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Unsung hero: The man who helped take Barty from disillusioned talent to world beater

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Coach Craig Tyzzer is being hailed as the “unsung hero” of Ash Barty’s incredible rise from disillusioned tennis talent to all-conquering world No.1.

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Barty is on the cusp of ending the country’s 44-year wait for another home-bred Australian Open singles champion after marching into Saturday night’s final without dropping a set.

Her vanquished semi-final opponent Madison Keys says the top-seeded Wimbledon champion is proving almost unplayable this summer and Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup captain Alicia Molik believes that’s as much down to Tyzzer as Barty herself.

“Such a huge amount of credit needs to be given to ‘Tyz’ because it can be delicate with a world No.1,” Molik, an ambassador for sustainable tennis clubs, told AAP at Melbourne Park.

“You can just say, ‘Right, let’s just keep things the same’.

“Well, no, they as a team, the two of them, work that well that they keep getting better. It’s unbelievable, it’s mind-blowing.

“She’s very wise, she’s such an astute tennis player and person that when she’s on court she knows what she’s working on and why.

“It’s not a matter of hitting balls for no reason. There’s always purpose and reason behind what’s she’s doing both for her and for Tyz as well.

“He’s been amazing because he’s found such a complete player, but he’s found so many ways for Ash to get better.

“He’s really an unsung hero.”

Anything but unsung to Barty, the dual grand slam champion lauded Tyzzer as a “magician” for his ability to devise game plans and break down her opponents.

“He’s able to look at a lot of different matches, look at some key matches, and recent, some old, and work our plan out, looking at different conditions and things like that,” the Wimbledon champion said after trouncing Keys 6-1 6-3 in 62 minutes.

“He’s the man that does all the work. I just get to go out there and try and have fun with it.”

Tyzzer modestly played down his role, saying he hit jackpot when asked to coach Barty in 2016 following her return from an 18-month sabbatical from tennis.

“Yeah, look, I’m pretty lucky to work with an athlete like Ash, I must admit,” the humble mentor said.

“She’s the best athlete I’ve ever worked with, the best tennis player I’ve ever worked with.

“To have her, as a coach, is a bit of a dream in that you can put things together and she’s able to execute that stuff out on the court. That makes a big difference with your coaching.

“I’m privileged every day to work with Ash. Very lucky with what I do.”

But to the top-ranked player, the rest of Team Barty is “equally important” to her successes.

Like “Captain” Tyzzer, manager Nikki Mathias, mindset coach Ben Crowe, trainers Mark Taylor and Matthew Hayes, Molik and trusted physio Melanie Omizzolo — who nursed an injured Barty through last summer before her triumphant Wimbledon campaign — have all been with the Queenslander over the past six years.

Then there’s her fiance Garry Kissick, parents Josie and Robert, sisters Sara and Ali, nieces Lucy and Liv and nephew Oscar, while Barty’s junior coaches Jim Joyce and Jason Stoltenberg remain very much part of the 25-year-old’s wider support crew.

“We’re all equal,” Barty said.

“We all play our roles, and the most amazing thing is we all communicate really well together and get along with each other and know when it’s time to back off and relax and then when it’s time to switch on and really have a crack.

“The experiences we’ve been able to share together have been remarkable, for my whole team.

“Starts with my family, my sisters. Obviously my professional team who contribute so much time and energy into my career and help me try and live out my dreams.

“I genuinely cannot thank them enough for the time and effort they put in to someone else.”

 

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