“Too Far Behind”: Former Champion Has Bold Advice for Ashleigh Barty at Wimbledon Championships 2021

Published 06/22/2021, 8:12 AM EDT
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 1, 2021 Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in action during her first round match against Bernarda Pera of the U.S. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes


Women’s World No.1 Ashleigh Barty will be carrying Australian hopes at Wimbledon Championships on the golden jubilee of the incredible singles title double by compatriots and stalwarts John Newcombe and Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

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And before she enters the All England Club as the top seed, Newcombe said he is convinced that the 25-year-old has all it takes to be the third woman from her country after the legendary Margaret Court and Goolagong to lift the championship title on the hallowed lawns. However, the three-time Wimbledon champion advised his fellow Aussie to trust her net game as it is guaranteed to bring her wholesome dividends on grass.

Diffidence in approaching the net hurt Ashleigh Barty at 2019 Wimbledon: John Newcombe

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Citing her fourth-round defeat to American Alison Riske in 2019 despite being the top seed, Newcombe was precise in his assessment of where Barty lost out then and how she can go all the way this time.

He said she sat too deep behind the baseline in 2019 while her opponent forayed into the net, pinning her back and profiting big time.

“She was playing too far behind the baseline and the girl she was playing, Riske, she was getting into the net on Ash and she just had her pinned back and Ash never looked like she was going to win,” Newcombe said.

He added that it was an aspect of Barty’s game that has stayed with her across tournaments of late.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 1, 2021, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in action during her first-round match against Croatia’s Bernarda Pera REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

The legend says she is not nearly as menacing when she falls back on defense instead of taking the attack to her opponent.

Newcombe expects Barty to come out firing on all cylinders on grass this year

“It’s the same when Ash plays in all of her matches. I find that if she hangs back behind the baseline and plays her defense game, it’s not nearly as good,” Newcombe said.

He added that though Barty has the slice backhand in her repertoire, which is an effective weapon on any surface, especially grass, hitting it from deep behind the baseline doesn’t make it half as effective as executing the shot a few centimeters from the net.

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“She hits a lot of slice backhands and a slice backhand from two meters behind the baseline is useless. If you’re going to play slice, you’ve got to be in or on the baseline or just behind it, and when she does that, her whole game lifts up,” Newcombe said.

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He added that he expects Barty to come out with positive intent at Wimbledon this time and take the attack to her opponents.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

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Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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