Ash Barty to make return to Australian Open as new role comes to light

Ash Barty will be back at Melbourne Park for the 2023 Australian Open - but not in a playing capacity.

Ash Barty, pictured here alongside Olivia Gadecki,
Ash Barty will act as Olivia Gadecki's mentor at the Australian Open. Image: Getty

Rising Aussie tennis player Olivia Gadecki has revealed Ash Barty will be in her camp as a mentor for the upcoming Australian Open. While Barty might not be playing at Melbourne Park this year after retiring from tennis last March, fans will still see her face at the grand slam tournament.

Barty revealed in November that she'd be returning to the scene of her famous triumph in January last year when she became the first Aussie in 44 years to win the Australian Open. However she didn't reveal in what capacity she would be returning.

'NOT GOOD': Rafa Nadal lashes out as Aussies take down Spain

'HURTS TO SEE': Alexander Zverev in brutal scenes at United Cup

On Wednesday, Gadecki revealed to AAP that Barty had agreed to be her mentor during her grand slam debut. Barty has been mentoring Gadecki for several years, with the Queenslanders often hitting together on the Gold Coast.

"I've been really fortunate to always be able to contact her if I have any questions or if I need advice, she's always been there for me," Gadecki told AAP at the United Cup in Sydney. "The best part is she just treats me like a normal person and we can relate in that regard and off court is just as important as on court."

Gadeckli said she'd be leaning on Barty's vast experience of dealing with the pressure of expectation from a young age, as well as the three-time major winner's professionalism. "Just her application. She's just really good at being consistent with everything she goes about," she said.

Olivia Gadecki addresses decision not to get Covid jab

Gadecki's debut at the Australian Open comes 12 months after initially intended. She sat out the entire Australian summer in 2022 after declining to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

That decision came after the 20-year-old had burst onto the international stage with victory over 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin at the Phillip Island Trophy event at Melbourne Park in 2021. She backed up that stunning upset win with a rapid rise up the rankings under esteemed coach David Taylor, who has previously worked with Sam Stosur, Martina Hingis and Naomi Osaka.

"Look, I knew what my decision entailed and just focused on doing the best I could with what I've got and just tried to play the rest of the year," said the now-world No.202, who is one week into a new coaching partnership with Des Tyson. "Last year was a bit tough with injuries. I've been struggling a little bit for the last five or six months.

Olivia Gadecki, pictured here before her clash with Jessica Bouzas Maneiro at the United Cup.
Olivia Gadecki looks on before her clash with Jessica Bouzas Maneiro at the United Cup. (Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images)

"I did my ankle and left hand but it's a long journey and one year (of disruptions) is not going to make a massive difference. I'm looking at the positives. I'm fortunate enough to be given the opportunity of playing main-draw Australian Open, which has been a dream of mine from a very young age.

"I know I can play at a top level but I'm just looking at all the little things I have to do well to get there. I'm just looking to enjoy the experience and hopefully get a couple of matches under my belt."

Gadecki will play at next week's Hobart International in her final tune-up before the Australian Open.

with AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.