By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – New world No.1 and Wimbledon top seed Ash Barty says 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 this 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 this month’s French Open.
If she gets past China’s Zheng Saisai on Tuesday she could face Russian twice Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, then 2017 Wimbledon winner Garbine Muguruza and then potentially 13th seed Belinda Bencic.
After that, it could be a quarter-final against either seven-times champion Serena Williams or 2018 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.
“I haven’t looked at the draw,” she said. “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, exactly three years after returning to the sport after quitting for a year and playing Big Bash cricket in Brisbane.
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.
“It’s always good when Aussies beat the English, isn’t it?” she joked. “At Lord’s, it was incredible. The Australian cricket team were nice enough to invite us into the dressing rooms, as well, which was a bucket-list item.
“Standing on the balcony at Lord’s was pretty incredible.”
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.
“Everything has kind of worked out well. So feeling good.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Lovell)