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January 19, 2022

Ashleigh Barty

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference


6-1, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Another businesslike win for you today. How did you feel on the court?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, I felt good. I felt like I wanted to try to use my experience a little bit today, get off to a quick start. I felt like I was able to do that. I served well. I was able to find plenty of forehands and control the match quite well, so pleased with that one.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You said before the summer you worked on a lot of aspects of your game. How much specifically did you work on your serve? It's been phenomenal. Have you gone to another level, done anything technical at all?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: No, not really. Just continually trying to try and make it a weapon. I'm not the biggest girl out there, but I know I've got a sound technique and I know if I can get my rhythm right and use it effectively, it can be a weapon.

I think Tyz and I put a lot of emphasis on my serve, I always have as a kid. I was always serving baskets and baskets of serves to try to create that weapon, try to create a really sound shot. I think I've just been able to find some good rhythm and a big part of that is protecting my second serve when I need to do as well. I thought I've done a pretty good job of that over the last half dozen matches or so.

Q. Can you give us any sort of number?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Everyone is a little bit different. I think obviously when you're a young kid, you can't just be hitting hundreds and hundreds of servers. For me it was always a standard end to our session, 15, 20 minutes working on serves. Not always hitting hundreds, but chatting about it, trying to understand how to hit different serves, trying to understand how to make it a weapon. It's always been a massive focus for me.

Q. People get carried away with how fast someone can thump a serve. Are there more important attributes to serving? What do you think is the most critical element of it?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, well, I think for me it's serving to set up the next shot that I want. It's not always trying to hit it as hard as I can. Rarely am I redlining, hitting a serve as hard as I can. It's more about the placement, thinking about what kind of return I'm going to get to try to set up the rest of the point.

It's the one shot in tennis that you have full control over. That's how you get to start the point. It's more about trying to start it on my terms as regularly as I can.

Q. You've had these introductions walking on court 50,000 times. Does it still give you goosebumps when you hear a crowd roar the way they did today?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, it was incredible. To be honest, the crowd was a lot bigger than I thought I saw. I mean, I'd watched a little bit of the match before just keeping an eye on the score. Yeah, it was an awesome surprise to go out there and hear so many Aussies. It was an incredible atmosphere. It was just a lot of fun out there today.

Q. How did it feel today for you being out there in what I believe was the Australian Open's first First Nations Peoples Day?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, it was really cool. It was nice for me to be a part of it in a way that I feel most comfortable I suppose. Out on the tennis court is how I express myself as an athlete, it's how I'm able to express myself as a person as well.

On a day we're bringing cultures together, bringing people together, it was really nice for me to go out and enjoy that. Just met a few of the kids that have come down from Alice Springs and all around Australia, which is amazing for them to come and experience the Australian Open on a really special day for our culture and our heritage.

I think the site looks great. The artwork. All the experiences you could do today looked amazing. It was great for me to be able to play a small role in that playing my role, doing what I love. I was really fortunate to be able to play today.

Q. There's no place like home you mentioned. It has been mentioned online about the Ruby slippers, the red sneakers.

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I haven't seen that (smiling).

Q. You've gone with the Disney thing before. Are people reading too much into that? Is there something we don't know about?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Geez, clutching at straws, aren't you guys (smiling)?

No, I mean, red shoes go faster, right? That's the whole thing behind it.

No, I was excited. I love the outfit I'm in in Fila this year. The red shoes are cool. Not often am I one to wear bright shoes, but no, they're pretty cool this year.

Q. What sort of challenge does Camila pose next match?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Some very different challenges to what I've had the last couple matches. She has the ability to hold baseline, to control the center of the court, be super, super aggressive off her serve and first shot, particularly off her return.

It's going to be a match where I'm going to have to serve well, bring in variety, make sure I can cover the court, neutralize the best that I can. She has the ability to hit you off the court without realizing it's happening.

I think it's going to be another match with some fresh challenges. But having played her before, she kind of knows my game, I kind of know hers. It's about going out there and trying to do it as good as I can.

Q. (No microphone.)

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I mean, yeah, I remember the matches that I've played against her. Not in great detail. I kind of know how they went.

Yeah, a lot of the time the match isn't on my racquet, to be completely honest. I have to be able to neutralize and be aggressive when I can, but also be able to accept the fact that not always am I going to have it on my terms. That's an important part of our matchup. I just get on with it and try to bring it back to my tennis as regularly as I can.

Q. How much have COVID protocols affected you? A lot of players have routines, restaurants they like to go to. Has it affected you?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: My routine, I'm a hermit. It doesn't affect me too much. Yeah, I mean, for us it's pretty low-key. We come and practice and do what we need to do. Otherwise a good book and a coffee and I'm set.

Q. What are you reading at the moment?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Actually reading 'I am Pilgrim' at the moment. A bit of a switch-off, a bit of a novel, but yeah, it's good.

Q. The situation with Peng Shuai, how concerned are you about the situation there and also how important you think it is for the tennis community to keep putting pressure on China to prove she is safe and well?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, I think the tennis community has come together. Obviously we're all looking out for her safety. We all hope that she's well. We hope that she's doing okay. Hopefully it's not too long until we see her back out here.

Q. Are you concerned that there is something sinister at play here?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I've got no idea. Without the information, I can't answer that question.

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