Ashleigh Barty has been left stunned at the ease of her “perfect” tennis comeback, saying it has felt like everything “went back to normal” following a two-year hiatus.
But the former Wimbledon junior champion warned fans – and rivals – not to expect the best of her until next year’s Australian Open as she recreates her game to excel at the top level.
The 20-year-old, who famously stepped away from tennis in 2014 in order to take up cricket, has made a head-turning comeback to the circuit with quarter-final and semi-final appearances returning her to the world rankings far higher than she’d ever anticipated.
“It’s been awesome. We couldn’t have asked for much more really,” said Barty, now ranked No.303 in the world.
“We didn’t think we’d fall straight back into it as well as we did. But it’s been a perfect start.
“We definitely didn’t think we’d be sitting mid-300s a few weeks in. It’s set up the rest of the year for us really well. I’m just pumped.”
And despite the seamless transition and outstanding results, Barty says fans won’t see the best of her until she steps out in front of the home crowds in January.
She expects it will take her that long before she is able to get into peak physical shape – pointing out the differences between the conditioning of her as a cricketer and as a tennis player.
“It’s going to take me some time to get back to where I want to be physically … I’d love it to be tomorrow, but that’s not going to happen,” she laughed, adding every match was an opportunity to improve.
“Win, lose or draw, there’s always something we can do better. And it’s the same physically.”
Working with new coach Craig Tyzzer, Barty’s made alterations to her game which – in addition to her maturing physically – she hopes will make her a more difficult proposition.
“This is an opportunity for me to sort of recreate my game a little bit and add a few dimensions that we didn’t have or didn’t use as much the first time around,” she said.
“I play a bit of a different game style to a lot of other girls and we’re trying to just keep that uniqueness and really work on a few of those things.”
Barty will compete at Wimbledon with local favourite Laura Robson in the women’s doubles on Thursday.
“This is the best place in the world,” she said.
“There’s no feeling quite like walking through the doors here. It’s just amazing.
“I’ve had so many good memories from this tournament and so many of the courts here are so special for me.”