In the days after Ash Barty walked to the middle of Court Philippe Chatrier and retired hurt from the second round of the French Open, she sat down with coach Craig Tyzzer, physiotherapist Mel Omizzolo and physical performance specialist Matt Hayes.
Barty’s message to her team was clear. She would do whatever was required to take her place at the top of the women’s singles draw at Wimbledon in just over three weeks.
Ash Barty had just over three weeks to recover from her hip injury suffered at the French Open.Credit:Getty, Getty
But still she couldn’t serve. It took another six days of treatment before she felt comfortable enough to begin serving.
And another few days before she could really ramp up the intensity. Just five days before opening day at the All England Club, Barty had enough confidence in her body to treat practice as she typically does – at full speed.
She wasn’t nervous about starting Wimbledon without any warm-up tournaments. She had enough belief in her game to know that, at her best, she could progress deep into the second week.
While she had hit almost every target on her way to the first round, Barty still had reservations when she stepped foot on Centre Court to face Carla Suarez Navarro.
Practice makes perfect … Ash Barty on the practice courts at Wimbledon.Credit:Getty
“For my team and myself, there was a sigh of relief after that first round that I pulled up well. I was sore, very sore,” Barty said.
“But I was healthy. That was a massive one. We just didn’t know. You never quite know with the body how it’s going to respond with serves, with adrenaline and the way that you play. Matches are obviously very different to practice so we just weren’t sure.
“We just had to trust that we had done everything we possibly could and then it was about playing with freedom to be as natural on the court as possible.”
Barty’s recovery stunned her team. To play the match of her life against Angelique Kerber in the semi-final just one month after she could barely serve is extraordinary, according to Crowe.
There were moments through the last three weeks where Tyzzer didn’t think Barty would even reach the starting line in London.
Ash Barty celebrates after defeating Angelique Kerber in their semi-final.Credit:AP
“No, probably not. Probably not overly confident,” Tyzzer said when asked if Barty was ever a certainty to play her first round match.
“It was more hopeful and just the fact that okay she could start and be injury-free. As I said, I felt she was underdone tennis-wise and not knowing how she was going to come out and play.
“Wimbledon, the first few days is really different anyway because it’s so slow and the grass is so thick and long so it’s a different ball game anyway.
“So even those who come in with a bit of form off the other grass courts find it difficult to front up and then play on a surface that’s different that you’ve been playing on.
“So I felt if she got through the first couple of matches that she’d start to grow in confidence in her body and then also in the way she was playing.”
The confidence has grown to the point where Barty will start a short priced favourite to win her maiden Wimbledon title on Saturday night (AEST).
In her final post-match press conference at Roland Garros, Barty was sure a silver lining would come from her withdrawal.
Like the team around her, Barty was spot on.
“Not every day is flowers and roses, is it. But I think Paris was a really challeng ing two or three weeks for myself and for my team this year,” she said.
“After Paris, we said there was going to be a silver lining. We weren’t sure what it was going to be but it was going to rear its head at some stage
“For us, this week and this fortnight of experience and enjoyment has been the silver lining. I get to play in a Wimbledon final on Saturday and the last six or eight weeks, we’ve had ups and downs and we’ve had different challenges but I wouldn’t change a thing.
“Every experience we’ve learned from and I think being able to enjoy this fortnight here at Wimbledon has been incredible.”
Catch Ash Barty in the women’s singles final at Wimbledon with every match of the tournament streaming live and ad-free on Stan Sport with select games on 9Gem.
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