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February 13, 2021

Ashleigh Barty

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

A. BARTY/E. Alexandrova

6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Talk us through that match. Tough young opponent, but how do you feel?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, it took some time to adjust, obviously, to get used to her ball, having never played her before, never hit with her. So that was a little adjustment period.

Happy in the end that we were able to bring it back on my terms more often than not.

Q. How does the leg feel? You still have the bandage on. How are things feeling with that?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Feels good. We had to give it time to rest and recover. We are doing all the right things to make it as good as possible. As I said, it's a pretty small tape job that looks a little more dramatic just from wrapping it to try and keep it on.

But, no, good. Felt like it didn't affect me at all today. It won't affect me at all. I'll be ready to go no matter what.

Q. Couple of major points in the second set you were 3-4 down and trying to get back that break, and also at the end of the match playing for the match. Normally at that stage the crowd is going nuts and whatever. Is it easier to concentrate when there is not a large crowd there on those big points?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Doesn't change for me. Obviously tonight was something I have never experienced before. It was new. It was I almost had to cut myself some slack and give myself the time to get used to it and adjust to it. It's fair to give yourself just that few minutes to take it all in and understand what it's about.

From a tennis perspective and the way I go through my routines before the points, how I think about how I want to structure the match, that doesn't change at all. So I think if anything, I was just trying to stay on task, stick to my processes as much as possible and do the right things.

And obviously it is a little bit different with crowds, but something new tonight and a new experience.

Q. You dropped the second set twice last week, you have had a couple of matches now in a row where you've had a little bit of a lapse. Is there any sort of concern there? Something you're looking to address?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I feel like I'm learning on the go. I mean, sometimes you have to give credit to your opponent and understand that they're changing the way they're going to play, as well, make that adjustment after the first set. So far, so good.

It's been a focus of mine to continue to do all the right things regardless of what the score is in the match, regardless of whether I'm a set up or set down, a break up, break down, or anything indifferent. It's about going through all of my processes the exact same, regardless of the score, and making sure that I stick to that.

Q. You have played Shelby twice, beaten her both times, most recently last week, but last week was pretty tight, wasn't it? What are your thoughts going in this time?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: It's always exceptionally tough against Shelby. She's got the ability to take the game away from you, she's got the ability to give you no control out there. And that's something I'm going to have to try and nullify and neutralize as best I can.

You know, at times it will be me scrapping and fighting. Other times I will be trying to take the more aggressive option. Other times, sometimes you have to almost dangle a carrot in a way where you tempt her to try and take some risks. I'll have to do that, try all different things, just as I did last week and just as I've done every time that I've played her.

So we'll have to do the best that we can, but understand that that match is not always in my full control.

Q. The decision with doubles, was that just the case of the best call to manage your workload throughout the rest of the tournament?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Absolutely, yeah.

Q. Obviously people talk about their weapons. Big forehand, big serve. For you the backhand slice. Tell us about it, how much you love that shot.

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, I love it. I've obviously learnt -- learned how to play it when I was quite young. It's always a shot I've enjoyed being able to learn and kind of develop over time where I can maneuver the ball around the court.

That was going to be a big point of difference for me tonight. It was something Tyz and I spoke about, that we were going to go ahead and try to use that slice as often as possible, not only to change up the tempo of the match but also put the ball in different positions.

It's obviously something I love to play around with. At times I overuse it, so it's about getting that balance right, but I felt like tonight it was spot on.

Q. Is it your point of difference, do you feel, on the tour for everyone else?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I think everyone has a unique game, a point of difference, everyone has their own unique style and the way they go about it. But for me, it's a part of my game that I enjoy bringing into the match.

Q. How is your time between matches going to differ in lockdown as in not in lockdown? Relaxation, recreation, things you might go for a wander, into the city, whatever. Is there something different that's going to happen now over the next two days?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: No, not for me. My standard January hibernation, even though we're in February, it's the same thing. Usually for me it's coming in here, doing our work, doing what we need to do on-site, and then once we get home it's either Netflix or a book or watching whatever is on telly. I'm pretty easy to just switch off, so that remains the same regardless for what kind of position we're in at the moment.

