EXCLUSIVE: Mats Wilander puts Andy Murray and Ash Barty on the same level
Mats Wilander has drawn comparisons between former world number ones Andy Murray and the newly-retired Ashleigh Barty.
The seven-time Slam champion and Warner Bros. Discovery expert further suggested to Tennishead that current world number one Iga Swiatek could attain the same stature and mentality of the Brit and Aussie.
While Barty did not complete the Career Grand Slam before retiring aged 25, she did win Majors on all three Slam surfaces: hard courts, clay courts and grass courts.
Wilander said of the 25-year-old: “Ash Barty, the way she plays is problem-solving from the first point to the last.
“That’s why she can win on all different surfaces.
“Because she has to think her way through every single point just like Andy Murray has to think his way through every single point.”
According to Wilander, such a thoughtful way of playing tennis requires full awareness.
Moreover, a player must have the ability to back themself completely.
He explained further: “When your motivation is down a bit or your confidence in your own problem-solving skills waivers.
“If you don’t feel it in your heart anymore and you actually have to logically think about them in your brain, I think it becomes a problem to win tennis matches.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a first round match, or on grass, or your opponent is left-handed.
“You start to doubt your [abilities] a little bit then you’re done as a problem-solving player, which is what Barty was.”
As contrast, Wilander compared the style of Barty to that of 23-time Major champion Serena Williams.
Williams, like Barty, has won Slams on all different surfaces, but Serena has done it three times over, having three Roland Garros singles crowns to her name.
Wilander said: “[On the other hand] when you play tennis the way Serena Williams plays tennis, it’s more about ‘if I play my best game, I’m going to win.’
“With Barty playing the best game was not an option, she had to play the right game.
“And to play the right game you have to feel it in your heart.”
Wilander believes that Barty is not unique in this regard, just that she was particularly exceptional.
He groups himself when he was playing in that same category, along with fellow three-time Major singles champion Murray.
In his own show of consistency, Murray has reached the final of all four Slams at least once in his career, winning Wimbledon twice and the US Open once.
In the six final losses the 35-year-old has suffered across Roland Garros and the Australian Open, all six came against either Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer.
He lost to Djokovic at Roland Garros in 2016 and in Melbourne in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
Murray lost to Federer in the 2010 Australian Open final.
Wilander added on Murray: “And he’s coming back, he’s proving to himself that he’s interested in winning matches and solving the problem.
“That’s got to be the biggest confidence boost that you can ever have, to realise that you actually care about how this next point is being played.
“You care deeply in your heart about how you tactically need to go forward.”
Tennishead also asked Wilander if he thinks current WTA world number one Swiatek can achieve the same kind of surface versatility as Barty.
Mentally with Swiatek he is not so sure, but physically he does back the Pole.
He answered: “Physically Iga Swiatek can adjust to playing her best tennis on all surfaces.
“Whether she can win [on all surfaces] or not I’m not sure.”
The 20-year-old has already shown that she can win on the biggest stage on clay with her 2020 Roland Garros title and possibly another on the way in 2022.
While she has also won three successive hard court WTA 1000 events so far in 2022, she is yet to clinch a Major on the surface.
Moreover, Wimbledon in June and July with give Swiatek a chance to show her best on the grass as number one in the world.
Watch every match from Roland-Garros live and exclusive on discovery+ and Eurosport.
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