Ashleigh Barty not worried about home-slam pressure


“Regardless of whether I win or lose I think the Aussie public love the fact when Australians come out and do give it a crack.

“That’s what I can promise – I’ll go out there and give it my best and then whatever happens, happens.”

For 23-year-old Barty, 2019 was a consummate breakout year, with her maiden major title – the French Open crown – the distinct highlight. But Barty also took the world No.1 spot, established a handy lead over her challengers, ruled the roost at the season-ending WTA Finals – where she took home a $6.4 million pay packet – and added to her string of awards by winning the WTA Player of the Year award.

Barty spearheaded Australia’s assault on its first Fed Cup title since 1974 but hope turned to heartbreak as France notched a 3-2 victory with the tie decided with the final doubles rubber.

The Queenslander is still taking the defeat, which included her final-day, three-set, singles loss to Kristina Mladenovic, in her stride.

“There shouldn’t be any assumptions in sport,” she said.

“There are no certainties in sport and I think that is the beauty of sport – anyone can be beaten on any given day.”

The French Open champion will launch her 2020 campaign on home turf on the Pat Rafter Arena, where she will play singles and doubles at the Brisbane International, starting in early January.

She’s looking forward to a potentially heavy workload up to and including the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, where her campaign ended in the quarter-finals last year in what was then her deepest progression at the majors.

“The more than I can play in Australia [the better],” Barty said.

“I love playing in Australia. I love playing in front of the Australian public and obviously it’s an opportunity for us Aussies to play the first month of the year at home.

“I didn’t hesitate at all in trying to play as much as I could – not just in playing more matches leading up to the Australian Open but also enjoying it.

“I love playing in Australia and I think being able to play for the whole month is really exciting.”

The last Australian woman to win the Australian Open was Chris O’Neal in 1978, while the drought for Australian men is only slightly longer after Mark Edmondson’s victory in 1976.

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After some valuable downtime since the WTA Finals in China in October followed by the Fed Cup, Barty is into the early phase of off-season training with a focus on strength.

More time on court and hitting balls will happen closer to the start of tournament play. That’s also when she’ll start to turn her mind to setting some specific goals for 2020.

“We’ve been focused on getting in that volume [of training] for the first couple of weeks of pre-season,” said Barty.

“Once we get a little bit closer to that first tournament at the Brisbane International we’ll look forward to setting some goals then and really kind of fine-tuning some specific goals, also with longer-term ones.”

Barty’s coach, Craig Tyzzer, said nothing was changing drastically with his protege’s off-season program.

“We’re not looking to do anything different. Obviously what we did last year was pretty successful,” he said.

“We’re going to stick to similar themes. We’ve got a few things we’re working on tennis-wise.

“We’ll also do a few things differently with strength and conditioning but pretty much stick to the same program that we’ve stuck to right through.”

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