Ashleigh Barty: World number one praises depth of women’s tennis as Australian Open looms

Ash Barty

World number one Ashleigh Barty has hailed the depth of women’s tennis right now and says she’ll have to play her best to stand a chance of winning the Australian Open.

Last year, all four Grand Slam titles were won by different players. Naomi Osaka claimed her fourth major win at the Australian Open, Barbora Krejcikova stormed to victory at Roland Garros, Emma Raducanu made history at the Australian Open and Barty herself won Wimbledon.

Meanwhile, Spain’s Garbine Muguruza triumphed at the WTA Finals and Swiss star Belinda Bencic won gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

Barty has been the number one ranked player in the world for three consecutive years but conceded that rankings often mean nothing when it comes to big competitions.

Speaking ahead of the start of her new season at the Adelaide International, the Australian said: “There’s fresh challengers every year regardless of who is in what spot on the ranking list.

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“There were certainly a number of breakout stars through[out] 2021. Girls really stepped up [and] were able to play really consistent seasons which is exciting to see for the women’s game.

“Genuinely there is really good depth and you have to bring your best time and time again to be able to compete with everyone and give yourself a chance to win the big titles.”

There are plenty of big names taking part in the Adelaide International, including Maria Sakkari, Paula Badosa and Aryna Sabalenka.

Barty is still one of the overwhelming favourites to win the season opener but conceded that warm-up tournaments at the beginning of the year are just about finding your feet again.

“It’s a different beast. You just need to enjoy that and work your way through it in the first couple weeks because not often are you playing your very best tennis right at the start,” Barty said.

“I’m looking forward to that challenge starting here in Adelaide of trying to find my groove, really enjoy being out on the match court again.”

And the Wimbledon champion has reminded herself to be patient, given she has not played competitive tennis for almost four months.

Ash Barty

“In the next couple weeks I’ll have to be patient with myself, it has been a while since I’ve played a competitive match.

“But I feel good. I feel ready. Now it’s just about going out there and enjoying it.”

There are just two weeks to go until the Australian Open. Fingers crossed it can live up to the excitement of last year’s majors.

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