Barty hopes 'tough lessons' bring Australian Open title

World number one says she’s at ease heading into her home Slam despite weight of expectation


AFP January 15, 2022

MELBOURNE:

World number one Ashleigh Barty hopes that some "tough lessons" will help propel the home favourite to a first Australian Open title.

The 25-year-old is strongly fancied to be crowned champion in two weeks' time, breaking her duck at a tournament where she has never gone beyond the semi-finals.

She fired a warning to the rest of the field by claiming the singles and doubles titles in Adelaide last week and is full of confidence.

Recently engaged to her long-time boyfriend, Barty said she was at ease heading into her home Slam despite the weight of expectation and being number one seed.

"I know I say it a lot -- regardless of the number next to my name, that doesn't change the way we approach it. Particularly here in Australia, it's exciting," Barty said Saturday.

Barty won the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon last year to finish the season as world number one after winning five titles.

It elevated her alongside Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams and Chris Evert as the only women to finish as the top-ranked player for three consecutive years.

The humble Australian said she was constantly learning despite being in such distinguished company.

"Each and every match I learn. Every experience I learn from, whether it's good, bad or indifferent," she said.

"You have to be able to take learnings from every experience. That's certainly been no different here in Australia -- I've had some pretty tough lessons, but also some incredible moments.

"Hopefully that puts me in good stead for another year, another crack here, and we just keep going."

Barty begins her tournament against Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko, a qualifier who is nevertheless experienced, winning four WTA titles.

The Australian admitted it was a tough start.

"She obviously knows how to win big matches, she just knows how to play in the big moments. She knows how to navigate and win matches, navigate through some tough times," said Barty.

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