Ash Barty’s coach takes swipe at rivals as semi-final clash with Madison Keys looms

Ash Barty‘s coach has taken a swipe at the world No.1’s rivals as she prepares for her Australian Open semi-final against American Madison Keys.

Barty’s trademark backhand slice has again been sublime during the Melbourne Park major, with US tennis great Jim Courier declaring it better than 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer‘s iconic sliced backhand.

When Barty’s coach, Craig Tyzzer, was asked about the Australian’s shot in a press conference during the lead-up to the match against Keys, he had a dig at her rivals’ preparation to face it.

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“I think it is a point of difference,” Tyzzer said of Barty’s backhand slice.

“There’s not many girls out there that hit a slice backhand.

“I think the fact that they don’t see it that often and then have to come up against it – it’s actually quite funny.

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“When you see who Ash has to play you see them out there practicing (against) someone hitting a slice backhand to them. It’s probably a bit late the day before to try to get that right. If you haven’t practiced it enough now you’re probably not going to get that right.”

But Tyzzer pointed out that Barty’s backhand slice was among a host of the Queenslander’s strengths.

“Her forehand is actually a weapon,” Tyzzer said.

“Her slice will set her up a lot for her forehand. Her serve sets her up a lot for her shots, as well. It’s all of those elements for me.”

Barty is striving to become the first Australian woman to win the Australian Open since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

The 25-year-old conquered Roland-Garros in 2019, was victorious at Wimbledon last year and is a hot favourite to take out this year’s Australian Open title.

The earlier-than-expected exits of Naomi Osaka, Aryna Sabalenka, Simona Halep and Maria Sakkari have given Barty’s pursuit of Melbourne Park glory a major boost.

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