Watch Ash Barty play tennis for five minutes, and you notice something something about her game that’s different than any female player on the WTA Tour. Barty has a low, cutting, wicked, powerful and tactical ball of fire for a backhand slice.
“It’s something I was taught when I was very young, and it has become a huge part of my game,” Barty said.
The 23-year-old Australian, seeded eighth at Roland Garros this year, beat American Danielle Collins with ease, 7-5 6-1, and Barty said afterwards her slice played an important role.
“Sometimes it’s more of a focal point than others, depending on the opponent. Sometimes I might use it to try to pin the opponent back. Today it was definitely a focus,” Barty said of her slice backhand.
Barty’s driven backhand, which she hits with two hands is a solid shot in it’s own right. But the slice is the superstar of her game.
In this match it did quite a bit of heavy lifting. In fact, slices accounted for 65% of her work on the backhand in this match. It’s a player here at Roland Garros for Barty. A shot-by-shot match chart reveals Barty hit slice 69 times on the backhand wing, coming over backhand just 37 times. There were ten slices that either resulted directly in a winner or in an error by Collins on the next shot.
On clay, sometimes a slice is not as potent as it is on grass, because balls can sit up more on this surface. But it really depends on the quality of the slice. Although, as it happens the only surface where she has not made a singles final is clay.
But if she hits her slice on the clay of Roland Garros like she has in the first two rounds, an appearance in the final could be on the cards. First Barty will have to get through unseeded German Andrea Petkovic, another consistent power player similar to Collins. One who had better be ready to handle the slice.
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