Tennis

World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty not concerned with Wimbledon draw

World No. 1 says she hasn't checked her potential opponents at Wimbledon, will stick to her winning mantra

New world No.1 and Wimbledon top seed Ashleigh Barty said she has not even glanced at the All England Club draw, which considering the obstacles in her quarter, is just as well.

The 23-year-old, who last week became the first Australian woman to reach the top of the rankings since 1976, must survive a rough-looking path if she is to claim back-to-back Grand Slams, having won her first at last month's French Open.

If she gets past China's Zheng Saisai tomorrow, she could face Russia's two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, then 2017 Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza and then potentially 13th seed Belinda Bencic.

After that, it could be a quarter-final against either seven-time champion Serena Williams or last year's winner Angelique Kerber.

Whoever is placed in front of her, Barty, who says she has recovered from the arm ache that forced her to pull out of the Eastbourne event this week, will just stick to the process that has worked wonders in a stunning year.

She said: "I haven't looked at the draw. I mean, I've seen my first-round opponent.

"Flicking through on social media, you see people that are in certain quarters. I couldn't tell you where they are in any kind of direct way.

"I don't know if I'm the favourite for Wimbledon.

"I think I need to try and get through this first round first and foremost.

"Obviously, the process that we've been going through, has been working. There's no need for me to change that."

Barty followed up her French Open victory by winning the Birmingham title and moving to the top of the WTA rankings.

That came exactly three years after she returned to the sport, following a sojourn in Brisbane, where she played Big Bash cricket.

She pulled out of Eastbourne too because of a bone stress injury she has managed since she was 16, but that gave her the opportunity to watch Australia beat England in the Cricket World Cup at Lord's.

INJURY SITUATION

Of the injury scare, she added: "It's been good. It's been a really good couple of days. It was nice to stay off the court for a few days, started hitting again on Thursday."

With 37-year-old seven-time champion Serena Williams finally showing signs of age, Naomi Osaka looking exposed through poor form and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova still easing back to top form after an arm injury, defending champion Kerber may be the biggest threat to Barty.

The 31-year-old may have lost in the Eastbourne final to Karolina Pliskova, but the German will be delighted if, like last year, that became the launch pad to winning at the All England club.

"I will try to take the positive things from the whole week, from the last two weeks before going to Wimbledon now," said Kerber.

Despite all the attention on her, Barty insists that she feels no pressure.

"The only pressure is that that I put on myself," she said.

While Barty said she did not know what else the draw held for her, Williams claimed not to even know the Australian was No. 1.

The American legend could perhaps be forgiven her ignorance, given how often the top spot has changed since her era of dominance ended.

Nevertheless, Williams - who claims she is over the knee woes that saw her pull out of the Italian Open and then make an early French Open exit - believes Barty could be in for a long run at the top of the rankings.

Said Williams: "I think so. I think she has a great game.

"I think she's really even-tempered. She's just really chill. She's had a really good year."

- REUTERS, AFP

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