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‘All of a sudden things are not good’: Barty Party is over, now the hangover begins | French Open 2022

‘All of a sudden things are not good’: Barty Party is over, now the hangover begins | French Open 2022

As Daria Saville posted her first major-level victory in over a year on Monday, a star who once wore Australian tennis could be spotted among the crowd at Roland Garros.

US Open winner Sam Stosur has been the first of two big Australian tennis retirements this year, which has left the closet clearly empty when it comes to major contenders.

When Ash Barty hit a forehand winner past Danielle Collins to win the Australian Open in January, the champagne flowed as the nation celebrated a generational talent.

The Barty Party felt like it was heating up when the three-time major winner retired in March. The bar closed abruptly, the bottles were recorked and a hangover threatened.

The ‘After Ash’ era began and the first grand slam since retiring to Paris proved a sobering affair for local hopefuls.

With Dasha Saville’s third-round exit on Friday ending a promising tournament for the former world number 20, not one Aussie has reached the last 16 of the French Open.

Stosur, who hopes to mentor the next generation of Australian talent when she hangs up her racquet after a final round on the doubles circuit, noted from Paris: “I think Ash has covered some holes where our players are.”

“All of a sudden things aren’t going so well,” she said.

Australia’s highest-ranked man, Alex de Minaur, went out in the first round and has just two wins from six visits to Paris, although his clay-court form in the lead events was stronger.

Former men’s champion Alexei Popyrin has only one victory in four attempts.

On the day Jason Kubler was beaten in straight sets by Cameron Norrie, Nick Kyrgios was training at a training ground in Australia without belittling Bernard Tomic on social media.

Ajla Tomljanovic, ranked 42nd, now the highest ranked woman in the country, reached the second round.

Saville, who is set to return after ankle and Achilles heel issues, is set to return to the top 100 and is showing signs she can get back to where she was.

This week proved a small step up from an uninspiring 2021 in Paris where two men and three women, including an injured Barty, managed to win a round.

Jordan Thompson was the last Australian to reach the third round in Paris in 2019, the same year Barty won his maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros.

Assessing the desolate landscape of rejected Australians on the red clay of Paris this week, John Millman said: “We were lucky with Ash, weren’t we? It doesn’t happen too often to have the best player in the world. »

But just as a swallow does not make a leap, to rush to judge Australian tennis to be in a death spiral after the below-par performance in Paris would be a miscalculation.

The grass is generally much greener for Australians as they cross the Channel, although it would be a stretch to suggest any of the current cohort will match Barty’s act last year at Wimbledon.

Millman urged against rash judgments, saying having six men in the top 100 and Popyrin on point is actually a remarkable effort considering the global spread of tennis.

“I think we lose in Australia how difficult tennis is,” he said. “We are not in your faces every week like your football players are. There are probably 400 soccer players on a list. Then you have a sport played in 180 countries.

“And you start doing the math and you think, ‘If you can get a player in the top 100, that’s probably the equivalent of having the best player in the league in Australia’. I don’t dabble in footy. Everyone Everyone knows I love my football, but when it comes to how we view tennis players, it just takes my breath away.

Stosur hopes some of the 11 Australian women ranked between 100 and 250 will have learned from Barty, who also plans to mentor young talent and become regulars on the tour.

She is confident Saville will gain ground quickly if she can stay fit and believes in the potential of Olivia Gadecki and teenager Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz, who played doubles this week.

“We need everyone who is pushing each other and really trying to move up the leaderboard,” she said. “One in the top 100 is by no means great, but hopefully we can push the eight, 10-12 players into the next bracket. Hopefully it’s not too long.”

In the longer term, it is hoped that the Barty effect will fuel a wave of Australian talent. Coach sign-ups have skyrocketed during the three-time major winner’s career and her coach Craig Tyzzer is hoping the retired world No.1 will create a legacy of success.

“The five or six year olds who started now, in ten to 15 years they could be the best juniors in Australia. That’s what we’re hoping for,” Tyzzer said. “Just the fact that there are more people playing tennis and playing sports is the other part of it, whether or not they go to where Ash is or play on the circuit, that doesn’t doesn’t matter.”

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