Melbourne, Australia, 15 January 2012 | Natalie Yoannidis
A mixture of excitement and nerves have hit rising star Ash Barty ahead of her grand slam debut tomorrow.
The 15-year-old, who was on hand to officially open ANZ World at Grand Slam Oval today, will play Georgian Anna Tatishvili in the first round of the Australian Open.
This will be the first time Barty has faced the world No. 83 but said she was looking forward to the challenge.
“I think there are always nerves and tomorrow I’ll probably be a little bit worse,” Barty said.
“I’m fourth on [Showcourt 2] so I’ll be able to get out there and soak in the atmosphere a little bit before I go out and play which will be good,”
“This time last year I was extremely nervous, playing in my first Junior slam so it’s a bit of a different scenario now playing in the main draw but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Barty secured her spot in the Australian Open main draw in December after defeating the likes of Casey Dellacqua and Olivia Rogowska in the Australian wildcard playoff.
Her side of the draw includes world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, last year’s Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters and former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic.
The Queensland teenager played in the qualifying event at the Brisbane International and then in the main draw of the Moorilla Hobart International in the lead up to the Australian Open.
Despite losing in the first round to American Bethanie Mattek- Sands in Hobart, Barty said playing in the tournament provided her with valuable experience against more experienced opponents.
“It’ll be my third top 100 player that I’ve played in three weeks so hopefully I’m improving every time I play them and I can play a really good match tomorrow and see how it goes,” she said.
Barty has also spent time training with more highly ranked players including Czech Lucie Safarova to familiarise herself with the higher standard of tennis required in a Grand Slam event.
The 2011 season was a breakout one for Barty on the junior circuit where she finished the year as the No.2 ranked junior in the world.
After suffering losses in the first round of the 2011 Australian Open Juniors and the second round at Roland Garros she went on to win the girls’ title at Wimbledon.
This was followed by a semifinal appearance in the US Open juniors before taking out the 18s National Championship at the end of the year.
Barty is just one in a list of exciting prospects in Australian tennis which includes AAMI Classic winner Bernard Tomic and fellow junior Wimbledon Champion Luke Saville.
Barty said she was optimistic about the future of the sport in Australia.
“I think Australian tennis has been struggling a bit the last couple of years but hopefully we’ve got a good generation coming up and hopefully we can do well.”
Barty said she was also honoured by the recent comparisons made between herself and the Swiss Miss Martina Hingis.
“If I achieved anything or half of what see did then I’d think my career was a success.”