Ashleigh Barty says her strong mentality is giving her an extra edge when it comes to tennis, as she uses each knock-back as a learning experience.
Barty is first seed in this weeks Madrid Open, with a strong field of 11 of the top 15 ranked players including Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep and Elina Svitolina.
Despite taking almost a year away from tennis due to concerns over travel through the coronavirus pandemic, Barty has maintained her number one position in the rankings, partly due to the temporary ranking system brought in by the WTA due to COVID.
However, since her return to the sport this year, Barty has cemented her position at the top winning the Adelaide International, Yarra Valley Classic and the Miami Open as well as reaching the quarter-final of the Australian Open.
The Australian enters Madrid fresh off a triumphant return to clay at Stuttgart last week in which she came from a set down three days in a row to clinch the title.
In the quarter-final, semi-final and final, Barty lost the first set and fought back to win the match and although not ideal, she says it’s a part of her game that she learns the most from.
“I try to continue to get stronger mentally, to get stronger physically and as a tennis player, as well,” Barty said.
“It’s just a part of the game for me. It’s like any other muscle. I try and work on it as best I can and make it stronger and stronger.
“You only learn from pretty rough experiences as well. When you get kicked down, you have to get back up again. That’s when you learn the most.
“It’s important to experience that. And take the learnings from the tough moments. I think your greatest growth comes from your darkest times and it’s important to be able to recognise that and learn from it.”
Barty will kickstart her Madrid campaign by playing American Shelby Rogers on Thursday.
For more exclusive content from Tennisbuzz, including news, features, trivia, promotions and more, please be sure to sign up for our newsletter below or via our home page.
Why not test your tennis knowledge by tackling one of our fiendish quizzes too?