Tennis Prose



Ash Barty’s Australian Day Party

By Louise Belcourt

Australian Ashleigh Barty gave Aussies even more to party about on Australia Day with a fighting 6-3 1-6 6-4 win over Alison Riske in the Australian Open fourth round. Just a day after Australian Nick Kyrgios exorcised his 5 set demons with a win over Karon Khachanov, and on the day Barty was aptly crowned the Young Australian of the year!

The world number 1 was really tested as Riske has been a difficult opponent in the past, having lost to her in 3 sets in the same round at Wimbledon 2019 in 97 minutes. Astonishingly, this match also lasted 97 minutes, but this time the world’s best found a way to conquer her nemesis.

The Rod Laver crowd was awash with green and gold, and there was chants from Aqua’s Barbie song “Come on, Barty, lets go Party! Ah Ah Ah yeah”. The crowd help lift the Roland-Garros champion after crumbling under the relentless big hitting and net play from the world number 19 in the second set.

Thankfully for Australia the third set was not a repeat of the Wimbledon match, with Barty starting to use her slice a lot to open-up the court before hitting winners off both wings down the line. Unfortunately for the world number 19 when serving to stay in the match she would double fault to hand the charming Aussie a second consecutive showing in the Australian Open quarter finals.

Barty explained the reason the American is such a tough opponent for her and other players, “She has the ability to adapt her game, to make the opponent uncomfortable. I think she’s got a great tennis brain of problem solving, as well.”

Of her game plan the Aussie admitted “Tonight it was important to get off to a good start. I

was a little bit loose, pressed too much [in the second set]. Very proud of the way we were able to bring it back in the third, go back to the patterns I wanted to play.”

She explained her mindset in the last year that helped her catapult to the top of the game, “Year in, year out, it’s about trying to be consistent every single match, trying to be present every single match, not thinking about what’s happened before, not thinking about what’s to come. It’s just about trying to do the best you can on that given day.”

In a repeat of last year’s Australian Open quarter final Barty will again take on Petra Kvitova. But like her matchup last year with Riske, she will be hoping for a different result than the 6-1 6-4 demolition she endured. Barty said of how she can beat Kvitova, “More experience. I’ve played Petra a few more times [and won those]. Yeah, tactically the last few times we’ve played Petra, we’ve had a small, small adjustment, small change. It’s never an easy match. I think maybe all but one have gone to three sets.”

I believe with her added confidence of having won a grand slam, winning the $4.42million WTA finals in 2019, and being world number 1 for 28 weeks, this time she can work out a way to edge passed the tricky Czech and move closer to an elusive home grand slam by an Aussie.



  • Andrew Miller · January 28, 2020 at 1:25 am

    Barty playing huge. She makes Australia proud.

  • Andrew Miller · January 28, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    Barty having an Andy Murray moment? May do what Rafter, Stosur, Hewitt, Molik, others couldn’t 🙂

  • Hartt · January 28, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    I hope Barty does get the title, what an accomplishment that would be!

  • Hartt · January 28, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    That expression that Michael Downey used, “humble confidence,” suits Ash Barty perfectly.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 28, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    Barty is the best sportswoman of the WTA, no drama, bo BS, no controversy, just straight playing. She deserves it but Kenin is a large obstable in her way.

  • Jon King · January 29, 2020 at 7:24 am

    Tons to like about Kenin’s story and fight. Love Barty’s game and persona. Always enjoyed watching Halep. I’m good if any of them win.

    Interesting how 3 out of the 4 are shorter players. For a while there it seemed like women’s tennis was destined to be only for the very tall..

  • catherine · January 29, 2020 at 7:49 am

    Jon – you’re not a fan of Mugs ? I think it would be great if she won – she can add to her 2 GSs, show she’s recovered from Sumyk and that tall women aren’t disadvantaged 🙂

  • Jon King · January 29, 2020 at 9:19 am

    catherine, I’m good with Mugs. I would not be upset if she won. She would just be my 4th choice. In order of hoping they win, I go Kenin, Barty, Halep, Mugs.

  • Andrew Miller · January 29, 2020 at 9:22 am

    Muguruza is the “unlikeable champ”. Hard to knock what she’s done, yet again, with Conchita Martinez as coach. She is playing as she did before nabbing a Wimbledon title, and she has convincingly beaten Bertens, who is super tough, and Pavlyuchenkova, who is playing some of the best tennis of her life. She has performed beautifully in reaching the semifinals, and she has that look in her eye. I thought when she began winning again that it was the start of something, and she shows that with the right people and mentality a player can conjure the magic again against the best.

