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As you will no doubt already know, Ash Barty won the 2022 Australian Open title. Amazingly, she didn’t drop a set the entire tournament. And having watched many of her matches, I must say, her tennis was seriously impressive. She is the current world number one in the women’s game, and with 3 Grand Slams now in her locker, I really wouldn’t be surprised if she went on to win many more. However, this then leaves us with a bit of a burning question.
Why is Ash Barty seemingly so much better than most other players on the WTA Tour right now? I believe I have a few distinct reasons as to why this is the case, as detailed below.
Barty’s Key Success Ingredients
Barty isn’t what you might describe as your classic, modern-day player. She doesn’t try and blast the ball as hard as possible on her groundstrokes. She isn’t afraid to mix things up and come to the net. And she seems to have her emotions under control at all times. With that said, let’s dive a little deeper now and identify what makes her so special.
The Slice Backhand
Based on what I saw from Barty at the 2022 Australian Open, I witnessed how effective she was using the slice. For me, the slice backhand isn’t used enough in the women’s game. And you could see just how much her opponents were struggling to handle the slice. In most cases, the women’s game involves much flatter groundstrokes than the man. So when Barty is able to knife a slice down low, many players have a hard time whipping the ball back up. She also uses a great combination of a slow slice followed by a big forehand.
While this does involve Barty’s use of the slice backhand, it isn’t solely focused on this one shot alone. In terms of variety, there are a few things that she uses to great effect. Firstly, she doesn’t try and hammer the ball on every shot. She is able to hit flat when necessary, sure, but she can also hit heavy and find angles to work her opponents around the court. Barty also uses the drop shot to great use too. At the Australian Open, I saw that she was able to get her opponents out of position many times using the drop shot.
And once she had dragged them in, she was then easily able to pick off the passing shot. Finally, she has a great kick serve, which many of her opponents struggled with too.
Being able to mix up your shots is one thing. But being able to mix up your shots at the right time is what separates a good from a great player. In the case of Ash Barty, she has a tremendous tennis IQ. This means that she picks the correct shot in most instances. And she also exploits her opponents’ weaknesses very well – something that other WTA players don’t always manage to do.