Melbourne, Australia, 28 March 2013 | Matt Trollope


Victory in the Australian Open Play-off, stellar play at the world No.4 Agnieszka Radwanska at Australian Open 2013 have given Bojana Bobusic her best-ever start to a season. And she’s not content to stop there.

Having come off court following a 7-5, 6-0 loss to No.4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the first round at Melbourne Park this year, Bojana Bobusic was refreshingly upbeat.

“(I) feel pretty good. Thought I had a pretty good crack, and obviously the first set was really close and I had a couple of opportunities. I had a great time playing on Margaret Court (Arena),” she enthused.

“I love playing in front of a crowd, and when I get fired up they get fired up … walking out on court today was such abuzz, and I loved every minute of it.”

The 25-year-old Australian had entered Australian Open 2013 thanks to winning the Australian Open Play-off during the December Showdown at Melbourne Park. The reward for her exploits was a wildcard into the main draw, something she’d also received in 2012.

But this year was different. The Perth resident had earned her place with a tournament victory, instead of through the discretionary wildcard that saw her face 30th seed Angelique Kerber 12 months prior. The fact that Bobusic beat prodigious Ashleigh Barty in the Play-off quarterfinals and overwhelmed top 200 foe Monique Adamczak in the final was a significant confidence boost.

That confidence spilled over into the new year. At the Brisbane International, she beat Karin Knapp and Kristyna Pliskova – both ranked just outside the top 100 – to qualify for the main draw and stretched top 50 star Alize Cornet to three sets in the opening round. She narrowly missed another great result in Hobart, falling in a third-set tiebreak to then-91st ranked Lauren Davis.

“The goal is 2013, not necessarily this tournament, so it’s just trying to put everything in perspective and work on specific things in my game and trying to get a good start for 2013,” Bobusic said following her Australian Open Play-off win. “It’s great that it’s just all starting to come together.”

She had certainly shown that with her results in the Australian summer. And she very nearly took a big leap further at Melbourne Park.

Staring down an opponent who already owned two 2013 titles and a nine-match winning streak coming into the Australian Open, Bobusic matched the fourth-ranked Radwanska, even serving for the opening set and coming within two points of clinching it. Yet the Pole’s trademark guile shone through and she escaped, running away with the last nine games of the match.

Rather than bemoan her two tough Australian Open draws – especially given Kerber has since joined Radwanska in the top 10 – Bobusic saw it as an opportunity.

“I want to play Fed Cup for Australia one day, and if I’m going to play then I’m going to have to play players like Aga (Radwanska), so I’ll take the challenge,” she said.

“She’s the highest ranked player I’ve ever played in my career, and knowing that I was so close in that first set is a bit of incentive to keep working harder and getting better. She’s obviously a world class player, so I’m pretty happy with my performance today and hopefully I can just keep going.”

Read the full feature in the April issue of Australian Tennis Magazine.