Ashleigh Barty has been lauded as an “upgraded version” of Martina Hingis as she prepares to enter a landmark 100th week as women’s world No 1.
Only seven other women - Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, Chris Evert, Hingis, Monica Seles and Justine Henin – have spent 100 or more weeks at the top of the WTA rankings since they were introduced in 1976.
Although Barty appears unlikely to play again this season she is set to hold the No 1 ranking as she has nearly a 2,000-point lead over world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka.
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Former Australian Fed Cup captain David Taylor thinks Barty will stay at the summit for some time yet.
“She's so well-rounded. So tactically aware. Serve, forehand. There's not a lot of weaknesses in Ash's tennis and, if you look at the great No 1s, they're all well-rounded like that," Taylor told AAP.
"In this time where the women's tour has a lot of different grand slam winners, she's definitely brought some consistency to the No 1 spot."
Taylor has coached several top-20 women’s players, including former world No 1s Hingis and Ana Ivanovic. He was part of Hingis’ coaching team when she reached the 1999 French Open final and says Barty is better than the five-time Grand Slam champion.
She's like an upgraded version. Still to this day, of the people I've coached, Martina was the most amazing how she could walk off the court and dissect a match with the clarity of a coach, an onlooker. And the only other person I've ever taught who had first-hand knowledge of that was when you talk to Ash about tennis. Like, she understands tennis. She's by far the best tactician on the women's tour. She's so good at that.
"So (Ash has) the analytical skills of Hingis and also the variety but a better serve, obviously, than Martina and she's able to subdue the power of her opponents, which Hingis did well. Ash is an improved version of Martina because she's got a better serve, probably a better slice backhand so definitely that style of tennis but upgraded."
Taylor also likened Barty to another Swiss legend, Roger Federer, for her all-round play and tactical ability.
"She's got so many ways," he said. "You look at Roger, he can tactically win with such an array of tactics and having coached on the WTA Tour for so long, you're often left with quite a very narrow set of tactics for most of your players on there.
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"With Ash, she's dangerous on all surfaces, which she's obviously already proven, and she's won the two biggest Grand Slams on the most contrasting surfaces so she's got a lot of ways to win matches. Definitely has a lot of massive problem-solving abilities and tactically can put girls in such challenging situations because of the breadth in her game.
"She's the best player in the world. I'm stating the obvious but she really is the best tennis player, not just the best ball striker. No doubt the player of the year. The WTA has a lot of great ball strikers but she's a great tennis player and that's the big difference."
Barty has won five titles this season, including the second Grand Slam of her career at Wimbledon.
However, she is not playing at Indian Wells this week and appears unlikely to contest the WTA Finals after they were moved to Mexico due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most weeks as women’s No 1 since 1976
1 Steffi Graf (377)
2 Martina Navratilova (332)
3 Serena Williams (319)
4 Chris Evert (260)
5 Martina Hingis (209)
6 Monica Seles (178)
7 Justine Henin (117)
8 Ashleigh Barty (99)
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