After a long break from tennis due to concerns over the expanding global footprint of the novel coronavirus, top-ranked Australian Ashleigh Barty is back in the groove.
Barty, who skipped the French Open due to fear of the pandemic, has reunited with coach Craig Tyzzer who was stuck in Victoria after Australia closed all its state borders in view of rising Covid infections.
With eight WTA singles titles to her credit already and a champion at Roland Garros in 2019, Barty will gun for her second Major title at the Australian Open. Barty, who also pulled out of the US Open this year, citing Covid year, has been off top-level tennis since February.
However, the Queenslander is hopeful of getting a feel of things in time for her home Major.
Opening up on how she plans to build her game back to the pre-Covid level, Barty said, “For me, it’s a continuation of what we’ve been working on for the last two years.”
Happy to have returned to training with her coach, Barty said she felt like ‘Tyzzer had never left.’
Sharing her experience of the pandemic, Barty said, “(COVID-19 has been) a massive punch in the face to think about your perspective and to think about the things that really matter to you on a personal level.”
“The most challenging part (of tennis) is that we are never home for more than two or three weeks at a time, so to actually be able to have two or three months off at home (in a) forced break that hopefully becomes a blessing.”
Having been off tennis for a while, Barty faces a tough return to the game as it won’t be easy picking up from where she left off.
Barty said while away from tennis, she was busy cheering on the Australian soccer league side Richmond Tigers from the stands and even dabbled in golf. She was also involved in beach training sessions overseen by tennis legend Patrick Rafter.
“It was really nice, just for a change in scenery … and it was challenging,” Barty said.