Rod Laver thinks Ashleigh Barty is Grand Slam material after Melbourne run


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Rod Laver thinks Ashleigh Barty is Grand Slam material after Melbourne run

Ashleigh Barty, the most promising Australian girl born in the mid-90s, had a stellar start of a career, winning junior Wimbledon at the age of 15 and making a pro debut on the big scene at home in Melbourne in 2012, still before the 16th birthday.

In her previous five visits to Melbourne Park, Ashleigh failed to reach the expectations and survive the opening week, never passing the third round but changing all that at this year's campaign. The young Aussie was among the dark horses after a great start of 2019 season and she had a great run to enter the quarter-final for the first time at Majors, beating Luksika Kumkhum, Yafan Wang, Maria Sakkari and Maria Sharapova to find herself in the last eight.

There, Barty stood no chance against Petra Kvitova, losing in straight sets to end her Melbourne run with a massive boost before the rest of the season where she should fight for big titles if she maintains this level. The Aussie legend Rod Laver agrees with that, saying Ashleigh now belongs among the elite after her Melbourne Park performance.

Armed with one of the best backhand slices in the game, Laver believes Barty will be among the players to beat at Wimbledon but also she stands a chance in Paris and New York as well if she brings her 'A game.' "She's just a baby," Rod Laver said.

"If it's not this year, she has a lot of years ahead of her. What she's done this year is have a lot of great wins and that's what you need to do to catapult yourself into that elite category of being able to challenge for Grand Slams.

I would say Wimbledon would be her best chance but I think she's got a chance to do it no matter where she is - as long as she's on the court and healthy. She proved it against Sharapova. The slice backhand she's got, which gave Sharapova so much trouble, because the ball's down low to a double-hander, is the one shot that she has that can be a point of difference.

How do you get down there? It's not that shot that wins the point but when she just lobs it back up, that's when Ash has the chance to win the point."