Barty wary of checkmate from Czech mates

·3-min read

The Wimbledon draw keeps opening up ever more invitingly for world No.1 Ash Barty but she simply won't be distracted as the potential for checkmate from a couple of Czech mates keeps her focused.

The big names may be dropping like flies out of the ladies' event, with six of the top 11 in the world rankings already knocked out while both the No.2 Naomi Osaka, who's taking a well-publicised break, and injured No.3 Simona Halep never even made it to the start line.

Yet when Barty was asked if she thought this really now might be her golden opportunity to win Wimbledon, she sounded affronted by the very suggestion.

"That's an impossible question to answer," she said following her uneven second-round victory over Russian Anna Blinkova on Thursday.

"The three names you mentioned (Halep, Osaka and Serena Williams) are all not in the draw for different reasons.

"That's not something that I can control. I think speculating now is a waste of time. It's certainly not something that I'm going to do, is to be looking at the draw. I never have, I never will."

For the moment, she has her hands full with simply getting her game into the best shape to tackle her next opponent on Saturday, Katerina Siniakova.

A Czech known largely for her doubles but who has a couple of singles titles under her belt too and last week reached the final of the Bad Homburg Open, Siniakova has the capability of giving Barty all the trouble if she performs as erratically as she did against Blinkova.

Siniakova is also fresh from her latest grand slam doubles success at Roland Garros with compatriot Barbora Krejcikova, the fairytale French Open champ who could actually be Barty's fourth-round opponent.

Krejcikova extended her winning streak to 14 by beating Andrea Petkovic 7-5 6-4 on Thursday as she continued her most outlandish of quests to become the first woman since Serena Williams in 2015 to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon back-to-back.

Yet Krejcikova simply believes that if she could win the French Open out of nowhere, then couldn't some other supposed no-hoper do the same next week?

Asked who could win, she shrugged: "Everyone, because it's grass. You know, it's very unpredictable."

Barty has won her first two matches while not being near her best, which is, of course, the sign of a champ.

The suspicion is that, with coach Craig Tyzzer, she's been working on being more aggressive with her second serves to try to defuse the potential bombs that will come her way on the grass.

And that, in turn, is perhaps why she served up nine double faults against Blinkova.

Yet Barty just shrugs off such speculation, just as she dismisses the idea that her off-day in the serving department might have had something to do with the left hip injury that forced her to pull out of the French Open.

"No, I feel fine," she said.

"It was just not a great serving day. So certainly not something I'm going to blow out of proportion."

Asked about where she felt she was with her game at the moment, the ever-upbeat Barty added: "I'm exactly where I am, and that's all I can ask.

"There's no kind of percentage of how I'm playing. It's just trying to find a way each and every day, each and every match.

"I feel good."

We knew that she would.

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