Barty defeated Karolina Pliskova in the final of Wimbledon to secure her first title at the All England Club, ending her two-year wait to add to her French Open crown.
The 25-year-old has certainly put tennis at the forefront of Australian minds, and all eyes will be on her at the Australian Open in the first Grand Slam of 2022. Barty is currently backed at 6/1 odds in the outright tennis betting markets to win the tournament, although there will be an element of pressure on her considering that it has been 44 years since an Australian woman last won the event. Chris O’Neil was the last successful Australian woman to triumph on home soil in 1978, which makes the proposition all the more difficult for Barty.
The pressure of the occasions can be overwhelming for tennis players in front of their home fans. No venue epitomised this more than Wimbledon as the British public were forced to wait 76 years for a men’s champion before Andy Murray finally ended the drought in 2013 with his triumph. The weight of the world was on his shoulders and the relief of victory was evident after the game. The occasion had previously got the best of former British number one Tim Henman, who spurned four chances in the semi-finals to reach the championship game at the All England Club.
Barty has made strides at the Australian Open, although she is yet to reach a final. She was beaten in the quarter-finals of the event in 2019 by Petra Kvitova in straight sets. It was her first experience of the last eight and Barty was all the better for it as she claimed the French Open crown three months later. She returned in 2020 as the favourite for the tournament and breezed her way through to the last four, earning revenge on Kvitova in the process in the quarter-finals. Barty was pitted against 14th seed Sofia Kenin, but failed to deliver her best tennis on the day and was eliminated in the last four before the American went on to win the title by defeating Garbine Muguruza.
Chances to win Grand Slams do not come around too often, especially ones on home soil. On paper, Barty should have had no problem dispatching the American, but whether it was an off day or the pressure of the occasion, she failed to grasp the opportunity. The 25-year-old struggled once again in 2021. All appeared well after the first set of her quarter-final contest against Karolina Muchova, securing a 6-1 win, but the Czech responded with a brilliant comeback to beat the number one seed.
Barty is once again one of the top contenders for the Australian Open and has proven her quality elsewhere in the globe at Roland-Garros and Wimbledon. Whether she can take that form to Melbourne where she will carry the weight of an expectant nation is another matter. There are a number of top players emerging on the WTA Tour, including Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez, while Naomi Osaka is due to bounce back from her disappointing end to her 2021 season. Barty will be challenged in her bid to break the Australian Open drought.