World No.1 Ashleigh Barty became the first woman in 20 years to sweep the singles and doubles titles at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix after coming back from a set down in three consecutive matches to capture her third title of 2021. Making her Stuttgart debut, the 25-year-old capped off a successful birthday week by defeating No.7 Aryna Sabalenka 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 in Sunday's final and then teaming with Jennifer Brady to defeat top seeds Desirae Krawczyk 6-4, 5-7, 10-5 to win the doubles.
With three titles in 2021 (Yarra Valley Classic, Miami) as well as quarterfinal appearances at the Australian Open and Charleston, Barty will overtake Naomi Osaka to top the Porsche Race to Shenzhen Leaderboard on Monday.
"I felt like this week was a massive week for us," Barty told reporters after the match. "We adapted to the conditions well, found our way in some crucial moments in some tough matches, and ultimately come away with the title and some really fun memories."
With a trio of wins over Sabalenka, No.5 Elina Svitolina, and No.9 Karolina Pliskova, Barty has now won her last 10 matches against Top 10 opposition, dating back to the 2019 Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen. She is the first reigning No.1 to win Stuttgart since Justine Henin in 2007 and the first to sweep the titles since Lindsay Davenport in 2001.
"It’s extremely humbling to be even mentioned in the same sentence as both Justine and Lindsay," Barty told reporters after the wins. "They are are both incredible champions, legends of our sport and to be able to have a little bit of a shared history within this tournament is really cool."
Barty sat down with WTA Insider after her title run to reflect on another brilliant week, where her nerve and problem-solving skills were tested repeatedly at the Porsche Arena.
WTA Insider: Congratulations, Ash. What is the standout moment from your week in Stuttgart?
Barty: Yeah, an incredible week here in Stuttgart, a very busy week, very tiring week, but certainly a good dilemma to have. But there were plenty of moments this week where I felt like there was massive growth for me on the court and off the court as well.
But probably the response in the quarter, semi, and final, of losing the first set, those next couple of games in each of those second sets were a massive turning point. To be able to reset and continue to chip away and adjust tactically when I needed to and to adapt, but to ultimately keep myself in the hunt, was massive.
WTA Insider: Discussing your propensity for comebacks, which we saw in Stuttgart and Miami, do you zero in and elevate your focus in those moments? Or do you treat them no differently than any other point in the match?
Barty: A little bit of both. I think it's important to not focus on the result or the scoreline, but I think in tennis it's important to also take it into consideration.
We have such a strange scoreline at times and no matter what the score is, you're never out of the hunt. That's a massive thing. There's no timer counting down. There's no finish until it is finished. So it's important to keep giving yourself a chance, to keep turning up each and every point.
Don't get me wrong, without a doubt I'd love to be playing matches that aren't deep three-setters and putting myself in those positions and situations. But to be learning from those experiences every time and to be gaining more trust in myself, learning more about myself as a tennis player and as a person every day is a pretty cool way to grow and to learn.
WTA Insider: You mentioned the unique nature of tennis' scoring system in your press conference as well. Do you have a standout memory of an instance where the scoring system came back to bite you?
Barty: Oh, plenty of times. Plenty of times you think of the 'what ifs'. What if I'd just won this one point back half an hour ago?
There have been plenty of matches where I've won more points than my opponent. The stat sheet says you're at this level and it's better than your opponent. But there have also been plenty of times where I've had absolutely no right to still be in a tennis match or to win a tennis match. You win some, you lose some. It gives and takes.
But it's certainly to someone who hasn't followed tennis, and even to a few of my friends who hadn't followed tennis before I started coming back, trying to explain it to them was beyond challenging. It's a strange system, but there's always that belief. There's always that 'what if' or 'it could happen'.
WTA Insider: How do you manage the tension that creates? If you always know there's a chance to turn a match around regardless of the score, that can create a lot of pressure.
Barty: I think at times it's important to realize some big moments or some key moments in matches, but ultimately, no matter how good or how bad the point is, its value is the same. Whether it's a 45-shot rally and you scramble all over the court but then the next point you hit a double fault, they've both got the same value.
It's important to know that it doesn't matter whether its the first point of the match, a break point or match point, whatever it is, what you do in that point, that given moment, is only the value of one. So it's important not to let one point feel like it changes the match because it doesn't. I think that's a really important focus to have.
Yes, there can be shifts in momentum, but if you tell yourself that one point changed a match, I think you've kind of viewed it the wrong way. I'm guilty of it myself, coming off the court, furious, steam coming out of my head thinking this one point, I ruined it. It's one point.
Looking at it from a wider lens and a different perspective is important sometimes.
WTA Insider: Before the tournament, you were asked about your form, and you said it's dangerous to judge a player's form simply on results. You could be playing well and losing, and you could be playing poorly but winning. So how would you rate your form right now?
Barty: I mean, you could throw 100 stats at me and probably three-quarters of them I disagree with or I'd say you just made them up to try and help your cause.
But look, this week's been fantastic. I think we've played an extremely consistent level of tennis. I think back to tournaments throughout 2019 where I felt like there were key events of not necessarily playing my best tennis, but putting together a whole week of consistent tennis, big moments coming up with some good stuff. This week here in Stuttgart, I've been able to do that. I think it was no different in Miami.
During the Australian summer, I felt like there was a little bit left that I was looking for. To be able to essentially find it in a way, and continue to grow and learn from all my experiences is really all I'm trying to do.
I think every time I get to step out on the court and play a match, I feel like I'm going to learn from that. You want to play as many matches as possible because it's an opportunity to learn and to grow every single time. It's an opportunity, of course, to win tennis matches, but looking from that wider or outside lens, it's an opportunity for me to try and take my learnings from the previous match and put them into work and all of these different things.
There are a lot of things in each tennis match that I try and do. This week, I've played some great tennis. I'm proud of myself for the fact that we've been able to find a way. I felt like the level of tennis this week was pretty good.
WTA Insider: Do you think this long overseas trip has made you narrow your focus during matches and tournaments? Given what you and your team have had to sacrifice to live out of a suitcase for six months, it would make sense if you thought, 'Well, I better make all this worth it'.
Barty: I think the overriding feeling for me is genuinely a sense of gratitude, that I have an opportunity to do what I love. When you wake up and feel grateful and know that you have an opportunity to do what you love, it's a pretty cool thing. There's not a lot of things at the moment I'd rather be doing than hitting tennis balls and competing and testing myself.
Of course, without a doubt, I would love to have my family and those close to me here with me to experience it. But that's not how the cookie crumbles at the moment. So it's Tyz and I and we're going about our business.
There are going to be rough weeks, we know that. There are going to be great weeks and there's going to be plenty of downtime in between. It's important to find a real balance of not getting overexcited and too erratic when the times are good, and also not going into your shell and feeling like the world is crumbling down on you when things aren't good. That's a massive one for me as well, knowing that you kind of have to be really accepting that there's is going to be some good stuff, there's going to be some bad stuff, and there's a lot of time in the middle that you decide how you want to approach it.
You decide how you want to wake up each morning, whether you want to be a grumpy person or a happy person. I promise you more times than not, I want to wake up a happy person.