Ashleigh Barty is bidding to continue her reign over clay. The Australian would like to reaffirm her mastery of the surface at the Mutua Madrid Open. Since winning the French Open in 2019, Barty has improved every time she has appeared at a clay tournament. Although the first event on the red stuff in 2021 got away from her, Barty was able to pick herself back up in Stuttgart to claim her first clay title of the season.
No sooner was the tournament in Germany over, she set her sights on Madrid, a title that she has yet to get her hands on. This is the third time Barty has played in the Caja Mágica, her best result coming in 2019, when she reached the quarter-finals against Halep.
But the Australian has changed a lot since that match and we are already seeing that at this year’s tournament. Barty produced a very impressive first-round performance to cruise past Rogers, but it was a different story at the next stage, where the Australian had to dig deeper than expected to make her way to the third round, but she eventually went through after seeing off Zidansek (6-4, 1-6, 6-3).
The result would still have Barty as one of the favourites for the title, above all because of the world number one’s current form, having already won three titles in 2021, which she will be wanting to add to in Madrid.
Adapting to the conditions
Barty had to work really hard to overcome Zidansek. However, she was well aware from the start it would be no walkover. “I knew that it was going to be a really difficult match before playing it. I’m happy to have found my form quickly and to have a little bit of momentum in the third set”.
After her second match in Madrid, Barty recognised that there is nothing she can do about the conditions, she will have to prepare for any possibility. “I’ve played two matches indoors because of the rain and I can’t wait to play in the sun and with a little more warmth. In a couple of days, the temperature will change and the roof will be open and it will be a different match. More adjustment, more adaptation, more challenge”.