliant win for Ash Barty, and thank you for this excellent match summary, I enjoyed reading every word!

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 20, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Barty is a beautiful player to watch, so smooth, so smart, so poised under pressure. Sharapova lost but she is still a force, this was a very good tournament for her.

  • Michael In UK · January 20, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    …and what about US Danielle Collins wiping floor with Angie Kerber?!

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 20, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    Collins Biofile which I promise you all will enjoy.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 20, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    Michael, the most impressive thing about Collins is her mindset, she has no fear and does not defer to any player, not even the major champions. She will yell CMON and stare them down too. Her intensity is overwhelming like Hewitt’s was. Yelling CMON like she does sends a very bold message: Come on – i want you to show me your best and it doesn’t matter because I can handle it and I will beat you. That is my interpretation of what a tennis player yelling CMON means :)She is a breath of fresh air from all the nicey nice players who are afraid to rock the status quo boat. Collins not only wants to flip the boat over she wants to take over the WTA Tour. I wouldn’t count her out either. She has the game and the mental attitude to do it.

  • catherine · January 21, 2019 at 1:42 am

    Pliskova, Osaka and Svitolina win. Good that Elena seems to be playing well again.

    Who are all these nicey nicey players Scoop ? Can we have a thread that doesn’t turn into a Danielle Collins cheering section ? There are a few players left in the draw who’d like to win this tournament. I think Naomi has a good chance to make the final. And as for Simona – we’ll find that out soon and I’ll be here to tell you.

  • catherine · January 21, 2019 at 2:03 am

    Svitolina showed new variety in her first win against Keys and won the match with a serve/volley point 🙂

  • catherine · January 21, 2019 at 5:19 am

    Serena wins in 3 – not an overpowering performance – fair number of UEs and Simona made a fight of it after losing 1st set 1-6. I’d bet on Serena reaching the final now – maybe winning.

    Simona’s not fully fit I don’t think and you wonder how much longer her body can stand up to year round competi tion.

  • catherine · January 21, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Very generous comments from Naomi about her next opponent Svitolina – how pleased she was for Elena that she’s playing well because last year everyone was writing her off. Funny how I’m starting to notice these things now.

    Serena was also praising of Simona, in between congratulating herself of course. Which I suppose she felt entitled to do.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 21, 2019 at 8:30 am

    Kill them with kindness? Any truth to that quotation?

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 21, 2019 at 8:33 am

    Knew Simona would lose to Serena, when she said she wasn’t the real no. 1 and was just holding it till Serena came back, that was when she lost this match. Champions don’t defer to anyone like that.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 21, 2019 at 8:50 am

    Catherine, Svitolina’s serve and volley was perfect and it might have been the only successful serve and volley in any women’s match so far, I can’t recall seeing a single one this tournament.

  • catherine · January 21, 2019 at 9:51 am

    I’m sure Gael is helping Elena – funny how she’s just developed that shot 🙂

    I saw Kerber win a serve and volley point during a Hopman Cup doubles – maybe she could’ve tried that v Collins. Nothing to lose….

    I’m sure Naomi’s comment was genuine – she’s a nice person and probably sees no conflict of interest – she’ll most likely win anyway.



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