Every evening, before each of her matches at this year’s Australian Open, Ash Barty has clicked open her email box and opened a message from her coach Craig Tyzzer. The messages contain in-depth details of what she needs to do against her next opponent, what she needs to focus on and how best to go about things.
Barty getting the message in Melbourne
Australian into the semi-finals for first time in her career.
"It's nice to have Craig in my corner"
It is a process that seems to be working well, for the Roland-Garros champion is through to the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the first time, her 7-6, 6-2 win over Petra Kvitova revenge for her defeat by the Czech at the same stage in Melbourne 12 months ago.
Tyzzer was the mastermind behind the scenes when Barty won in Paris last year and the messages, Barty said, are pretty comprehensive.
“It's in-depth, got a lot of detail,” she said. “Tyz is very precise in what he has seen from previous matches, what he's looked at into our opponents. Also a little bit of it is just discussion that we have back and forth. He's coach of the year. He's the best at what he does for a reason. It's certainly nice having him in my corner because I feel like he could probably pick me apart pretty easily. So it's nice to have him in my corner.”
Tyzzer has been a key factor in Barty’s ascension to the world No 1 ranking, his tactical expertise crucial but he also has another role to play, keeping the 23-year-old grounded, not easy when her face is plastered all over the city with numerous sponsors and especially not easy when she is trying to become the first Australian to win a singles title at Melbourne Park since 1978.
“My team do a good job at taking the piss a little bit, sending me some of the photos,” she said. “Look, you just have to have fun with it. That's the only way. I don't really have a lot of time actually. I've been on-site quite a bit, not really going for leisurely strolls around Melbourne. When I have an hour or two, it's more just going back to the apartment and spending time with family. That's about it.”
She has found a way
In the seven months since she won her first grand slam title at Roland-Garros, Barty has won the season-ending WTA Finals and become world No 1, the first woman from Australia to top the rankings since Evonne Goolagong in 1976.
She has taken all this in her stride and when she has been pushed, as she was by two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, she has found a way.
Kvitova was probably the better player in the first set as she unloaded with a series of massive groundstrokes and had one set point at 6-5 in the tiebreak. But once Barty had saved it and taken the tiebreak 8-6, there only ever looked like being one winner.
"I'm growing as a person every single day"
Asked if she is playing better than when she won in Paris, Barty said: “They're completely different, completely different. They're different tournaments. I feel like I'm a different person. I'm growing as a person every single day, I'm growing as a tennis player. This is a new experience for me. I'm just going to try and take it in my stride, learn as much as I can and go from there. I'd prefer to just be sitting at home just living my quiet little life. I mean, no offence, but not having to chat to you guys every day would be pretty good. I feel like I have nothing to say. I'm talking in circles a little bit. It's incredible. It's a part of the journey that I hate it and I love it. It's all the same. It's all in good fun.”
Next up for Barty will be Sofia Kenin, the American who beat Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 6-4, 6-4 to reach her first grand slam semi-final.
“She's an exceptional competitor as well,” Barty said. “Loves to put herself out there, test herself on the biggest stage. Have played her a number of times now, with some results going both ways. She has a great knack of controlling the court from the centre of the court and being that first-strike player. It's going to be important for me to try and nullify that if I can.”