    It may be that, when all the hoopla was about Andreescu and Osaka, players like Muguruza was preparing to win big again. Never underestimate the hunger these players have.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 29, 2020 at 9:39 am

    Kenin makes a major semifinal and it is not even news in America. Coco wins a few rounds and she gets as much attention as Kobe’s supposed death. See the media agendas at play?

  • catherine · January 29, 2020 at 10:17 am

    Kobe’s ‘supposed death’? You never cease to astound me Scoop.

    And my view is that if Coco fails to performn she’ll be quickly forgotten about.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 29, 2020 at 10:26 am

    Catherine that photo of the crash and no helicopter there baffles. Plus the black copter and the white and blue one are not the same. SOmething could be fishy. As you know I question everything.

  • Andrew Miller · January 29, 2020 at 10:38 am

    Press attention cuts both ways, and Australian Open doesn’t matter to casual US sports fans.

    Don’t feel sorry for Sandgren. His ranking has increased enough to the point he’s direct entry for many major tournaments and definitely all slams this year, so he does not have to spend time on the low money challenger circuit. Plays his cards right, prepares, he will have a nice year, whether from a ranking standpoint or bank account standpoint.

    re: press coverage, how would anyone here know whether there is an upcoming feature on Sandgren in Tennis Magazine or some other outlet? We don’t. Deeper coverage on players always lags whatever newspapers can put together on a short deadline. Sandgren benefits one way or another, and if I’m Sandgren I’m looking forward to talking about my tennis for a better in-depth feature than a brief take on what I did yesterday.

    Many U.S. fans care about is being number one and U.S. players haven’t been number one in tennis for either a significant number of years (WTA tour) or many, many, many years (ATP tour). I was amazed a few casual sports fans knew who Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal were, and probably because they watched a lot of ESPN.

    Some U.S. TENNIS fans weren’t aware that previously “significant” U.S. players (see: Harrison, R) were now struggling, but to their credit went to see him anyways because they are tennis fans and don’t care if the ranking is up or down, only that the guy puts his best effort up.

    Furthermore it helps Kenin to have less press and attention. She can keep preparing for a very hard match. Attention doesn’t win grand slams, and as it happens what Kenin really needs are a few fans at Rod Laver arena.

    What WTA players don’t appear to understand at the Australian if they aren’t Australian, is that the crowd is part of the match. If you aren’t Australian you need a way to win the crowd over. That’s going to be hard against a star like Barty. If Barty is nervous Kenin has a shot. If Barty is playing as she has, she’ll have the crowd support and it will be tough for Kenin to make headway.

    Anyways this obsession with media coverage is ridiculous. Think of all the

  • Andrew Miller · January 29, 2020 at 10:43 am

    Again, where’s the Querrey/Isner feature on their deep runs at Wimbledon? Or how they reached their potential in an era devoid of a U.S. men’s superstar? (could change, and some players show they have a lot more depth than we’ve realized).

    And, reality check, making a QF, though FAR better than when U.S. men’s tennis was on life support (February 2014), is still the same level as what Anna Kontaveit accomplished. A very good result, and for some a career result.

    That’s it. Not a title win, etc. Just a great result at a big tournament.

  • Andrew Miller · January 29, 2020 at 10:46 am

    Catherine don’t take the bait!!! It’s a land-mine.

  • Andrew Miller · January 29, 2020 at 10:58 am

    To Catherine’s point, to take nothing away from impressive results at young ages, “media coverage cuts both ways”. Capriati may have loved the fan-fare, which I’d imagine is intoxicating, but probably didn’t love what took place next.

    I won’t put Ms. Gauff down – she has played a great tournament, and she is quite a talent. I find it hard to predict anything, because tennis is hard and the WTA is as competitive as it has ever been (ferocious). Even as I lament the (abysmal?) strategy of players, I can’t deny: they are incredibly good players.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 29, 2020 at 11:03 am

    Capriati loved the tennis world so much she’s completely divorced herself from it. Hsieh and Strycova into the ladies finals vs Kiki Babos, what a final that will be, can’t wait, popcorn popper ready. Gauff is on her way to superstardom. But so too is Kenin. Whether the American media wants it or not. Two marvelous talents with tremendous upsides. Wonder if Mouratoglou ever considered to try to ride Kenin’s coattails? 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 29, 2020 at 11:06 am

    The Kenin story is interesting. I first remember hearing about her when she was about six years old because a veteran tennis photographer named Art Seitz was always hyping her up to us media reporters. He was like her unofficial PR agent, we all knew about Kenin since she was six or seven, he kept on trumpeting her every time you would run into Art Seitz. And it turned out Art Seitz was 100% right. Nice lill media story. Wonder if the media will ever tell it. Or are they too busy overexposing Gauff?

