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January 15, 2022

Ashleigh Barty

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Obviously had a great start to the season, winning a title. How does that help you coming into the first slam of the year?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, I'm excited to be back home in Australia, excited to be back playing. Obviously it was really nice to get a few matches in Adelaide last week and kind of roll on some momentum and know that I'm coming in here playing well, kind of excited to start. Just chomping at the bit to get after it.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What was the decision behind pulling out of Sydney? How much better do you think you feel in terms of rest?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, obviously we played a lot of matches in Adelaide. It was nice to play plenty of singles and doubles. Had a couple days off feeling good. Yeah, after chatting with my team in Adelaide, it was the right decision for us.

Yeah, feeling good coming in.

Q. You're coming in here as the top seed. How much more comfortable are you with that sort of role compared to maybe the first time?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: The role hasn't changed. The comfort level is exactly the same because for me, I'm just being me. That's all I can be. That's all I can ask of myself. It's about going out there and trying to do the best I can each and every match.

I know I say it a lot. Regardless of the number next to my name, that doesn't change the way we approach it. Particularly here in Australia, it's exciting. I get to play in front of incredible fans, my family, which is amazing. It feels like an eternity since I played here at home. It's exciting going into it.

I'm very fortunate and grateful that I'm in the draw and I've got a chance just like everyone else.

Q. At the US Open you were talking about Indian Wells, the rest of the season. What was your thinking to stop your tennis where you did?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, it was a tough decision. It was one that I spoke to my team a lot about. Ultimately I felt like I'd had a fantastic year. I was tired. I knew that for me to give myself the best chance to start well here in Australia was to go home and rest.

I have absolutely no regrets. It was a decision I made for the right reasons for me. Ultimately we had a fantastic year. We were able to come home, do the necessary quarantine that we had to do at that time in early October, then yeah, rest a little bit, catch up with family, start a pre-season again.

Q. Once you made the decision to come straight to Melbourne rather than going to Sydney, what has been the focus of the week?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Very much a relaxed focus for us. There's no need to have any extra emphasis on anything else just because we're leading up to a slam. It's been a very normal week in the sense of doing what we would usually do. Had a couple of extra days off, then back into training in our normal routine. Nothing has changed for us. It is nice to be back here in Melbourne.

Q. What have you learned from the past three years of making the quarters, the semis at the Australian Open that might help you go even deeper?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Each and every match I learn. Every experience I learn from, whether it's good, bad or indifferent. You have to be able to take learnings from every experience. That's certainly been no different here in Australia. I've had some pretty tough lessons, but also some incredible moments. A few stick out in my brain more than others, both the tough ones and the good ones.

I've been so extremely fortunate here in Australia to have had the opportunity to learn so much. Hopefully that puts me in good stead, for another year, another crack here, and we just keep going.

Q. I know your expectations don't change from the hype. Do you understand what it would mean to Australia if someone like you or someone else in the country to end this 44-year title drought?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, I do. I can't do any more than I can try. That's all I can do. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen.

I just have to hope that everyone understands that I'm giving it my best crack. It doesn't always work out exactly how you want to. But you go about it the right way, you do the right things and try and give yourself the best chance, that's all you can do. That goes for all the other Aussies as well, everyone else in the draw. They're trying to do that thing over and over and over, do the right things and give themselves the chance.

Q. Naomi had some positive things to say about you and Tyz earlier. Your thoughts on seeing her back in a good headspace and what makes her such a formidable champion.

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, she's proven time and time again that she is able to perform on the biggest stage. She plays her way. She's dominant. She's been dominant on hard court slams the last few years. It certainly is nice to see her back smiling and enjoying her tennis again.

Yeah, it was different not seeing her week in, week out kind of at the back end of last year. Even though for us personally we only played two or three tournaments in the back half of the year.

Yeah, it is nice to see her back now enjoying her tennis and doing what she does best.

Q. Do you have a tennis bucket list with respect to your career? I'm not going to ask you what's on it, but how far, if you do have something like that, in terms of checking things off?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, a strange one. I think there's probably a difference of the bucket list dreams and the bucket list goals. I think they're two different lists.

For me, it was no secret that Wimbledon was the very top of that dreams list. I have plenty more goals that I set with my team, both the short and the long-term. Some more obscure than others, maybe not so result-dependent.

I felt like over the last three, four, five years, Tyz and I have done an incredible job with our wider team of trying to find ways to tick off those goals, to keep enjoying our journey along the way.

We've, yeah, enjoyed the ride. There are still a few more that remain with a little box that's empty next to it.

Q. Could I ask you about Sam. Obviously set to potentially play her final singles match on Tuesday. What are your thoughts about that? Are you going to be a blubbering mess in the halls of Laver, as well?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Sam, she's an Australian champion, plain and simple. She has set the tone for us Aussies as tennis players for years and years. For her to have an opportunity to go out on her terms is incredibly exciting. I'm so excited for her next chapter, what that brings in her life. I know she's going to continue on with doubles. I think the way she's been able to pave the path and guide so many Australians, so much of the Australian tennis youth, has been nothing shy of remarkable.

She is our champion. We love her to bits. I really hope that she gets to enjoy the experience you said come Tuesday when she's playing.

Yeah, I might actually be glued to that one. I might have to flick on the TV and watch her match. I love watching Sam. I love being around Sam. She's very much going to be sorely missed not just from the Aussies but from the wider tour as well.

Q. We should probably ask you about round one. You have a first match. Not often you come against someone who is a qualifier, but almost top 20 in the past. Your thoughts on that match?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, a tough one. Always a tough one against a qualifier, particularly someone who has been so successful in the past. She obviously knows how to win big matches, is extremely -- she just knows how to play in the big moments. She knows how to navigate and win matches, navigate through some tough times.

Having played quallies over the last week with two or three matches, she's used to the conditions. We've played here before. For me it's about still going out there and trying to play my brand of tennis. I look forward to it come Monday. We go out there and see how we go.

Q. What have been your thoughts over the last several weeks about Peng Shuai and also about what the WTA has done?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I haven't heard a lot more over the last couple of weeks. I know from a tour perspective, certainly from all the players, our message hasn't changed. We hope that she's well. We really do hope that she's well, she's okay, and hopefully we see her back out here soon.

Q. The fact that you would have been a fan early on of Sam, then a teammate, and opponent. You basically answered that question. Sam leaves a magnificent legacy, doesn't she?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: She does. She really does. I remember the first time I hit with Sam, it was here at Melbourne Park. We hit on Show Court 3. I mean, I've been extremely lucky to share some really cool moments over my career with her, and her career as well. I think, like we said, we've played each other, shared probably one of the most exciting Fed Cup ties in Brisbane in our semi. We have memories together that last a lifetime.

More than that, like I said earlier, she's created and paved this path for so many of the Australian youth to come through and be guided by her in a positive way. She is our champion. She is going to be very missed.

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