Ash Barty hungry for more than top 10
TYPICALLY low key, Ash Barty said her rise to become Queensland's latest top-10 tennis player yesterday felt "bloody good'' but warned she was not satisfied.
A bashful smile took a few seconds to tease out on the face of Barty - the young woman once so worn down by the tour at 18 that she stepped off it for 14 months - after she clinched her Miami Open quarter-final.
The win ensured no player at this tournament ranked lower than her 10th spot on live rankings could overcome the points buffer which she holds ahead of the next list, to be published on Monday.
Three years and two months after Barty had her first meetings to plot out a return to tennis, she cracked the top 10 for the first time.
Barty, ranked 11th, won her first match in five encounters against dual Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-2, with her fitness and variety of game again a feature.
Her lack of immediate celebration owed as much to her respect for Kvitova's breathing difficulties as the third set finished in an avalanche as to her natural inclination to seek an even keel.
Dual Davis Cup winner Todd Woodbridge last night declared the 22-year-old was now the "best all-round player in women's tennis'' and a frontline contender for a Grand Slam title.
"(It feels) bloody good. Top 10 has been a goal of mine,'' Barty said in Miami.
"It's amazing what happens when you put your hopes and dreams out into the universe and do the work.
"But there is still a long way to go, and I'm not satisfied. I'm still hungry to get better as a person and as a player. If that means that the ranking gets higher and higher, that's pretty cool.''
Barty was treated for depression in her late teens and needed space at home in 2015 before concluding she did want a tennis career, a decision her mother Josie called "the best'' of her life.
Her father Robert said last night that he, Josie and daughters Sara and Ali were "so proud of Ash and everything she has achieved''.
"Reaching the top 10 is a wonderful milestone and something Ash has worked hard for,'' he said. "The thing we are most proud of, though, is the way Ash conducts herself and treats others, in tennis and in life."
The Ipswich stylist is the first Australian in six years to be ranked in the top 10 in singles.
"The variety in Ash's game is making her watched all around the world now - I think the best all-round player,'' Woodbridge said.
Barty's Miami semi-final opponent is Anett Kontaveit, the 21st seed.
During her time away from tennis Barty played for the Brisbane Heat WBBL team in 2015-16. Yesterday she declined to speak about it.