'More of a weapon': Ash Barty's major warning to US Open rivals

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Ash Barty's (pictured) coach believes her serve could be her secret weapon to clinching a maiden US Open title. (Getty Images)
Ash Barty's (pictured) coach believes her serve could be her secret weapon to clinching a maiden US Open title. (Getty Images)

World No.1 Ash Barty made a huge statement winning the Southern & Western Open last week and many have pointed out her under-appreciated weapon to success for her US Open campaign.

Barty won the Cincinnati Open last week without dropping a set and many of her opponents praised the 166cm-tall Aussie's pinpoint serving as a key to her success.

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And master coach David Taylor also believes Barty's supreme serving makes her the Open favourite over two-time champion, titleholder and his one-time charge Naomi Osaka.

And Barty's numbers in 2021 are amazing.

Barty leads the tour's ace count (297), serving points won (64.2 per cent), service games won (81.3 per cent) and first-serve points won (74.9 per cent).

Perhaps most tellingly, as clutch as they come, Barty also leads the break-points saved category (65.3 per cent).

Barty revealed last year how her childhood coach Jim Joyce drilled into her from an early age the importance of mastering the serve.

"It's something that we work on every day knowing it's a shot for me that can put me in control of the point," she told AAP.

Ash Barty's opponent's praise her serve

Barty's coach isn't the only one on Tour recognising the World No.1's under-appreciated weapon.

Opponent Angelique Kerber was one to praise the diminutive Aussie's secret weapon after losing to Barty in Cincinnati.

"You know, I think she has so much confidence right now," Kerber said after the match.

"She plays so well, and she served good. I think this is also a big weapon from her.

"You know, she's just playing really like tricky, as well."

Angelique Kerber (pictured right) shakes hands with Ash Barty (pictured left) at the Southern & Western Open.
Angelique Kerber (pictured right) praised Ash Barty's (pictured left) serve as one of her best weapons right now. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

And coach Taylor echoed Kerber's thoughts that Barty's strike rate of saving break points, tactical nous - which he declared unrivalled - and ice-cool temperament are what separates the World No.1 from the rest.

"It's the sign of a great player," he said of the Wimbledon champion's ability to land a free point when under pressure.

"If Ash is serving well, I would consider her the US Open favourite over Naomi for sure.

"But also because of her consistency throughout the year in big matches.

"That's got a lot to do with winning grand slams and it's pretty clear who is the player of the year thus far."

Ash Barty (pictured) serves against Jil Teichmann of Switzerland during the women's singles finals of the Western & Southern Open.
Ash Barty's (pictured) serve could be her key to success at the US Open. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Barty, who opens her campaign against 2010 finalist Vera Zvonareva on Wednesday AEST, enters the season's last slam fresh off her tour-topping fifth title of the season in Cincinnati.

"Unfortunately for Ash at the French, who knows what would have happened there for her as well if she didn't get injured," Taylor said.

"For a girl who loves being in her home environment, a girl who doesn't play that many weeks because she loves the home life so much, to go away and spend the whole year away from home and still produce week in, week out is amazing.

"What she's doing out of her comfort zone, being so long away from home, it's phenomenal."

Ash Barty lauds Naomi Osaka's hard court game

With four hardcourt majors, including two US Opens, Osaka shapes as Barty's chief title threat if she can overcome the mental demons that forced her withdrawal from Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

"Naomi is a pure ball-striker," Barty said.

"When she has time to set up particularly after her first serve, she's one of the best first-serve, first-strike players I've ever come up against.

"On a hardcourt, there's not a lot of variation on the bounce. She can set up, trust the bounce and really swing through the line.

"That's what makes her so damaging on these courts."

with AAP

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