20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer has said it is a ‘pleasure’ watching Ash Barty play on the tour as he issues his own advice to the women’s world No.1 ahead of the Australian Open.
The 38-year-old believes Barty will feel more at ease after winning her maiden grand slam title last year at the French Open. Although she has failed to reach the quarter-finals at her two most recent major tournaments, getting knocked out in the fourth round of both of them. In 2019 Barty enjoyed the best season of her career so far after winning four out of her seven WTA titles. She also managed to clinch the year-end top spot for the first time.
“What a great year she had, it was a pleasure watching her play.” Federer told reporters at a promotional event on Monday. “I like how she mixes it up, uses her slices with great effect, and then she’s got variety.’
“She doesn’t need to breakthrough anymore, for her it’s just a matter of can she defend.”
It has been almost 42 years since an Australian player managed to win a singles trophy at the Melbourne event. That was Chris O’Neil back in 1978, who claimed the women’s title as an unseeded player. Expectations are high for Barty to break the drought, however, she has had a far from perfect start to 2020. Losing her opening match at the Brisbane International last week to Jennifer Brady.
“She needs a different mindset maybe,” Federer said.
“But you can really explore all your potential you have.
“That’s what happened when I won my first major and I rose through to world No.1. After that I thought, ‘I’m the guy to beat’. I’d prefer to be in this position than being a contender.
“I hope Ash is also going to see that way.”
Speaking to reporters at a separate press conference on Monday, Barty said she still needs to do more work in order to be a ‘complete player.’ Insisting that her current position at the top of the rankings has no effect on her desire from improvement.
The next test for the 23-year-old is this week in Adelaide where she if the top seed of the women’s draw.
No ATP Cup, no problem
Federer himself enters into the Australian Open with a question mark over his current form. Unlike his rivals on the tour, he opted to skip the inaugural ATP Cup in order to rest and spend more time with his family. The Swiss player also experienced a packed off-season where he played numerous exhibitions across South America and China.
Despite the lack of competitive tennis, the world No.3 is confident that he is in good shape. At the Australian Open he is bidding to win the title for a record-equalling seventh time along with Novak Djokovic. Only once had he lost in the final of the Australian Open, which was against Rafael Nadal back in 2009.
“I’ve trained long and hard in the off-season and I didn’t have any setbacks, which is crucial,” Federer assessed about his current fitness.
“Last week I was asking myself ‘am I happy to go to Australia, or I should rather just stay here and stopping pack immediately? Because I can.
“I could easily just stay home and I was like, ‘no, no, I’m really happy to go to Melbourne and kick off the season there’.
“I have kept myself in good shape, obviously I had an amazing team around me.”
Whilst remaining positive, Federer acknowledges that his quest for grand slam title No.21 will be far from easy. Both Nadal and Djokovic have already displayed glimmers of their best tennis during the ATP Cup. The two also clashed in the final of the tournament on Sunday, which Djokovic won in straight sets.
“Both guys are already showing great signs,” Federer said.
“I was watching a little bit of their ATP Cup match and thought that was a great match.
“Both guys, injury free, are always tough to beat.”
The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th.