Ashleigh Barty of Australia returns during her first-round match against Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia at the Brisbane International.
Ashleigh Barty of Australia returns during her first-round match against Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia at the Brisbane International. DAVE HUNT

Barty ready to test herself against Kerber

ASH Barty's real place in the world tennis pecking order is not 270 places on the rankings list below world No.1 Angelique Kerber.

At Pat Rafter Arena on Wednesday, the comeback kid of Australian tennis gets a better idea of where it is at this stage of her comeback when she takes on the super-fit Kerber in the second round.

Barty, a lower-order batter for the Brisbane Heat last summer, outclassed world No.144 Aleksandra Krunic 6-2 6-2 in the first round on Monday.

It gave another indication for what is tantalising possible for the 20-year-old after an injury-interrupted return to professional tennis.

The Ipswich wildcard has only four tournaments contributing to her ranking of No.271 on a system that ranks players according to their best 16 tournaments over a 52-week period.

"I think your ranking is a true indication of where you are at,” she insisted when asked where her true ranking would be.

"I have become capable of playing at a high level and what a perfect way to start with the Australian summer.

"What an opportunity it is to test yourself against the very best.”

Already the fifth-ranked Australian, Barty considers herself fortunate that her meeting with Tennis Australia executives last January about how they would proceed with her return to tennis occurred when Daria Gavrilova had just split from Melbourne coach Craig Tyzzer.

"It was perfect timing for me. He's such a calming influence and just perfect for me,” Barty said.

"It was sort of perfect that Craig has had a little bit of time to get on the court with me and hit a few balls and start the ball rolling.

"I had a bone stress injury in my (right) arm which slowed me up for a few months there (in late 2016), but it's healed now.”

Kerber said she respected Barty's decision in 2014 to leave the tennis tour for what turned out to be 16 months away from the game.

"The pressure is really tough, and it's really not so easy sometimes to deal with this. But you have to find the way to get used to it,” Kerber said.

"It's important, like, to have people around you to help you.

"I'm really looking forward to play against a really young Australian girl.”

Barty said Kerber had "a fantastic team around her” and that the German deserved the top ranking she achieved by winning the Australian and US opens in an ultra-consistent season.

"The last Australian Open I played Serena Williams (in 2014, losing 6-2 6-1),” she said.

"It's just exciting for me to get this opportunity.”

TA has yet to finalise its final wildcards for the Australian Open, which starts on January 16, and Barty can clinch one by competing with Kerber.

Barty maintains her close friendships with former Heat teammates and streamed one of their matches on Monday before leaving for Tennyson and winning her first WTA main-draw match at Pat Rafter Arena.

THE COURIER-MAIL



22-year-old mystery: Conflicting stories in quest for truth

premium_icon 22-year-old mystery: Conflicting stories in quest for truth

Jeffrey had told friends and family that he had been threatened

Face of Lismore flood dies in tragic circumstances

premium_icon Face of Lismore flood dies in tragic circumstances

"Deeply disturbing that someone has died under these circumstances"

Did we take your photo at Lismore outdoor show?

premium_icon Did we take your photo at Lismore outdoor show?

Happy campers converged on the Lismore Showground this weekend

Local Partners