Ashleigh Barty was outside the top 250 rankings on the WTA charts at the start of 2017. Today she is ranked 15th in the world after a breakthrough 2018 season and the talk is she is probably ready to win a Grand Slam title come 2019.
According to Tennis Australia’s head of women’s professional tennis, Nicole Pratt, Barty could become Australia’s fourth Grand Slam champion since Pat Cash won his Australian Open title way back in 1987 to win a Grand Slam title.
Pratt, herself a top 40 singles player in the world before retiring from the sport and taking up administration isn’t one used to hyperbole and she believes Barty isn’t too far away from notching up a major title win.
The Aussie made it to the semi-finals at WTA Finals, albeit in doubles but it was an indicator how she has managed to keep both, her singles and doubles play at par with each other. She finished the 2018 season ranked seventh in the doubles rankings.
Pratt said of Barty:
“This year she’s consolidated on the good year she had before, and it’s been even bigger and better. If she wants to put her hand up, which she obviously did to win the championships, I think anything’s possible for Ash next year.”
Interestingly, Pratt also reckons Barty might win the French Open before she wins any other Grand Slam title, despite the latter’s preference for grass and her strength on it. According to Pratt that’s what they joke about and while Barty disagrees, the Tennis Australia chief reckons that is where her best chance might come.
And Pratt’s reasons are quite interesting.
She thinks that Barty might go into Wimbledon with a lot of pressure on her shoulders because that’s where she won her only juniors Grand Slam title. Clay being her least favourite surface might allow Barty to go in without that element, allowing her to play more freely.
Interestingly, Barty’s best singles Grand Slam performance came at the 2018 US Open where she managed to make it to round four. At that very competition, she won the doubles title with Coco Vandeweghe to cement her arrival.
However, with no other singles fourth round entry under her belt, things won’t be easy for the 22-year-old Aussie who will have competition from the likes of Serena Williams, Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki, Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova among others. Think Barty can go all the way in a 2019 Grand Slam competition?