Australian Open 2021 - Forehand and 'tennis IQ' could be key to Ash Barty run in Melbourne
The world number one moved into the quarter finals of the first Grand Slam of the year with a 6-3, 6-4 straight sets victory over Shelby Rogers. Barty is attempting to become the first Australian singles title winner at the Australian Open since Chris O'Neil in 1978 and is in good shape having not dropped a set so far in the tournament.
Australia's Ashleigh Barty hits a return against Shelby Rogers of the US during their women's singles match on day eight of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne
The world number one secured her place in the final eight of the first Grand Slam of the year with a straightforward 6-3 6-4 win over her American opponent who just couldn’t live with the variety of the Australian.
Mats Wilander highlighted in the Eurosport Cube after the match how Barty’s ability to change up her forehand give her a tactical flexibility unmatched in the women’s game right now.
“She serves well and then 90% of the time she hits a forehand after the first serve is in play,” Wilander said.
We talk about her weakness being her backhand so much that we forget how good her forehand is. I’m not sure there is a better forehand in the women’s game.
We forget how good Barty's forehand is - Wilander
“She can spin it. She can hook it short cross-court and she can flatten it out. The variety on the forehand is so good compared to the other women. The tactical skills of Barty is second to none.”
Mischa Zverev also spoke about the match intelligence of the number one seed who always looked in control against Rogers despite a wobble towards the end of the match which saw her broken at the first attempt to serve it out.
“Her tennis IQ is so high,” Zverev explained. “When she hits the ball she already knows what she wants to do with it and she knows what the answer is going to be from the opponent.
“She’s always thinking three, four steps ahead and she has the game to use all the different shots. She’s a pretty complete player.”
Highlights: Barty too good for Rogers as home favourite moves on
Barty won her maiden Grand Slam title on the clay courts of Roland Garros in 2019, but Zverev views the hard courts at Melbourne Park as the surface the world number one looks most comfortable on.
“At the moment, I would say so because she can move very well and she can read the game,” Zverev replied when asked whether this was Barty’s best surface.
“So even if she feels like she’s a little late or behind she can cover it with her eyes because her anticipation is incredible.
“She also has that heavy forehand which after the bounce the ball just accelerates so much more. She can still hit a heavy top spin winner and make it look really, really effortless.”
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