Australia’s Barty seeks first title in Melbourne

World No. 1 Barty chases another first in Aussie Open

Ashleigh Barty

She’s a two-time Grand Slam champ and has been World No. 1 for more than 100 weeks. But an Australian Open singles title has persistently eluded this native daughter.

Ashleigh Barty, this is your time.

As the tennis year’s first major kicks off Sunday, Jan. 16, and airs on ESPN and ESPN2, the 25-year-old product of Ipswich on the continent’s east coast sits at the top of the ladies rankings thanks to a stellar 2021 season in which she ran up a 42-8 record with five WTA titles, including her second Slam at Wimbledon.

At Melbourne, she’s reached at least the quarterfinals the past three years with a semifinal appearance in 2020. She appeared on her way to a title last year when she opened her quarterfinal match in dominant fashion by drubbing Karolina Muchova in the first set 6-2. She was up 2-1 in the second when Muchova used an injury time out to regain her bearings.

When play resumed 10 minutes later, the Czech looked like a completely different player, reeling off 11 of the next 15 games to win 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 and sending Barty packing and out of her home Slam. Muchova would then go on to lose in the semifinal to Jennifer Brady, who herself would fall to eventual champ Naomi Osaka in the final.

Barty is only the second Australian woman to be World No. 1 after Evonne Goolagong Cawley. If she wins this year’s tournament, she’d cement that laurel and be the first Aussie woman since Christine O’Neil in 1978 to take the title at Melbourne.

Player Profile

Name: Ashleigh Barty

Birth date: April 24, 1996

Birthplace: Ipswich, Queensland, Australia

Height/weight: 5 feet 5 inches/137 pounds

Residence: Ipswich

Family ties: Is engaged to Australian golfer Garry Kissick; father is a government employee, mother a radiographer; two older sisters

Career singles record: 294-102

Honors and achievements: Wimbledon singles title (2021); French Open singles champion (2019); U.S. doubles champion (2018); World No. 1 (since September 2019); has 13 WTA and four ITF titles; in doubles has a 197-64 record with with 11 WTA and nine ITF championships; career earnings over $21 million

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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