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How do I vote for the ‘Barty Party’?

By Graham Young - posted Friday, 4 February 2022

In the contrasts between Ash Barty and Nick Kyrgios we see a little of the divisions that rend modern Australian life.

While I’m loathe to use sports stars as moral or ethical exemplars – regarding most of them as ‘knobs’ (a term recently applied to Kyrgios) – sometimes the stars rise above the physical and show us perfections that transcend sport.

Such is the case of Barty. Not only does she exemplify moral virtues, but these are virtues that were thought to inform the ideal Australian culture. While we think of them in terms of our British heritage, they have a much longer pedigree rooted in Greece and Israel.


Watching Barty play is a study in understatement and application. Her physical style is laconic, in parts and stoic in others.

There is no fuss or flourish about any of her play, it is just deadly. She hit the ball harder than just about anyone in the tournament, particularly her second serve, but you wouldn’t know it if it wasn’t for the court-side speed clock.

There are no grunts and screams, just force by mass and acceleration. Function perfectly expressed in form.

When Barty was down 1-5 in the second set after winning the first 6-3, I thought she would probably let that set go, and conserve herself for the third and deciding set.

I was wrong. She clawed all the way back to win 7-6. How do you do this?

It is easy to say she must have supreme self-belief but having watched her play I think it is actually a deeper and more powerful set of beliefs than belief in self.


That’s where the stoic comes in. The four stoic virtues are wisdom, courage, justice/truth, and temperance.

Barty is not an automaton, tuned better than her rivals to do one thing and wearing them down over time. She reads and understands the game and her opponents. She is wise.

She understands that you should only worry about the things you can control, and that thing is the next point, not what happened with the previous point.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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