It’s been two weeks since Ashleigh Barty clinched a historic Australian Open title in Melbourne and her fellow players are still in awe of the manner in which she pulled it off.
Barty ended Australia’s 44-year wait for a home singles champion at the tournament and clinched her third major crown without dropping a set.
The Queenslander was broken just three times throughout the entire fortnight, and lost a mere 21 games en route to the final before defeating Danielle Collins 6-3 7-6(2).
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The world No 1 currently owns an 11-0 win-loss record this season and her complete and versatile game has separated her from the rest of the pack.
“I said the other day to my coach when she won the tournament, I was like, ‘she's very good, but I want to play against her again. I want to see how it feels’,” Spanish world No 5 Paula Badosa told reporters at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Sunday.
“She makes everything easy. Tough matches, she makes it easy. I'm just watching and watching her. It's amazing. For me she's very similar on the male side with (Roger) Federer.
“She does everything, like, with a lot of flow and very easy. But, yeah, I think she's the target for everyone.”
Badosa is one of just four women who have managed to defeat Barty in a completed match over the past 11 months and says the Australian’s consistency is unmatched.
“She's the best and she's showing that she's the best every tournament. It's unbelievable,” added the Spaniard.
Former world No 1 Garbine Muguruza congratulated Barty on a well-earned title triumph in Melbourne and is particularly impressed by how well the 25-year-old has handled her status as the tour’s leading lady.
Since rising to the summit of the rankings for the first time in June 2019, Barty has spent a total of 115 weeks as the world No 1 – a stretch that was briefly interrupted by Naomi Osaka for just four weeks.
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Muguruza, who spent four weeks as the tour’s world No 1 back in 2017, once described occupying the top spot like “having an alarm all the time”. She felt she constantly had to defend her position, which is why she holds so much respect for how calmly Barty has maintained her grip on the summit.
“I'm very happy for her,” two-time major champion Muguruza said ahead of her title defence in Dubai this week.
“I think that she's showing a very composed No 1 and very solid...tennis-wise we all see she's very talented; but she's taking it in a very mature way, very stable. Sometimes it's difficult for all this pressure, being at home. Yeah, I’m happy. I think she deserved it.”
After losing to Barty in the Australian Open semi-finals last month, Madison Keys said she felt like the Aussie has set an incredibly high benchmark that everyone else is trying to reach.
Reigning French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova agrees. The Czech world No 3 says she is trying to emulate Barty and is full of admiration towards her.
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“It was amazing. I was watching the finals. I think it's really good for her. I really admire her because she is a really good girl, nice girl off the court, but also on the court she is a very tough opponent,” said Krejcikova.
“I think for most of us, for most of the girls, I think she can be a good example to get higher, to finally try to beat her.
“I think she deserves it. She works really hard. She belongs where she is right now.”
World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka owns a 4-4 record against Barty and has squared off with her in three big showdowns last year, losing to her in the Miami quarter-finals and the Stuttgart final before getting her revenge over the Queenslander in the Madrid title decider.
“She’s amazing and she deserves it. She fights really hard and her game is really uncomfortable for most of the girls and she uses it really well. So she deserves it,” said Sabalenka of her familiar foe.
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