Ashleigh Barty comes to the Caja Mágica as the outright favourite for the Mutua Madrid Open title. Last time she came to the capital of tennis, in 2019, she was yet to win a title on clay. Now she arrives as one of the most experienced players on the surface and her trophy cabinet holds two big titles: the French Open (2019) and Stuttgart, where just a few days ago she won both the doubles and singles titles.
“It’s nice to be back here”, explained the world number one on Media Day. “It feels like it’s been a long time since I was last here in Madrid, and obviously it’s been a very quick preparation compared to last time, I think. Obviously a quick preparation, but I’m looking forward to getting started tomorrow and playing here again”.
The Caja Mágica is a different venue to any other on tour, and it is a place Barty enjoys competing in. “It’s a beautiful court. I think the three main courts are beautiful. They play exceptionally well”.
Destiny has dealt her a first-round match against Shelby Rodgers. “Yeah, it seems this year we’re going to be playing once a month”, said Barty with a smile. This will be the fourth time the two players have clashed horns so far this season, with the Australian taking the spoils every time. “It’s strange playing someone so regularly, and I think sometimes that’s how the draws go. You can play someone time and time again or you can never see them on your side of the draw for years”.
Six months away from home
If one thing characterises the world number one, it is her optimism. “I’m always happy!”, she explained to the press. Barty is going to be a long way from home and from her family, travelling from tournament to tournament, for more than 6 months.
How is she handling the distance? “I think we are at day 41 since I left Australia”, she began, before joking “not that I’m counting!”.
“I’m very grateful to be doing what I love. Ultimately I get an opportunity to do what I love. I get to do it here with part of my team. Tyz is here with me. Obviously not my full team, but I know that they are watching at home and they are riding the wave with us. Certainly no complaints from my end. Nothing to be negative about at all”.