Ash Barty has kept her answers brief when talking about Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic.
Ash Barty has kept her answers brief when talking about Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic.

Barty’s telling Tomic, Kyrgios silence

BERNARD Tomic's been fined his entire first-round pay packet for not playing up to "professional standard" and Nick Kyrgios created as many headlines with his mouth as with his racquet.

In other words, another standard grand slam in the life of Australian men's tennis.

But in the women's draw, Ash Barty keeps rolling on.

The country's newest golden girl is through to the third round of Wimbledon, doing so with a level of fuss her male counterparts must dream of one day being able to emulate.

Her rise to world No.1 - doing so with humility and grace - has highlighted the gulf that exists between the reigning French Open champion and some of the men's stars playing under the Aussie flag. Not all, but some.

Barty is as efficient with words as she is on court. Just as she's disposed of two opponents in straight sets, not wasting any unnecessary energy, Barty doesn't waste her breath either.

Her responses in press conferences this week at the All England Club, in front of an Australian-dominant press contingent, have been succinct to say the least. The 23-year-old always answers the question, but does so in as few words as possible.

It's definitely not rude, just efficient.

So it was no surprise when asked about the fortunes of Kyrgios and Tomic, Barty wasn't keen on lecturing attentive journalists. But even by her standards, her answers were curt.


Asked about Tomic having to forfeit his $81,000 pay cheque, Barty played with a bat so straight you figure she could walk back into professional cricket right now if she wanted to.

"I didn't see the match, so I can't comment," she said. Completely fair. She didn't watch Tomic so won't weigh in on what his effort levels were.

After Kyrgios blew up at officials and spectators in his round one win over Jordan Thompson, Barty was asked whether, having spoken about being a role model herself and the importance of respect, she found him entertaining or thought he needed to pull his head in.

Another straight bat to that question saw her pressed to comment on Kyrgios in general. What does she make of him?

"I didn't see any of it (Kyrgios's match against Thompson). We were warming up when they started. I was warming up physically when they were playing. I didn't see any of it," she said.

"Not often do the two of us actually cross paths. We probably only play a handful of tournaments when we're in the same place. I don't really watch a lot of his matches. I don't watch a lot of tennis matches in general. It's not really for me to comment on."

Bernard Tomic hasn't exactly covered himself in glory. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Bernard Tomic hasn't exactly covered himself in glory. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Barty also said she would be watching the women's Ashes rather than Kyrgios's match against Rafael Nadal on Friday morning, not tempted by the box office hit in the way almost everyone else at Wimbledon was.

To be clear, this isn't a criticism of Barty's answers. In fact, they say more about Tomic and Kyrgios than they do about her.


Aussie great Todd Woodbridge refused to speak about Tomic after his 58-minute loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, saying Australia had "moved on" from the 26-year-old.

"Yeah, we're over it, let's not talk about him," Woodbridge said on Today.

Maybe Barty is of the same opinion. After all, players such as Kyrgios, Tsonga and American Sloane Stephens had no concerns voicing their opposition to Tomic being slapped with such a heavy penalty when asked, but the Aussie didn't bite.

Perhaps it's just in Barty's nature not to poke her nose in other people's business - an admirable trait - but could it be she just doesn't want to be associated with the drama Tomic brings with him everywhere?

The same goes for Kyrgios.

The 24-year-old has been full of praise for Barty whenever the topic's been broached with him, saying he always knew she was destined for greatness as they rose through the junior ranks together.

After her Roland Garros triumph the Canberra product said he "grew up" with Barty, travelling throughout Asia together as youngsters on tour.

That the two have known each other for so long, yet Barty declined to elaborate on any feelings she had about Kyrgios, positive or negative, when given the opportunity, was telling.

If she had any insights into Kyrgios or opinions about the player he's become - as you would expect of someone who's known him for years - Barty wasn't prepared to share them.


Barty's shortage of words on the pair also takes on an elevated meaning when you consider her comments about the bond of the Australian tennis community after John Millman won at Wimbledon.

"Yeah, it's always nice when you see them (fellow Australians) have a win. Especially for Johnny as a Queenslander, we both train at the same place at home," Barty said.

"Obviously we keep an eye on all of the other matches going on for Australians, singles, doubles, mixed. Usually there's an extra special interest when your countrymen and women are playing.

"In the same breath, we're also on different tours a lot of the time. It is nice to cross over in slams."

Based on Barty's brief responses, this "extra special interest" didn't seem to extend to Kyrgios and Tomic in London.

While the Queenslander opted not to expand on her opinion of Kyrgios, she had no such issue when quizzed about 15-year-old sensation Cori (Coco) Gauff who, as the youngest player to ever qualify for Wimbledon in the Open era, has become the talk of SW19 by progressing to the third round.

"Coco" Gauff has taken Wimbledon by storm. Picture: Ben Curtis/AP

"She's incredible. She really is. I saw her play a few years ago. What you see is just an incredible athlete. I think she's got a really good head on her shoulders. She seems very mature," Barty said.

"I haven't hit with her, had much to do with her. Just from the outside looking in, she seems like she's really enjoying her tennis.

"Looks like a big-game player. Loves the spotlight. Loves the moment. But also she's earned her way here. She earned her way through qualifying, played some exceptional tennis. I think she's going to have a very, very bright future."

It's perfectly understandable why Barty would have more to say about someone on the same tour as her compared to two men with different schedules. But just as she said she didn't mix with Kyrgios much, she also said she hadn't had much to do with Gauff either, yet she was much happier to elaborate on her than him.

Nick Kyrgios is far removed from Barty in temperament. Picture: Ella Pellegrini
Nick Kyrgios is far removed from Barty in temperament. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

It doesn't come as a shock Barty, or any player for that matter, would want to spend more time talking up the positives of the sport rather than reflecting on its sour notes. But again, it made her comparative silence on Kyrgios and Tomic all the more illuminating.


Of course, there's the possibility we're reading too much into this and Barty's lack of enthusiasm for talking about her compatriots was simply down to the businesslike attitude tennis podcaster Catherine Whitaker referenced during the French Open after interviewing the Aussie star before the final.

It's an attitude that's certainly been evident in the main interview room at the All England Club.

"I have to stay, I'm still team Barty, I still very much really like her and respect her, but I certainly do understand what (sports writer) Simon Briggs was on about yesterday with her being brusque," Whitaker said on an episode of The Tennis Podcast last month.

"She is quite brusque. She's not the gal in that famous photo of her with the trophy as a kid.

"She's … businesslike. She's incredibly polite, she answers your questions, briefly, but she's all business."

It's a business that Australia has invested heavily in as Barty has elevated herself to national hero status - both for her performances and the way she's handled her rise to super-stardom - and her stocks will only rise further if she's holding the trophy aloft on Centre Court come July 13.