Melbourne, Australia, 6 February 2021 | Leigh Rogers

Ten Australian women feature in this year’s Australian Open women’s singles draw. All are aiming to become the first local champion since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

Presenting our Aussie hopes …

Ash Barty, 24, Queensland
For the second year in a row, Barty is the top seed in the women’s singles draw. The Aussie handled the accompanying pressure with aplomb in 2020, enjoying a career-best semifinal run. That effort made her the first Australian player – man or woman – to make multiple singles quarterfinal appearances in Melbourne Park’s 31-year history. Contesting her eighth Australian Open main draw, the Roland Garros 2019 champion is making her first Grand Slam appearance in 13 months. Barty carries momentum into the tournament though, having advanced to the Yarra Valley Classic final at this week’s Melbourne Summer Series.
First-round opponent: World No.77 Danka Kovinic (Montenegro)
Head-to-head record: First career meeting

Ajla Tomljanovic, 27, Queensland
Australia’s No.2-ranked woman is making her seventh Australian Open main draw appearance. Tomljanovic’s best result at Melbourne Park is reaching the second round on three occasions (in 2014, 2015 and 2020). The world No.69 made an encouraging start to the season, advancing to the second round in singles and doubles semifinals in Abu Dhabi. It’s a promising sign that the powerful ball-striker can make an impact at AO 2021. Her opening-round opponent has a 1-6 career win-loss record at the Australian Open.
First-round opponent: World No.84 Misaki Doi (Japan)
Head-to-head record: Doi leads 1-0
Last meeting: Doi won 6-3 6-4 (Rome, 2015)

Sam Stosur, 36, Queensland
Highlighting her remarkable longevity, the No.112-ranked wildcard is making her 19th Australian Open main draw appearance. Stosur, who made her AO debut in 2002, has twice advanced to the fourth round – in 2006 and 2010. The former world No.4 has won seven Grand Slams in her career, including the US Open 2011 singles title and the AO 2019 doubles crown. Stosur is contesting her 66th Grand Slam, the seventh most of any woman in history. Yet remarkably, Stosur is facing a fellow Aussie player at the Australian Open for the first time in her career.
First-round opponent: World No.218 Destanee Aiava (Australia)
Head-to-head record: First career meeting

> READ: Australian Open 2021 draw revealed

Astra Sharma, 25, Western Australia
Melbourne Park has been the setting of several major career highlights for the No.129-ranked wildcard, who made her Grand Slam debut as a qualifier at Australian Open 2019. As well as advancing to the second round in singles that year, Sharma also reached the mixed doubles final alongside fellow Aussie John-Patrick Smith. In her third AO appearance, Sharma has her sights on even greater heights. Her first-round opponent is playing her first tour-level match since last year’s Roland Garros.
First-round opponent: World No.73 Nao Hibino (Japan)
Head-to-head record: First career meeting 

Maddison Inglis, 23, Western Australia
This is Inglis’ second Australian Open main draw appearance – and first since earning her 2016 debut as a teenage winner of the AO Wildcard Play-off. It follows a career-best season, with Inglis rising to a career-high ranking of No.112 last March. Other highlights included making her US Open and Roland Garros debuts. The improving 23-year-old, who is targeting a first Grand Slam main draw match win, has drawn the defending champion in the first round. This is the fourth time in her four Grand Slam appearances that the world No.130 has faced a seeded player in the opening round.
First-round opponent: World No.4 Sofia Kenin (United States)
Head-to-head record: First career meeting

> READ: Patience pays for Maddison Inglis

Lizette Cabrera, 23, Queensland
Growing up, the Townsville-born Cabrera used to attend the Australian Open every year as a fan. Now she’s set to make her fourth main draw appearance at Melbourne Park. The world No.140 earned a wildcard with her impressive results last season, which included defeating two top 65-ranked opponents in Hobart in January and shortly after peaking at a career-high of No.119. Cabrera, who is targeting a first Grand Slam main draw match win, is playing her first tour-level match against top 10-ranked opponent. 
First-round opponent: World No.2 Simona Halep (Romania)
Head-to-head record: First career meeting

> READ: Cabrera valuing every opportunity

Arina Rodionova, 31, Victoria
The supremely-fit Rodionova’s patience paid off when she scored her first Australian Open main draw win last summer. The Melbourne-based wildcard’s outstanding start to the 2020 season also included scoring three top-90 wins at the Adelaide International in January and winning a first WTA doubles title in February. The world No.169, who made her AO debut as a qualifier in 2011, is making her fifth main draw appearance. Rodionova’s first-round opponent is one of her best friends on tour. 
First-round opponent: World No.83 Madison Brengle (United States)
Head-to-head record: Brengle leads 3-0
Last meeting: Brengle won 6-2 6-2 (US Open, 2020)

Destanee Aiava, 20, Victoria
The big-hitting Aiava made her Australian Open debut as a 16-year-old in 2017 and became the first 2000s-born player to contest a Grand Slam main draw. The No.215-ranked wildcard, who is making her fourth AO appearance, memorably tested top seed Simona Halep in the first round at Melbourne Park in 2018. Aiava scored a first top-10 win against Aryna Sabalenka in the Netherlands in 2019, proving that she has the game to trouble the world’s best. Aiava is aiming to win her first Grand Slam main draw match against a tour veteran targeting her 93rd.
First-round opponent: World No.112 Sam Stosur (Australia)
Head-to-head record: First career meeting

> READ: 13 Aussie men leading local charge at AO 2021

Daria Gavrilova, 26, Victoria
Currently ranked No.452, Gavrilova has only contested three tour-level tournaments in the past 17 months due to injuries. But at Roland Garros last year, the former world No.20 proved she remains a threat with an opening-round victory over No.24 seed Dayana Yastremska. This is the former world No.1 junior’s seventh main draw Australian Open appearance. The Melbourne-based wildcard thrives at Melbourne Park, advancing to the fourth round in 2016 and 2017. Back at full fitness, Gavrilova is one to watch.
First-round opponent: World No.62 Sara Sorribes Tormo (Spain)
Head-to-head record: Gavrilova leads 1-0
Last meeting: Gavrilova won 6-0 6-0 (US Open, 2018)

Kimberly Birrell, 22, Queensland
Returning from an elbow injury that sidelined for her 20 months, Birrell is hoping to recapture the form that saw her reach the Australian Open third round in 2019 and peak at a career-high ranking of No.154 later that year. Receiving a late wildcard, this is Birrell’s third AO main draw appearance. Determined to make the most of the opportunity, the world No.747 has nothing to lose – a mindset that makes her a dangerous opponent. She plays a 30-year-old qualifier returning from an almost five-year retirement and contesting her first Grand Slam main draw since AO 2013. 
First-round opponent: World No.316 Rebecca Marino (Canada)
Head-to-head record: First career meeting

> VIEW: Full Australian Open 2021 women’s singles draw

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