Q. You spoke on court about being able to hear the ball pretty clearly tonight without a crowd. Can you explain to a layperson why that's important to a tennis player and what they can learn from that?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: It's not so much hearing the ball better. It's just a different sound, just a different echo. It's not indifferent to when the roof is closed. Often you get a bit of a different echo on the court. But obviously when it's -- you could hear a pin drop in there tonight at times.

So it's kind of a way that you can narrow your focus in to listen to the sound of the ball. I find it a way where I can listen to the spin the opponent is hitting on the ball, the pace it's coming. It's just another way for me to be able to absorb the information quickly, to then adjust and change what I need to in order to try and then put the ball in the position that I want to.

So it was, yeah, a new experience. Like I said, something I had never felt before in a sense of playing a match in those conditions. But, yeah, I felt like we navigated through it quite well.

Q. A question regarding lockdown. How did you find out about the lockdown? At any point have you ever had a doubt of this tournament being canceled or something?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, it's a difficult period for everyone down here. I think as players from the get-go we've had to understand that we're putting the trust in the health professionals, the experts to make the right decisions for the right reasons, and to ensure that it's a safe environment for everyone, not just the players but the spectators and all of those Melbournians down here who have been through such a rough period over the past 12 months.

We put full trust in that. We know we have to prioritize doing the right thing just as everyone else does. That doesn't change regardless of who you are or what you do. You have to abide by those rules. And then hopefully, as the government said, in what, four or five days' time they'll reassess and hopefully it's best-case scenario.

But we all have to do our part to make sure we kind of keep everyone safe and then ensure that the tournament can run safely.

Q. You mentioned you like the silence of the stadium and all the positives about it. Are you excited to have the crowd back in hopefully a few days or do you prefer the arena as it was today?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Oh, no, you always want crowd involved (smiling) 100%. I just enjoyed that it was different tonight, it was a new experience, I enjoyed challenging myself in a new environment. But playing in Australia at home, hopefully in a few days' time there's crowds back again to not only be able to enjoy all the tennis but to enjoy it with us.

For us players, we've been extremely fortunate over the last two weeks to have crowds, which has been obviously over the last 12 months there's been a lot of bubble tennis played and no crowds.

So it's been a real treat and hopefully we get to experience that in a few days' time.

Q. I just wanted to ask you, what kind of emotions did you feel when you won your first-ever WTA title in Kuala Lumpur as a qualifier? What kind of emotion did you have in Malaysia?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: You're diving into the memory bank here. I remember being extremely tired that week, obviously coming through quallies and being able to play a full tournament in doubles, as well. It was an exceptional week, one I have very fond memories of.

Obviously I enjoyed the conditions there. I enjoyed the fact that it was a new challenge. And for me that extra icing on the cake was not only winning my first title but breaking into the top 100 for the first time.

So a very special week and memories that I think of quite often and very fondly of.

Q. I'm curious, of all the players who were in the hotel quarantine, I think the only woman to have made the fourth round out of that group was your former doubles partner Jen Brady. I wonder what you think that says about her, her perseverance and her ability to get through that, and also just maybe the challenge of what all those players faced?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, it's hard for me to comment on how they're feeling or kind of the experiences they went through, not being in the same situation, but just speaking to Jen and obviously practicing with her, I think her perspective on it was amazing.

She did what she could with what she had and came into this event as prepared as she could be. I think just having that mindset and having that positive outlook on it, being accepting of kind of the cards you've been dealt was really important. And she's shown that if you're the ultimate professional and do the things in the way that she's done that's worked for her, everyone has a little bit of a different way of doing it, but it certainly worked for her. She's seeing the ball well, she's hitting the ball well.

Even from our very first hit her first day out, she was crushing the ball and middling them pretty well. She's done the work, gained all of her confidence from the training she's done and now she's enjoying the competition again.

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