'She's found herself': Tennis legend's scary call on Ash Barty

Once dubbed the next Martina Hingis, Ashleigh Barty has now won over the Swiss Miss with the classy old-school game that has propelled the Australian to the summit of women's tennis.

Former Australian Fed Cup captain David Taylor, one of the most respected coaches in the sport, first likened Barty's cunning court craft to Hingis' some six years ago but cautioned against overburdening the precocious teenager with expectations.

‘I’M GUTTED’: Andy Murray forced out of Australian Open

‘NOT THAT EASY’: Sam Stosur's major warning for Ash Barty

Taylor's concerns were realised several months later when Barty walked away from tennis before embarking on a spectacular comeback in 2016.

Hingis, who won the first of her 20 grand slam doubles crowns as a 15-year-old before claiming the Australian Open singles title at 16, has monitored Barty's career closely, aware of the comparisons and understanding of the Queenslander's journey.

Ash Barty has often been compared to tennis great Martina Hingis. Pic: Getty

"I watched her when she was 16 coming on tour, or 15 when she got the wildcard into the Aussie Open," Hingis told AAP.

"At that time, I guess, it was all overwhelming and I can understand that. When you're from Australia and you miss home, it's a long way away.

"I was lucky enough to have my family with me - my mother and (manager) Mario (Widmer), we all travelled together and we didn't really miss home.

"It's really difficult for an Australian player when you're really young to do all this and go through all of that."

Hingis believes Barty's sabbatical was the making of the now-French Open champion and world No.1.

in"Since she's been away and become No.1 and won a slam, she doesn't have to prove anything to anybody," said the five-times major winner.

"Now you just feel like she's out there because she loves it and loves what she's doing and that's why she's had this success.

"Before maybe it was 'okay, I'm playing for someone else or because of someone else'."

Gushing in her praise of Barty's game, Hingis said the 23-year-old's style was a breath of fresh air for tennis.

Hingis in awe of Barty’s ‘fluidity’

"There's a lot of things she does that's really great, what I love about her game is just her fluidity," Hingis said.

"I think before she had all the shots but didn't always use the right things at the right time, which was good enough in juniors.

2019 represented the best year of World No.1 Ash Barty's career. Pic: Getty

"But now I think she's kind of found herself. She's grounded now and she knows what she wants and I just love the variety about her game.

"She has all the shots and the repertoire is so big and again you can call her game tennis. It's not just boom boom and full power.

"She's got that too - obviously - she's a very strong girl - but she's also got a different style to what we've probably seen in the last 10 years."

Hingis completed an Australian Open title hat-trick during a run of six successive finals in Melbourne between 1997 and 2002 and believes Barty as top seed in 2020 is equipped to handle the home-town hype and pressure.

"She's going through that right now so I think she knows it best.

You need a great support team. That's really important," said the former world No.1.

"Now that she's a bit older - I mean I was 16 thrown into it - so it was a bit different."

AUSTRALIAN SUMMER OF TENNIS:

ATP Cup, Brisbane and Perth, Jan 3-8; Sydney, Jan 3-12

Format: teams event; men's singles and doubles

Prize money: $US15 million ($A22.27 million)

Drawcards: Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Alex de Minaur, Nick Kyrgios, Denis Shapovalov (Brisbane), Rafael Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut, Matteo Berrettini, Fabio Fognini, Daniil Medvedev (Perth), Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin (Sydney)

Brisbane International, Jan 6-12

Format: women's singles and doubles

Prize money: $US1.5 million ($A2.23 million)

Drawcards: Ashleigh Barty, Karolina Pliskova, Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina, Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, Samantha Stosur, Ajla Tomljanovic

Defending champion: Karolina Pliskova

Adelaide International, Jan 11-18

WTA International Hobart

Format: men's and women's singles and doubles

Prize money: $US1.39 million ($A2.06 million)

Drawcards: Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Kiki Bertens, Johanna Konta, Sofia Kenin, Alison Riske, Sloane Stephens, Danielle Collins

Hobart International, Jan 13-18

Format: men's and women's singles and doubles

Prize money: $US251,750 ($A374,000)

Drawcards: Elise Mertens, Alize Cornet, Caroline Garcia, Elena Rybakina, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Samantha Stosur

Defending champion: Sofia Kenin

Australian Open, Melbourne, Jan 20-Feb 2