Ashleigh Barty is understandably delighted with life right now. She has just beaten Madison Keys 6-3 7-5 at the French Open to advance to the first Grand Slam semi-final of her career.
The Australian, 23, has also ensured that she will be ranked No.4 in the world or higher when the updated rankings are released next Monday.
“It’s incredible,” Barty said in her press conference. “My team and I have approached this clay court season a little bit differently to others. I have really enjoyed it and embraced it and have been playing some pretty good tennis.”
It is surprising that the Australian’s first appearance in the last four of a Grand Slam will be on clay, but it speaks volumes about the improvements she is continually making.
“Ultimately I feel like when I’m able to play my game and my kind of tennis, I can match it with everyone regardless of what surface it’s on,” Barty said.
Barty thrilled with her progress
The Australian famously took a break from tennis to play cricket in the Women’s Big Bash League with Hobart Hurricanes, but she is delighted with how things have gone since she returned to the sport in 2016.
“It’s remarkable,” she said. “It feels like just yesterday that we started, jumped on the plane to come over here and start again. So much has happened in between.”
Barty continued, “I have grown as a person and obviously as a player. I have had some heart-breaking moments. I have had some amazing moments. But I have enjoyed every single minute.”
“I haven’t had ounce of regret. Coming back was my decision, we did it my way, and it’s paying dividends.”
Barty excited about the state of women’s tennis
Barty is not just excited about her own progress. She recognises the achievements of the other semi-finalists and seems genuinely pleased about how well they are doing.
“It’s amazing for women’s tennis,” she said. “I think the other three girls in the semi-finals are playing incredible tennis. Even though it’s the first time for a few of us, you can’t take anything away from them. They have played amazing tennis.”
The Australian is excited to face Amanda Anisimova in the last four, but she is understandably wary after the American teenager’s stunning win over Halep.
“The way Amanda must have played must have been incredible,” Barty said. “I haven’t seen much of her in general. I haven’t played against her. So it’s a clean slate for both of us and an exciting opportunity for all four of us in the semis.”
‘He Could Become An Excellent Player’ – Remember Roger Federer’s Grand Slam Debut 21 Years Later
More than two decades ago on this day was the start of where it all began for the former world No.1. But what did he and his opponent think about his first match played at a major?
On this day 21 years ago the most decorated grand slam champion in the history of men’s tennis began his major career.
Roger Federer embarked upon the 1999 French Open as the youngest player in the field and yet to break into the world’s top 100. Aged 17, the Swiss player was yet to play in the final of an ATP Tournament and only managed to enter the Roland Garros main draw thanks to a wild card. His opponent was third seed Pat Rafter who at the time was at the peak of his career. The Australian had won back-to-back US Open titles leading up to the tournament.
Undoubtedly the odds were piled heavily against a young and inexperienced Federer, but he still managed to make his mark. Surprisingly taking the first set before Rafter fought back to eventually win 5-7, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2.
“The young man from Switzerland could be one of the people who will shape the next ten years,” the French sports newspaper L’Equipe wrote at the time.
Rafter echoed a similar view to L’Equipe during his post-match media engagements. He went on to become one of the few players to have a perfect winning record against Federer of 3-0. Also defeating him twice during the 2001 season.
“The boy impressed me very much,” he said. “If he works hard and has a good attitude, he could become an excellent player.”
Rafter’s prediction came true but even he at the time didn’t expect the 17-year-old to go on and become one of the greatest. Now Federer holds the records for most grand slam titles (20), most weeks as world No.1 (310) and has won more ATP Awards than anybody else (37). Approaching the age of 39, he remains a prominent fixture in the world’s top 10 18 years on from his debut.
Federer has spoken about his first taste of a grand slam a few times in the past. One of his most notable observations was during a conversation he had with Rafter at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships. When speaking about losing his one set lead, the Swiss maestro said it was partly to do with his mental weakness and showing too much respect to the top guns at the time.
”I was up a set and I was just 17 years old and I wasn’t expected to win,” Federer recounted. ”I think I got broken in the second set and I was like ‘Oh, God, what am I doing?’
