Australian Open: Barty hails 'inspiration' Alcott

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Ash Barty paid tribute to Dylan Alcott after the wheelchair tennis player ended his glittering career with defeat in the Australian Open final.

Alcott, who is the only man to complete a 'golden slam' in quad singles, and has won 23 major titles in total, is retiring at the age of 31.

He lost 7-5 6-0 to Sam Schroder in the final match of his career, as his bid for an eighth straight Australian Open title fell just short.

Alcott, who has been named Australian of the Year, won all four grand slams last year and also took gold in the Paralympic Games, defending his title from 2016.

His run to yet another final in Melbourne has been a remarkable story, and Barty – the WTA world number one who reached the women's singles final by beating Madison Keys in straight sets on Thursday – hailed her inspirational compatriot.

"Dylan for me is at the forefront of that, he has inspired a nation, inspired the whole globe," said Barty when asked about the success Australians are enjoying at the season's opening grand slam.

"We were watching his match today. I was with my physio and when he was giving his acceptance speech, we were both crying.

"I was like, I need to get out there and get ready, get my game on, but to watch Dylan and for him be able to share that moment with so many people here...

"The way that he and the Australian Open have opened up the opportunities for more disabled people all around the world to play tennis and have a go is just exceptional, I couldn't be more proud of him."

Barty and Alcott are just part of an impressive 2022 tournament for home favourites. Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis will face countrymen Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell in the men's doubles final, while Jason Kubler and Jaimee Fourlis are into the mixed doubles final.

"Unreal, honestly it's just incredible," said Barty on becoming the first Australian to reach the women's singles final since 1980. "I love coming out here and playing in the Australian Open.

"As an Aussie, we're exceptionally spoilt that we're a grand slam nation and get to play at home, in our back yard. I'm just happy that I get to play my best tennis here. I enjoy it, I've played well before and now I have the chance to play for a title. It's unreal."

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