Winning a Grand Slam title is always tough. To claim it for the great tennis nation that awaits the crown at home for more than 40 years is even harder! Back in 1978, Chris O'Neil conquered the Australian Open as the last Australian player with a Major trophy on the home soil, with eyes of the entire continent set on world no.
1 Ashleigh Barty who is among the favorites in Melbourne from January 20. The Ipswich native returned to tennis in 2016 and made fantastic progress, finishing in the top-20 in 2017 and 2018 before conquering the WTA throne in the season behind us, claiming the first Major crown at Roland Garros last June.
Besides that, Ashleigh was the champion in Miami, Birmingham and the WTA Finals, confirming the year-end no. 1 status in Shenzhen and preparing for the new season that she kicks off in Brisbane next week. Barty will try to reach the optimal form in Brisbane and Adelaide ahead of the ultimate test in Melbourne where she will have to deal with both the rivals and expectations of the entire nation.
Former Australian Open quarter-finalist Jelena Dokic stands behind Ashleigh on that potential historic run, praising her compatriot and her consistency and the ability to deal with the pressure in the notable matches, something that should help her at home Major that starts in 20 days.
Last January, Barty lost to Petra Kvitova in the quarter-final in Melbourne, seeking deeper campaign this time around and to write history for one of the greatest tennis nations. "Ashleigh Barty is the Australian Open favorite for me.
I think she's one of the most consistent players, having a steady run in 2019," Dokic said. "She's made a breakthrough at the Australian Open last year with that quarter-final result and hasn't looked back.
That's why I think she's got a real chance in Australia. She's been dealing with pressure so well and I think she can do it here at home; use the crowd and win it here at home." "There's no pressure at all.
My team and I have had incredible success but we worked damn hard to get those results," Barty said. "The only thing I am worried about this week is playing in Brisbane, knowing if I do the right things, it will put me in good stead for the next month at the Australian Open."