Ashleigh Barty having Roger Federer-esque impact and can win 10 more Grand Slams – Mats Wilander
"If you’re Naomi Osaka watching this, you’ve got to come out with some serious weapons and variety or you’re not beating Ash Barty. So I think she’s going to push the level up," said Mats Wilander after Barty roared to a first Australian Open title. The 25-year-old is now just missing the US Open from her Grand Slam set, having also won the French Open and Wimbledon.
'She can win 10 more Slams' - Wilander and Henman react to Barty triumph
Despite taking the opening set, it took until Barty was 5-1 down in the second to truly click into action. She reversed a double break as the nerves lifted, displaying the form that catapulted her into the final without dropping a set.
The emotion poured out as she celebrated victory and Australia toasted their first women’s champion since Chris O'Neil in 1978.
“She’s going to take the women’s game to the next level,” continued Wilander.
“Just like Roger Federer did. You would have to come out and beat Roger Federer off the court because he’s going to try and make you feel absolutely miserable. Ash Barty, this is it.
“This was not a great match today, nor was it a bad match. This was Ash Barty to me. And if you’re Naomi Osaka watching this, you’ve got to come out with some serious weapons and variety or you’re not beating Ash Barty. So I think she’s going to push the level up.
“Another thing, I love that she talks about her opponents so much. In the women’s game we’ve kind of gone away from that a little bit and ‘I’m going to play my game’. Ash Barty plays the game that doesn’t suit her opponent and that’s the sign of a great champion to me.”
'Dream come true, I'm so proud to be an Aussie' - Barty in special speech
'Just an insane atmosphere'
Tim Henman praised Barty for handling the immense expectation that came with being world No. 1 at a home Slam.
“With the build-up, Ash has been in Australia for a long period of time, she played the first week of the year, the expectation has grown and grown,” he said.
“With an event like this, two weeks and seven matches, it’s impossible not to be aware of that. She has seemed so cool, calm and collected from the outside. But when you actually saw her win and you saw the emotion going to the box you knew that it was just a big release. I think everyone is just so happy that Ash Barty was able to win today.
Former world No. 7 Barbara Schett was courtside during the final.
“It was an unbelievable atmosphere. During the match, whenever there was a rally, it was so quiet, it was unreal. And then the cheering when Ash won a point and won the match was unbelievable,” said Schett.
“My seat was going up and down and you could really feel the vibration. The Australians are so happy with this victory and how beautiful was the speech from both players – it was very emotional. It was very well deserved and she has written history.
She added: “There were flags everywhere, you saw the Barty t-shirts, you saw the Aboriginal flags. It was just an insane atmosphere.”
Highlights: Barty claims historic Australian Open title with win over Collins in final
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