Casey and Ash holding court
The first time they played together at a major they made it to the final, six months on Casey Dellacqu and Ash Barty are proving that this was not a one-off.
Since that spirited run to the Australian Open 2013 women’s doubles final, which ended in a three-set loss to top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, the Australian duo has combined successfully at Fed Cup level and last week they won their first WTA doubles title together at Birmingham.
“We did well in Birmingham a couple of weeks ago, which is always nice. So far we’ve had a good little relationship going and hopefully we can maybe get a few more wins this week, but we’ll just see how it goes,” says Barty.
So far this week the 12th-seeds won their first two matches, including today’s 6-4 6-1 victory over fifth seeds Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears.
“We played really well I thought,” says Dellacqua, at 28 the senior member of the team. “Once we got the first set we kind of punished them and put our authority on the court.”
“They’re a pretty solid team, they’ve won lots of tournaments together and they’re a solid pair, so I thought we did pretty well today.”
Watching these two on court you could be forgiven for thinking that they have played a lot of tennis together – but they havent’.
“We’ve only played a handful of tournaments together. Obviously the Australian Open helps and if you do well in the Slams it helps a lot,” said Barty.
“This is only our fourth tournament together this year,” chimes in Dellacqua.
What they lack in experience they make up for in on-court chemistry. The two always manage to laugh and joke together and have a great on-court rapport – a component of any successful doubles team.
“We have a bit of fun on the court and I think that’s a big part of it,” says Barty. “She’s a mate of mine, so it’s easy to go out there with your mate – you’ve got each other’s backs and you know what you’re doing.”
And Dellacqua, a former top 10 doubles player, welcomes the stability that comes with having a regular partner.
“It’s nice to play with someone on a regular basis. A few years ago when I was top 10 I was playing with different partners left, right and centre, still having good results, but it is nice to know that you’ve got your partner and we can practice some things.
“When we get out there I think we complement each other well, lift each other up and whatever we need to in every situation.”
Slightly curtailing the two though is the fact that 17-year-old Barty is on a restricted schedule due to her age. But with careful schedule planning, Barty is making the best of the situation.
Just two years ago Barty was contesting the girls’ championships as a 15-year-old. And with the juniors event on right now, does she miss it?
“Not at all,” Barty laughs. “It was amazing a couple of years ago playing here for the first time but now it’s a little different. Now I feel like I belong with the older girls and it’s a lot better.”
Up next for the Australians will be the winner out of second seeds Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka and Silvia Soler-Espinosa/Carla Suarez Navarro.