‘A slice backhand like Federer’s’ – Barty leaving opponents helpless at the Australian Open
The world No 1 says she likes to slice – but don’t liken it to a Swiss
Ash Barty is the world No 1 and looking comfortable in her home Grand Slam – but despite her slice backhand proving an effective and aesthetically pleasing weapon so far this fortnight, she shied away from a certain comparison.
Commentator Jim Courier drew parallels between Barty’s shot and that employed by Roger Federer – and the flattered Australian played it down.
“That’s very kind from Jim,” she said to reporters in her post-match press conference. “I think everyone’s shots are unique. I think obviously Roger has one of the most exceptional slice backhands in the game. Mine’s a long way off that. Absolutely, no stretch of the imagination we are even on the same page at all.
“But I love to use my slice, I love to get creative with it, to use it offensively and defensively. Over my career I’ve learnt it is a weapon for me. I try and use it when I have to. Sometimes I try and use it when it’s my choice and I can be really, really aggressive with it. But being able to use it with variety and have different options has been a massive part of my game through this last couple of years of my career.”
And despite only losing two games in the quarter-final against Jessica Pegula, she had a great deal of praise for her opponent, who she said made her work particularly hard for the 6-2, 6-0 win.
“I think the scoreline definitely wasn’t an indication of how the match felt,” she said. “All in all I knew I had to play my very best tennis tonight to match up with Jess and put her under the pump. I was able to serve well, find plenty of forehands, and just try and control the court. I was just trying to be assertive and be aggressive when I could and run and use the chisel and kind of defend when I had to.
“I think I had a really good mix tonight, but that was definitely Jess forcing me to play some of my best stuff.”
Pegula – She makes you feel helpless
For her part, Pegula admitted that she had run out of options against a relentless adversary.
“You feel pretty helpless,” she said. “When she gets into a rhythm, she can kind of run away where she really starts – her game just kind of picks you apart a little bit, and it can be really frustrating because you don’t feel like you can get a lot of free points, there’s really not much you can do.
“I think with her you have to take your chances when you can, and when you don’t she definitely tends to run away with the match a little bit.
“Yeah, it doesn’t feel good. It feels kind of helpless. I didn’t feel there was a lot I could do and then even games where I was up really easy I still didn’t win the games. She just doesn’t give you any free points.”