”Next thing you know I’m losing 6-3, 6-0, 6-2. It was very mental. I had a lot of respect for the older generation who were already accomplished. Obviously stars like Pat were, for me, people I really looked up to, even though I knew I could beat them. Mentally I was not so solid.”
Rafter has also admitted that his 1999 victory was partly down to the mental weakness of his rival during a 2018 interview with Blick newspaper. However, he blames losing the first set on never playing Federer before.
“I met Roger for the first time at the French Open in 1999. It was his grand slam debut. Since I did not know his game at the time, it took me some time to adjust to him. That’s why I lost the first set,” he said.
“Roger’s biggest handicap was his mental maturity, he was only 17 years old. That was one of the reasons why I came back and win in four sets.”
Whilst the French Open was where it all began for Federer, his record in the major is the worst out of the four grand slams. It is the only one he has failed to win multiple times, claiming his sole title back in 2009. Overall, he has played in the main draw 18 times with a win-loss of 70-17.
How old was the current top 10 when Federer made his grand slam debut?
- Novak Djokovic – 12
- Rafael Nadal – 12
- Dominic Thiem – 5
- Roger Federer – 17
- Daniil Medvedev – 3
- Stefanos Tsitsipas – 9 months
- Alexander Zverev – 2
- Matteo Berrettini – 3
- Gael Monfils – 12
- David Goffin – 8
(numbers in years unless otherwise stated)
‘Global Announcement’ Regarding Revised 2020 Calendar In The Works, Says French Open Chief
Guy Forget has issued an update regarding the current status of the clay-court major.
The governing bodies of tennis are hoping to announce their plans for the remainder of the 2020 season in unison, according to the tournament director of the French Open.
Guy Forget has told French radio station Europe 1 that he is working with the ITF, ATP and WTA on a ‘global announcement’ regarding what the rest of the tennis season would look like when it resumes. All professional events have been either cancelled or suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are hopes that the sport could resume in August, however, there is still uncertainty around the US Open with a final decision set to be made in June.
The uncertainty surrounding Flushing Meadows is also problematic for the French Open, which is set to take just two weeks after the event concludes. Forget has stated that he is working with the USTA to ensure that the two major events do not collide. The French Open had originally planned to start on May 24th before being delayed due to the pandemic.
“The official announcement has not been made yet. It (the French Open) will probably be between the end of September and the beginning of October,” Forget told Europe 1.
“We’ve been working closely with the ATP, the WTA and the ITF to make a global announcement on what the circuit will be like until the end of the year.
“There are so many question marks. The city of New York is more affected by the coronavirus than France. They also have a lot of organisation problems, they will make an announcement mid-June to say how it’s going to be like for the US Open.”
Whilst the USTA is contemplating taking place behind closed doors, Forget is confident that his event will be able to welcome fans in some capacity. At present, France has banned all events that involve 5000 or more people. More than 500,000 tickets were sold for the tournament last year.
“We’ll see how the situation is in a couple of months. We will adapt to what the government will say. We have to be ambitious and optimistic,” he said.
The French Open is scheduled to be held from September 20th until October 4th. Rafael Nadal and Ash Barty are the defending champions in the men’s and women’s draws.
Chances Of Fan-Less US Open Rising Amid Warning From Former Champion Marin Cilic
The former world No.3 believes such a move would devalue the tournament, but it is the best option the USTA has?
The last player outside of the Big Four to win the US Open title believes the motion to play the event behind closed doors will feel like playing practice matches instead of a grand slam.
2014 champion Marin Cilic has voiced his concerns as the United States Tennis Association (USTA) continues to ponder what to do with the major event. All professional tennis tournaments have been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic with officials hoping to restart the Tour in August. However, there are concerns about the chances of the US Open taking place as originally planned due to New York being one of the most affected states in America by Coronavirus. More than 20,000 people have died in New York from the virus.
One option under consideration is hosting the event without any fans due to fears that the venue could become a COVID-19 hotspot with many people gathering in one place. Last year a record 737,872 fans visited the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center over two weeks. Such a move would be a huge financial loss for the organisers, but the event would still be able to go ahead. However, Cilic isn’t convinced that it would be the right move.
