Dellacqua with unfinished business
Back on court after a serious concussion and reunited with friend Ash Barty in doubles, Casey Dellacqua hopes to determine her own path as she attempts a doubles comeback.
Rocked by the side-effects of a sickening on-court concussion, Australian tennis stalwart Casey Dellacqua has staved off retirement thoughts to go out with a bang of her own making.
Dellacqua has revealed unfinished business is on her mind – largely in the form of a women’s Grand Slam doubles title – as she makes her competitive return to the game at the Brisbane International.
The popular 31-year-old West Australian will rekindle her successful partnership with comeback kid Ash Barty in the doubles at Pat Rafter Arena after both were forced to face their mental demons.
For rising talent Barty, it was a battle with depression which saw her briefly switch sports to cricket.
For “big sister” Dellacqua, it was anxiety following the symptoms of her concussion at Beijing’s China Open in October 2015.
The Fed Cup regular, ranked as high as world No.26 in singles in 2014, played just one WTA singles match in 2016 as she struggled to cope with the concussion side-effects.
“I couldn’t get out of the house and things were quite overwhelming for me,” she said on Friday.
“My doctor said it’s OK, it’s all normal and it’s just your brain rebooting … but it was quite scary to feel things you have never experienced before.”
Dellacqua, who won a mixed doubles crown at the French Open in 2011, has made a string of major finals in women’s doubles but has never experienced holding aloft the champions’ trophy.
She admits that, and enjoying the game again, is driving her rather than any immediate dream of playing singles again.
“I’m 31 now and there were definitely thoughts of retiring that popped up a lot,” the left-hander said.
“But I just finished 2015 off so good … and I just feel like there’s a little bit of unfinished business and I want to go out on my terms.”
Barty has gained a wildcard into the singles main draw where world No.1 Angelique Kerber will start as favourite in a strong field featuring five of the top 10.
Dellacqua expects her 20-year-old partner to blossom in her second coming.
“She’s like a little sister to me,” she said. “It’s great to see her back healthy and happy.”
In qualifying, Aussie teen Destanee Aiava stands one match from the main draw after beating Spanish veteran Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez for the loss of just two games.
It was her second win in under an hour in as many days; the 16-year-old beat last year’s Brisbane semifinalist Samantha Crawford 6-0 6-4 in the first round.
Fellow Aussies Lizette Cabrera and Arina Rodionova fell in the second round.
For all tournament information, visit brisbaneinternational.com.au.