Ash Barty knows what you’re thinking: she’s world No.1, so should win every match.
But Barty says the public expectation will never stack up with reality as she grapples with a second shock loss in a week and an injury niggle that will see her miss next week’s Qatar Open.
Barty’s Adelaide International title defence crashed at the first hurdle with a straight-sets loss to American Danielle Collins.
Collins won 6-3 6-4 at Memorial Drive on Wednesday night as Barty twice conceded five consecutive games to the American world No.37.
Barty’s sudden exit came seven days after her upset Australian Open quarter-final defeat to Karolina Muchova.
And she later pulled out of next week’s WTA tournament, citing a leg injury and suggesting in a statement that she’ll be ready to compete in Miami late next month.
But rather than signal a downturn, Barty says the defeats are simply part and parcel of playing on the professional circuit.
“You know that there are no easy matches going into any tournament,” Barty said.
“From an expectation of a public point of view, I think that (winning all the time) is their views and that’s their opinions and they are 100 per cent able to voice those.
“But I think from a playing perspective, it’s about what do we expect from us as players and what do we bring to the court each day. We bring the right professionalism and prepare in the right way.
“And in the end, the result, it just is what it is, it’s not always going to go your way.
“You can’t win every single tennis match. But you can sure as hell approach it the right way.
“And from my team and from me, we did that this week and we just didn’t quite get that result.”
Barty will now take stock before deciding if, where and when she will play again outside of Australia.
The Queenslander was absent from the world tour for almost 12 months before returning to competitive play on February 2 – she has since played 11 matches in 22 days.
“We will sit down like we always do at the end of a match after a tournament and look at what is next,” she said.
“I will have that discussion with my team in the next day or so to work out as best we can what we will do moving forward.
“Obviously it’s an ever-changing world that we’re living in now, things can change quite dramatically quite quickly.”
Barty, who had been struggling with a thigh strain throughout the Australian Open, reported later on Wednesday: “Unfortunately I have withdrawn from the Qatar Total Open with a left leg injury.
“I wish the tournament a safe and successful event and hope to play there next year.
“Thank you to the event organisers and the WTA for all the work you are doing, I look forward to competing again in Miami in a few weeks time.”
Organisers of April’s Porsche Grand Prix are also evidently confident Barty will be in Stuttgart for their star-studded opening to the clay court season.
They announced on Wednesday that Barty would be joined there by second-ranked Simona Halep and newly-crowned Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka.
Organisers also quoted Barty as saying: “Stuttgart will be a great way to begin my European clay swing … I am really looking forward to playing the event for the first time.”