I'm fortunate to be able to say I've met a couple of world number one tennis players in my time. Ash Barty, current women's number one, is not like any of them. She has no star vibes as such. No X Factor. No celebrity aura. What she carries with herself, which comes across in person, is more powerful and rarer than that. It's total ease with herself. And a level of self-belief, to back herself in every word she says. It's borderline frightening. All answers are direct, honest, sincere. This one, for example. I'd asked, "Is Serena Williams intimidating to play against?" The response was instantaneous: "She is," and with this a squint and a nod. "The first time. But not the second." This answer frames exactly why the 23-year-old Australian is the best player in the world. She has a rock-solid self-belief. She has no doubt she is up where she belongs. The Number 1 seed for the Australian Open next month, who lists Alicia Molik, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin as her heroes, has steel in her eyes. Friend of Time+Tide and tennis commentator Miguel Seabra describes her this way: "She's a great player. Or should…

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