Barty licks wounds with tennis legends
Ash Barty described it as "the best company" as she caught up with Aussie tennis legends Pat Rafter and Dylan Alcott for a beer in the wake of her shattering early exit at Melbourne Park.
Barty's hopes of winning her first home grand slam went up in smoke in a quarterfinal defeat against Karolina Muchova and she would have found at least one sympathetic ear in the star trio.
Rafter didn't exactly have a fond relationship with the Australian Open, failing to make it past the fourth round in his first eight attempts. He finally surged into a semi-final in 2001 - the same year Anna Kournikova created a stampede in Melbourne - but suffered a heartbreaking defeat to eventual champion Andre Agassi after leading two sets to one.
Alcott is a completely different kettle of fish.
The 30-year-old has won the quad singles every year since 2015, securing his seventh home title and 12th grand slam overall with a 6-1 6-0 win against Sam Schroder this week.
Surprisingly he was the only one without a beer in his hand in this photograph Barty posted to her Instagram.
There's been sobering predictions for Barty's career after she fell apart against Muchova, after the Czech 25th seed took a controversial medical time-out.
But the world number one made no excuses and is now preparing to spend the rest of 2021 on the road as she chases more titles.
Barty's coach Craig Tyzzer said she planned on playing a full schedule this year, including the postponed Tokyo Olympics, that might see her on the road until Christmas.
"Because of the quarantine arrangements here, we won't come back for a while," Tyzzer said of Australia's mandatory 14-day quarantine for incoming travellers.
"We're hoping that we'll set up some sort of base somewhere probably in Europe where we can at least switch off.
"She's pretty keen to play (at the Tokyo Games). We're hoping for her that goes ahead."
Originally published as Barty licks wounds with tennis legends