Barty’s ab­so­lute be­lief in process

Per­fect prepa­ra­tion and steely re­solve keeps Ash on track

The Weekend Post - - Sport - LEO SCHLINK

IM­MUNE to the ran­cour of Aus­tralian men’s ten­nis, Ash Barty will not de­vi­ate from her process as she chases a maiden grand slam quar­ter-fi­nal against Maria Shara­pova to­mor­row.

Fend­ing off in­jury con­cerns de­spite a mid-match med­i­cal time-out, Barty is de­ter­mined noth­ing – es­pe­cially pol­i­tics – out­side of her con­trol will have any in­flu­ence.

Nor the of­fen­sively loud Shara­pova, whose screech­ing is louder than ever.

“I feel great,” Barty said after ad­vanc­ing to her first Mel­bourne Park fourth round.

“You have to keep giv­ing your­self the op­por­tu­nity to do bet­ter and bet­ter. You have to keep chip­ping away.

“It’s all trust­ing in the process and the work that my team and my­self have done in the pre-sea­son, and through­out the last 18 months, two years.

“We’re con­tin­u­ing to chip away every sin­gle day and get bet­ter as a per­son and as a player every sin­gle day and con­tinue to de­velop my game.

“It’s get­ting to the point now where I’m feel­ing more and more com­fort­able on the court and can play my brand of ten­nis, which when I ex­e­cute I know it works against the best in the world.”

With five ma­jors to her credit, Shara­pova is among the elite – a group many in ten­nis, not only Aus­tralians, be­lieve Barty will even­tu­ally be part of.

“Yeah, it’s an­other op­por­tu­nity for me to go out and test my­self against the world’s best,” Barty said after elim­i­nat­ing Greek Maria Sakkari.

Asked to as­sess her tour­na­ment prepa­ra­tion, she said: “I think more than any­thing it’s just the per­fect prepa­ra­tion.

“There is noth­ing else can get you ready for matches than matches.

“So it was a per­fect prepa­ra­tion through Perth and Syd­ney, and now I come here feel­ing great.

“I feel like I have the matches and ten­nis un­der my belt and now it’s about go­ing out and ex­e­cut­ing on the day against my op­po­nent.”

Shara­pova beat Barty in a tight three-set­ter in Rome last year.

Barty is con­fi­dent a mys­tery in­jury – ei­ther hip flexor or ab­dom­i­nal strain – will not de­rail her .

The 15th seed was re­luc­tant to de­tail the ex­tent of the in­jury, or even iden­tify it, after a med­i­cal time-out in a mea­sured third-round tri­umph.

“No, all good, noth­ing to be con­cerned about,” Barty said when asked about the med­i­cal time-out. “Just mak­ing sure I’m in the best pos­si­ble shape to play and go­ing out there and do my best.

“I think I have just got­ten to know my body well enough now to know when I need a lit­tle bit of help.

“It was more just for a bit of re­as­sur­ance and sup­port.

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