Tennis and chess master Barty keeps opponents in check at Australian Open | The mighty 790 KFGO
By Courtney Walsh
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – That’s the bet Ash Barty’s opponents are finding it too hard to resist.
Australia’s world number one is a master at tricking his rivals into hitting shots that are too taxing, says David Witt, longtime partner of Venus Williams and now coach of Jessica Pegula, who will face Barty in the quarter-finals Tuesday. .
“I think Ash is trying to get you to take shots that maybe you shouldn’t take,” Witt said. “I think a lot more people have unforced errors against her because she’s very smart in the way she plays.”
Barty approaches tennis like a chess master studies a game. Every move is designed to prepare her for the next game, especially when it comes to her service games.
“It’s not always about trying to hit as hard as possible. I’m rarely redlining, hitting a serve as hard as I can,” she said.
“It’s more about placement, thinking about what kind of return I’m going to get to try to set up the rest of the point.”
The 25-year-old wants to make her opponents uncomfortable, knowing that if she manages to disrupt their rhythm, mistakes will be more frequent.
“It’s the chess game we play,” she said.
“You go out and have fun with it, see who can perform better on the day, and that’s about all there is to it.”
In his last two outings at Rod Laver Arena, Barty has been able to draw mistakes from Amanda Anisimova and Camila Giorgi at critical points to progress.
Barty, who is looking to become the first local since Chris O’Neil in 1978 to win the Australian Open, had half Anisimova’s unforced error count in her fourth-round match.
It was a similar scenario against Giorgi, with the Italian committing 24 unforced errors to 13 for the reigning Wimbledon champion trying to knock her off the court.
The gap was less pronounced in her opening two wins over Lesia Tsurenko and Lucia Bronzetti, but that was partly down to the Aussie’s dominance in those matches.
Pegula, who was part of Barty’s battle at Roland Garros during his championship run in 2019, is aware of the challenge that awaits him at the Rod Laver Arena.
“I feel like Ash is so tactical in everything she does. (She’s) really a smart tennis player…perfect in that way,” she said.
The 27-year-old was a quarter-finalist in Melbourne last year and could leave Australia this year as the highest-ranked woman in the United States. But it will be a challenge.
“You have to beat the best to be the best, so Ash is definitely the best right now,” Witt said. “She has a tough game.”
(Reporting by Courtney Walsh; Editing by Peter Rutherford)