PARIS - Ash Barty sat down to meet with reporters, crossed her arms and rested them on a table that held the French Open trophy she’d just won.
Beneath the table, her white-and-black shoes were covered with rust-colored, clay-court dust.
First question: At the start of 2019, which Grand Slam tournament did you think gave you the best chance at a title?
“Certainly not here,” Barty replied Saturday night, without hesitation. “That’s for sure.”
Hey, give the 23-year-old Australian credit for honesty.
After all, right up until the past two weeks, which culminated with her 6-1, 6-3 victory over 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the final, Roland Garros and its slow surface didn’t jump out as ideal for Barty. In the past, she had plenty of trouble with the way clay dulls powerful serves and other strokes, as well as the footwork it requires.
“I mean, I said to my team at the start of the year, I was just worried about falling over. And I can successfully say that we got to the end of the clay-court season and I did not fall over once,” she said with a smile. “So I’m pretty pumped with that.”
The results the first five times Barty entered the French Open: three losses in the first round, two in the second round.
“She looks forward to the grass-court season every time we play on clay,” joked her coach, Craig Tyzzer. “So I’m not sure what she’s going to expect now. She’s had a pretty good clay season now. So it’s going to be hard to top what she’s done here.”