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Tennis | WTA

Ashleigh Barty © Getty Images

Surf's up! Barty to ride wave of success into clay season



Miami Open winner Ash Barty is confident she can "do some damage" in the upcoming clay season, and has hooked up with seven-time world surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore to gain inspiration.

The 22-year-old Australian cracked the world top 10 this week with her victory over Czech fifth seed Karolina Pliskova in the Miami final on Saturday.

It was a breakthrough title for the former Wimbledon junior champion as she became the first Australian woman since Sam Stosur in June 2013 to be ranked inside the top 10.

Now back on home soil, her focus is on this month's Fed Cup semifinal in Brisbane against Belarus, although she is already thinking about the clay season leading up to the French Open.

"I think I have the game on clay to be able to do some damage, I just have to continue to learn how to use it properly," she told reporters on the Gold Coast late Wednesday.

"This clay-court season in particular is an opportunity to go out and learn more about myself on that surface."

With the WTA Tour seeing an incredible 14 different winners from 14 events so far this season, Barty knows she has as good a chance as anyone at the second Grand Slam of the year at Roland Garros next month.

"Yes it's open but I also feel like it's stronger than ever before. It's about who can execute best on the day," she said.

"I think for me, I'm moving in the right direction. I feel great, and I feel like I've got an opportunity to achieve some of my dreams."

She made the quarterfinals at the opening major of the season at Melbourne Park and this week spent time with fellow Australian Gilmore to learn from her incredible success.

Gilmore is also on the Gold Coast for the season-opening World Surf League event.

"It's an opportunity for me to learn from other elite athletes, and Steph in particular. What she has been able to do for women's sport in Australia is absolutely phenomenal," Barty said.

"To see how she handles herself and goes about it is the biggest thing. When you meet genuine people, authentic people, they absolutely rub off on you."



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