World no. 1 Ashleigh Barty will perform at the upcoming first Major of the season in Melbourne as one of the favorites for the title, hoping to deliver the first trophy for the home nation since 1978! Trying to keep the pressure and expectations far away, Ashleigh embraced two pre-Australian Open events in Brisbane and Adelaide, claiming her eighth WTA title at the latter to become the first Aussie champion on the home soil since Jarmila Wolfe in Hobart nine years ago.
Losing the opening set against Danielle Collins in the semi-final, Ashleigh bounced back to beat the American and set the clash with the young Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska, winning that one 6-2, 7-5 in an hour and 25 minutes to lift the trophy ahead of Melbourne trip and gather necessary confidence.
"It turned to be third time lucky, I suppose. The best part about this week is I fought and scraped my way through and got better and better in each situation, in each match," said Barty. "I just put myself in the position to play for another title, which is always exciting.
It's been incredible to play at home and a special week. It has been a great preparation in the last two weeks and I look forward to playing on Rod Laver Arena on Monday night. It's going to be exciting to compete at the Australian Open, as well; I have to start with my clean slate.
I think I enjoy the challenge and what next week will bring, regardless of what number is next to my name; it's a brilliant event to be a part of it. You only get to play so many Australian Opens, so I think for me it's about enjoying the competition and the challenge and focusing on what I can do.
I think there is not much else I have to worry about in that regard; if it's the first round, the final or anything between, it's still an amazing experience. I think I have to go out there and enjoy it."