While newly crowned Australian Open champion Ash Barty popped champagne bottles and posed for happy snaps, her coach delivered a surprise, and sobering assessment of her chances of completing the full set of Grand Slams.
Barty has now won slams on all three surfaces – the Melbourne hard court, Roland-Garros clay and Wimbledon grass.
The only major missing from the world No.1’s resume is the US Open, to be played on the New York hard court in August.
AS IT HAPPENED: Barty clinches glory in Australian Open decider
At Flushing Meadows, the men play with fuzzier, extra-duty balls, while the women compete with traditional, regular-duty balls.
It is thought that the balls used by the women are faster.
“The US Open really needs to change the ball for the girls, the fact they still use a different ball for guys and girls – it’s a terrible ball for someone like Ash,” coach Craig Tyzzer told reporters after Barty defeated American Danielle Collins last night.
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“Even in Cincinnati when they use the US Open ball outside she could actually get some loft out of the court, but the ball itself is so light. It was the only tournament last year and really for two years where she uses a gut racquet, but I had to change her to a poly just to get any sort of control of the ball.
“If they keep that ball the same, no-one like Ash will win that tournament. So I think you see the result at the US Open, it was two players (last year’s finalists Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez) who, you go, ‘wow, that was, two different players won that?’ There’s no surprise when the ball is like it is. And I don’t know the reason why. It’s the only tournament that has separate balls for the guys and girls. So if they don’t change the balls, she won’t win the US Open.”
Regardless, there was no wiping the smile from Barty’s face today as she stepped out at the Royal Exhibition Building with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup in toe.
The night was topped with a surprise from Barty’s hero and mentor, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who presented her with the trophy.
“I had spoken to her earlier in the week and knew that she wasn’t going to be coming to this tournament and to have her surprise me and hand me a beautiful trophy is a moment I will never forget,” Barty said.
“When I was able to see Casey (Dellacqua) and give her a hug was a moment I will never forget either, to see my best mate on court and to be able to give her a hug and share it.”
Despite Tyzzer’s gloomy US Open assessment, Barty’s coach of six years did say her best surface was the hard court.
“I always thought her first win would be, in a Grand Slam, would be on a hard court,” Tyzzer said.
“But typical for her, she proved me wrong and she won on clay first and then grass and then now hard court. Yeah, look, it’s amazing that she’s been able to do it. It’s pretty impressive. I think we’ve all got to sit back and just look at what she’s been able to do on different surfaces and just her ability to play the level of tennis that she does. I mean, sometimes I’m just in awe of it.”
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