Tennis great whacks ‘poorest’ Aussie star
ON the same day tennis legend Martina Navratilova declared Aussie star Ash Barty a "champion" - tennis great Ion Tiriac went a different way.
The former French Open champion slammed Barty's breakthrough French Open final triumph as the "poorest" decider he has seen at Roland Garros.
Barty's life has been changed forever by her stunning performance in Paris earlier this month where she was crowned a grand slam champion for the first time with a 6-1 6-3 win over Marketa Vondrousova.
However, Tiriac, a former top 10 player on the men's ATP Tour and a Romanian billionaire, didn't see it that way.
He told local Romanian news GSP that he walked out on Barty's final against her teenage Czech opponent because he was getting frustrated by the level of tennis on display.
He said he left the centre court after just four service games.
"The Roland Garros women's final was one of the poorest I've ever seen," he said in Romanian.
"Please excuse my sincerity. It was not one that excited me. I had to go after four games. I did it."
Tiriac, a former mentor of former World No. 1 Simona Halep - who is coached by Aussie Darren Cahill - said there are many players more exciting to watch than Barty.
Singling out Halep, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova as the most exciting players to watch on the WTA Tour, Tiriac said he had no time for Barty.
He said the 23-year-old Aussie's "only one merit" is that she comes from Australia where he claims players have a strong history of mastering the technical aspects of the sport.
He does, however, also think Australian people don't know how to read or write.
"Now comes Barty, who has only one merit - she's an Australian" he said.
"They do not know how to write or read, but every time someone comes from there, they come out with technical knowledge from A to Z."
While Tiriac took his swipe at the reigning grand slam champion, tennis legend Martina Navratilova was declaring Barty a real chance of winning Wimbledon.
Navratilova said Barty's crazy ability to change up her game and confuse her opponent made her just as dangerous as power-hitters like Williams heading into the most prestigious tournament of the year at the All England Club.
"All of this variety can really get into an opponent's head and create confusion and some cheap mistakes on her opponent's side," Navratilova said, according to The Herald Sun.
"On top of all that, Barty's also the best athlete on the WTA Tour - the fact she excelled at cricket during her time away from tennis shows what a great athlete she is.
"Now Barty has great belief in her game.
"Her confidence is going to be sky high after winning the French Open.
"Of course, when big hitters such as Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka or Petra Kvitova are on, that would be hard for Barty to deal with, as it would be for anyone else.
"But I believe Barty is going to be very tough to beat at Wimbledon."
Aussie star Nick Kyrgios on Tuesday morning also declared Barty the woman to beat at Wimbledon.
Kyrgios says he is not surprised by the sudden rise of a player he has known since they travelled the world together as juniors.
"I think she's probably the most talented tennis player I have seen in a long time," said Kyrgios ahead of his participation at Queen's Club in London this week.
"I played juniors with her. I grew up with her. Literally we were travelling to Thailand through Asia and playing juniors.
"She was raking up titles in juniors. I always knew that she was going to be a champion at some stage, just how bad she wanted it.
"Obviously she took that break to get her mind right and step back from the sport, and then she came back and was so dominant. I actually think she's probably one of the favourites for Wimbledon, for sure."
- with wires