NEW YORK: Tennis legend Martina Navratilova has said that Australian world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty will be the favourite to add to her Wimbledon title this year when action begins at the US Open on September 30, adding that "consistency" and her "powerful forehand" were the trump cards of the champion player.
"Consistency. You have to play a really good match to beat her, you have to think. Because she's a thinker, right? She finds places on the court where most players don't. She has the variety that no one else has, with the slice and the drive and running around. The powerful forehand, big serve. She's leading the WTA in aces [with 297]. She moves so well, it's hard to find openings against her. Just bashing won't do it, because she can hang back and neutralise the big shot with her slice, brings you in, now you don't have any court to work with, really," Navratilova, the WTA all-time leader with 167 titles, told wtatennis.com on Friday.
The 64-year-old Prague-born player, who won a total of 59 Grand Slam titles — 18 singles, 31 doubles and 10 mixed doubles and won the US Open singles title four times, added that though Iga Swiatek may have gone off the boil "a little bit", the Polish player is a dangerous player if the courts suit her.
"Let's see who catches the form when it matters the most. Because quite often at the US Open, it's who gets hot the two weeks, and maybe they don't do much the rest of the year or the next. Maybe they win another major a few years later. Iga Swiatek, we haven't talked about her, but she's gone off the boil a little bit. Still dangerous — it will depend on how the courts play," added Navratilova.
The legend also felt that Japan's Naomi Osaka, despite having won only three matches in the three months and having been plagued by mental health issues, can "put it all together in New York".
"Absolutely, absolutely. She's done it before, where she was like, 'Uh, what's going on with her?' — and then she wins. Wins Australia, wins the US Open. You cannot underestimate her; she is too good for that. She'll be ready. The Olympics was a lot of pressure for her. I don't know if I could have walked up those steps to light the Olympic torch. Talk about pressure, right? Talk about being out of your comfort zone. The whole world is watching, you really don't want to trip at that point," said Navratilova.
"Maybe after that, she can just relax, play her best tennis. Shine. She's done it the hard way against Serena Williams the first time ; she's done it the hard way again with no crowd . Now maybe she can finally do it with the crowd and no drama, just play her game. It's all about tennis. The drama is behind her with the French Open, didn't play Wimbledon and the Olympics had to be such a pressure cooker for her." IANS