  • Andrew Miller · January 29, 2020 at 11:08 am

    Mouratoglou academy cheap compared to Bolletieri. Given it’s possible to get the same level of nothing, or something, from both of them, definitely ask for a discount from Bolletieri, oh wealthy tennis parents!!!

  • Jon King · January 29, 2020 at 11:11 am

    The media uses analytics these days to see what will get clicks and viewers. Gauff moves the needle, Kenin, Sandgren do not.

    Gauff works with the young age thing, the next Williams sister thing. Anisimova if she had won would work with the next Pova angle and they would use the tragedy of her dad as another angle to their story.

    Kenin could win the AO and not get much more than a passing blip from the media. She just does not have what they want…some angle they can play off of.

  • Jon King · January 29, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Kenin was in 2 Rick Macci USPTA videos at 5 and 6 years old. She had a website. She was very well known among junior coaches at 5 years old as those videos were standards in how to train very young players with proper technique.

    I have those DVDs on my shelf right now.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 29, 2020 at 11:20 am

    Jimmy Arias made Nick Bollettieri. Jimmy Arias is the reason IMG Academy is here. Interesting quotes I got last week from an insider.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 29, 2020 at 11:21 am

    Anisimova too busy falling in love with Kyrgios. Will be the big new couple of 2020.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 29, 2020 at 11:22 am

    Kenin had perfect textbook form at age 5? When did she start, the day after she was born?

  • Jon King · January 29, 2020 at 11:28 am

    Oh I can tell you about IMG. Have known several folks that have worked there in all sorts of capacities. They run several games.

    The first is that every kid who shows up has ‘potential’. Every parent is sold a ‘discount’. Your kid is so special they are getting 20% or some % off the costs. But in reality the discount is the actual cost. No one pays full price.

    Many of the kids there got reeled in through ‘free weeks’. These are handed out by recruiters to any kid with a pulse who wins any type of tournament or from a local coach working with the recruiters. These free weeks are the time where parents are sold on how special their kids are to get them to commit to paying for more time.

    As a very high up person told me, if your paying for your kid, we do not believe they have it. Only 2-3 kids at any given time are there totally free. The rest are paying for those 2-3 with their special discounts.

  • Jon King · January 29, 2020 at 11:32 am

    Yes Scoop she did…her forehand and backhand were textbook at age 5. Up, drop, hit is what Macci did over and over. I think the videos can still be found on the USPTA site.

    I used the Kenin videos for my own kid. My girl started hitting balloons hung from the ceiling at age 18 months with a tiny Sponge Bob racquet. She would hit balls out of her ball pit for hours at age 2. By age 3 she could hit from a Tennis Tutor ball machine from the baseline.

    Age 5 is old for us crazed tennis dads!!!

  • Andrew Miller · January 29, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    Thankfully players healthy. Not always the case: A. Glatch was the next big thing, and she has been injured most of her pro career, and her story (possibly?) is more normal than the rise of Keys, Kenin, etc.

    See this from 2005. WTA is a graveyard for former U.S. No. 1 girls players.

    August 2005, after upsetting S. Mirza
    “Q. Did you read the Sports Illustrated piece during Wimbledon that had you in there as maybe one of the younger players to watch?

    ALEXA GLATCH: No, I didn’t.

    Q. You’ve heard the chatter about yourself as being one of the younger players who could have an impact. How do you deal with that?

    ALEXA GLATCH: I don’t worry about it at all. I mean, I don’t focus on that. I just go out on court and do my business, try not to read too many of those articles, just stay focused on what I want to do and what I want to accomplish, not worry about what everyone is saying.

    Q. But within yourself, is top 10 or being a consistent elite player something you want to accomplish?

    ALEXA GLATCH: Yeah, definitely. I mean, that’s my goal. I want to be No. 1 in the world someday. I have high hopes.”

  • Andrew Miller · January 29, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    Too cynical. Cut kids some slack. They aren’t writing the promotional [insert choice four letter word here].

    However: they are in charge of what they broadcast on their IG posts. And I will say it again: “IG or tennis. Choose wisely, young player.”

  • Hartt · January 29, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    Wow, Jon, you tennis dads are something else! But hopefully you want your kids to have fun playing tennis, whatever your dreams for them.

  • Andrew Miller · January 29, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    Prose comment – an ESPN sentence in need of a re-write, an editor, or possibly some training for the reporter:

    “Kenin struggled at times with Jabeur’s tricky shot selection, yet was always in control despite it being her first appearance in a major quarterfinal.”



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