Ash Barty Tigers Footy Jumper
Ash Barty Tigers Footy Jumper

Revealed: Why Barty texted Cotch about Grand Final wins

As a reigning grand slam champion, Ash Barty occupies a rarefied space.

There is no instruction guide, simply instinct.

Since winning the French Open almost a year ago, a triumph that snapped Australia's 46-year drought at Roland Garros, Barty has wrestled with a dilemma - whether to watch a replay of the match or not.

In regular contact with fellow major winners Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova, Barty eventually turned to Richmond captain Trent Cotchin for advice.

Barty's memory of a searing 70-minute, 6-1 6-3 demolition of Czech Marketa Vondrousova is a "blur".

Sidelined indefinitely at home in Ipswich because of coronavirus and her No.1 reign frozen because of the crisis, Barty was curious to understand if Cotchin had watched replays of the Tigers' 2017 and 2019 AFL Grand Final victories.

"I actually texted 'Cotch' and was chatting to him about the 2017, 2019 Grand Finals to see if he had watched their replays, and it's a bit of a similar thing," Barty said

"My mind and my body know it's kind of getting around to red clay court time.

"I'm sort of umming and ahhing over whether I want to watch because a lot of it is still a blur and I don't remember a lot about it.

"But it's funny how your body knows what season you're meant to be in. I don't know when I'll watch the match."

 

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Celebrating her 24th birthday on Friday, Barty's recall of the epic French semi-final against Amanda Anisimova is far more lucid.

Barty led 5-0 after just 15 minutes, only to lose the first set 7-6 before she trailed 0-3 in the second set - and seemingly destined for a shattering defeat.

The Queenslander won 12 of the next 15 games, securing what she now describes as career-defining victory.

"The beauty of the match we had in the semi-final is that the final doesn't happen without that match," she told the Sunday Herald Sun.

"Probably the rest of the year doesn't happen without that match.

"When I think about it (the match), I think of how hard it was, how ugly it was, how good it was in some areas.

"All of these mixed feelings. I could probably watch it in 10-minute clips and feel completely different at the end of each sequence.

"Without that match and without my personal growth in that match, the rest of the year probably doesn't happen, so in a way it's probably career-defining.

"It's pretty special to think about a match like that and knowing it wasn't the best tennis I've ever played, but maybe one of the most important matches I'll ever play.

"It's pretty cool to look at it like that."

 

Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin in Ash Barty’s box at the Australian Open. Picture: Michael Klein
Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin in Ash Barty’s box at the Australian Open. Picture: Michael Klein

 

Barty's understated and renowned coach Craig Tyzzer revealed post-tournament he had actually started formulating a losing speech for Barty during the Anisimova match.

Barty was doing exactly the same thing as she battled doubts, inner fears, rain and swirling dust.

"I was probably 30 minutes into that match creating my own defeat speech and actually thinking, 'Well, how am I going to talk through this with 'Tyzz'?'" she said.

"You learn the most in those tricky matches, it's not always the win or the loss, but what happens during the match.

"It's crazy to think we got through that and then worked a few demons through after that as well."

Had tennis, along with virtually all other sport not been suspended in March, Barty would have returned to Miami as defending champion.

Instead, after reaching the semi-finals in Dubai, she beat a hasty retreat to suburbia and the cherished routine of family, practice and a strange normality.

"It's just bizarre, isn't it?" she said. "Just kind of sitting back, this is really bizarre.

"You're preparing for that (hardcourt) swing and then you're on a plane back to Australia.

"It's different for everyone. For tennis players, there's that uncertainty. We need for pretty much the whole world to be clear before we can start our tour again.

"Domestic competitions have the chance to get up running again, but for a global sport it's a bit unique to be in that holding pattern.

"Everybody is sort of waiting for something to happen."

 

Barty with former Richmond star Brett Deledio.
Barty with former Richmond star Brett Deledio.

 

Aside from regularly hitting with Ben Matthias, Barty has been in contact with fellow players Halep, Kvitova, Kiki Bertens, Julia Goerges and Coco Vandeweghe.

On a personal level, Barty's mind drifts back to where her remarkable surge hit warp speed as she charged into the elite for the first time.

"It's strange to think it's been a year since we had that great week (in Miami) and broke into the top 10," she said.

"Miami was kind of what propelled my year.

"I've been in touch with a few of the girls, checking in with their families to see how they're going. I've been chatting to a few from the WTA as well. It's been good to be in contact with 'Simo', 'Jules', Kiki, Coco and Petra.

"All these girls I've had really good relationships with and am good friends with on a personal level. We're also chatting about what could be next for us and everyone is trying to get that new information.

"Overall, it's been a bit of an adjustment but also lucky that it's a time where you get to appreciate the little things in life, which is your health and your family."

Barty, whose partner Gary Kissick is a golfer, has used the time to "sharpen up my golf skills mostly and still training a little bit".

"Obviously it's a little bit of a holding pattern," she said.

"It's kind of tricky to train with the same intensity as always.

"Obviously, we're still not sure when we'll go back.

Ashleigh Barty.
Ashleigh Barty. Rob Williams

 

"Now, it's about maintaining for if and when we get an opportunity to play again this year, you can kinda flick that switch and go from there.

"I've trained enough now in many different gyms all over the world to be able to create my own sessions in safety without hurting myself."

Resigned to the likelihood international tennis will be one of the last sports cleared to resume because of issues around quarantine and border closures, Barty hopes the AFL returns soon.

"In a perfect world, if the AFL was going, I would be sitting on a couch every Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, whichever day it was, and cracking a beer and watching the Tiges," she laughed.

As to the defence of the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen in Paris, Barty will be ready when the moment comes.

"I haven't really thought about it," Barty said.

"I think it will be a bit weird, a bit bizarre. Whatever I'm feeling that day for my first round, whether it's this year or next year, I'll be ready.

"We'll just go out there and approach it as we always do and try to do our best."

Originally published as Revealed: Why Barty texted Cotch about Grand Final wins



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