“I just feel that it’s going to more or less feel like practice matches,” he said during an interview with Reuters.
“It’s always going to be … in the years to come, ‘oh, you know that guy won a U.S. Open in 2020 without fans’. I don’t think it’s going to have that weight…
“It wouldn’t be the best scenario.”
Whilst it may not be the best scenario in the eyes of Cilic, it does appear that the USTA will be heading in that direction. Earlier this week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo posted a message on Twitter in which he said he is willing to partner with sports teams who will play events without fans. A possible lifeline for the US Open.
“New York State is ready and willing to partner with major sports teams that are interested in playing games safely, without fans. If our professional sports teams can make it work (and be safe) on their end, we’re supportive,” he wrote.
Originally the CEO of the USTA, Mike Dose, said it was ‘highly unlikely’ that the tournament would be played behind closed doors. However, that view has since significantly changed with more now leaning in favour of that option.
Lew Sherr is the Chief Revenue Officer of the USTA. Speaking to The Sports Business Journal, he said he has been surprised by the reception he has received from sponsors over the idea of a no-fan US Open with many viewing it as an historic event.
“Two months ago, it just didn’t feel like you could stage the celebration or the spectacle that is the U.S. Open in a no-fan scenario and have it be what we think of as the U.S. Open,” Sherr said.
“As we’ve gone forward, I’ve come around to recognizing what an achievement it would be to play, and how much our fans are missing the game and would be excited to see the competition, and that you need to think about it differently. It’s a different event. It would be broadcast differently, it would be consumed differently, it’s not just playing the U.S. Open as you know it, with empty seats.”
A final decision on the US Open will be made next month.
Barty’s father said that her daughter was sad and wanted to step away from tennis in 2014
The Tournaments At Stake: Madrid Is A Go, Rome A Definitely Maybe
Tennis Legend McEnroe Ranks Nick Kyrgios Fifth Most Talented Player In Men’s Tennis
Wimbledon Champion Simona Halep Wary About Return To Tour
Juan Martin Del Potro Splits From Coach
‘I Would Put My Life In His Hands’ – Carlos Moya Pays Tribute To Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal Returns To Practice But One Of Them Appears To Have Broken Confinement Rules
Nikoloz Basilashvili Domestic Abuse Case: Extraordinary Claims Emerge From Both Sides
‘It Was Like Being In Prison’ – Serena Williams’ Coach Blasted By Former Player
‘My Body Was Cracking And Popping’ – Danielle Collins Opens Up On Arthritis Diagnosis
Patrick McEnroe speaks to UbiTennis: “Had I beaten John, he would have stopped talking to me!”
(VIDEO) EXCLUSIVE: Jon Wertheim On The Current Status Of Tennis And What Could Happen Next
(VIDEO) Australian Open Day 14: Novak Djokovic Proves He Is Invincible
(VIDEO) Australian Open Day 13: Sofia Kenin Fulfils Childhood Dream In A final Nobody Predicted
(VIDEO) Australian Open Day 12: Dominic Thiem Sets Up Djokovic Showdown
Hot Topics3 days ago
Andy Murray To Return To Action Next Month In Six-Day Tournament Organized By Brother Jamie
Latest news3 days ago
Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Nick Kyrgios and Jannik Sinner set to play in Berlin exhibition tournament
Latest news3 days ago
Injury Scare Fails To Derail Petra Kvitova From Winning ‘Bizarre’ All-Czech Tennis Event
Focus2 days ago
Fabio Fognini To Undergo Arthroscopic Surgery On Both Ankles
Latest news1 day ago
Dominic Thiem organizes Thiem 7 exhibition tournament in Kitzbuhel
Hot Topics18 hours ago
Wimbledon Champion Simona Halep Wary About Return To Tour
ATP19 hours ago
Juan Martin Del Potro Splits From Coach
Latest news19 hours ago
Former No.1 Karolina Pliskova Hits Out At Men Worrying About Equal Pay In Tennis