London, Great Britain, 2 July 2024 | Dan Imhoff

Alex de Minaur and Daria Saville spearhead an 18-strong contingent of Australians stepping onto Wimbledon’s green lawns in main draw action over the coming fortnight.

Primed to contest the season’s third Grand Slam event before the throng of fans that manage to snag a ticket to the traditional home of tennis, they haven’t ended up there by chance.

All are the product of exceptional dedication, a realisation that talent only takes them so far, that fitness, mental strategies and, above all, practice help earn their respective places in the main draws at majors.

We sat down with some of our Aussie Wimbledon talent, past and present, to hear their top training tips to share with our AO Holiday Programs, presented by Weet-Bix™️.

Former world No.20 Saville has showed an encouraging return to form, including a quarterfinal in San Diego in March.

The 30-year-old, who has more than halved her ranking to be back on the cusp of the top 80 following her return last year from a second knee surgery, said it was crucial to have intentions in practice.

“I wouldn’t expect a 12-year-old to have intentions to be honest, I probably didn’t at that age, but at least having three things that you want to get out of the session would be way more valuable than just hitting for the sake of hitting,” she said. “I average about two to two-and-a-half hours a day, six times a week.”

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Australia’s third-ranked men’s singles player, Alexei Popyrin, broke into the top 40 earlier this year and cited a practice session with a three-time Grand Slam champion as a teenager as his most memorable as an up-and-comer.

“One of the first practices I had with a top-10 player was with Stan Wawrinka when I was about 17 or 18 years old,” he said. “I remember comparing how good my game was compared to his – and I was quite a way away.”

Popyrin, who outlasted Wawrinka to claim his second tour title in Croatia a year ago, said focus was key for any aspiring player aiming to maximise their practice sessions.

“It’s not just about one practice session either, it’s about the consistency and buckling down to practise with full intensity every single day,” he said. “Listening to your parents and coaches is also important.”

Like Saville, 28-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis has rebounded from his share of injury setbacks.

The South Australian, who named hitting with Roger Federer in Dubai and with Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros as a 16-year-old as his moment memorable training sessions, understood what it took to work his way back.

“Make sure you stay engaged and keep enjoying it,” he said. “It’s better off doing a shorter practice that is intense, rather than just staying on the court for the sake of it and not really working on anything.”

A year-end doubles world No.1 last year, Storm Hunter remembers being nervous training with her good friend Ash Barty as it meant she suddenly had the chance to hit at the biggest stadiums on tour.

The self-confessed early bird said she preferred to train of a morning and enjoyed some variety in her practice sessions.

“I feel like if we keep everything the same, then I can get a little bit bored,” Hunter said. “But at the same time, you need to do the same thing over and over again to be happy to be able to do that in a match.”

Ben Weekes has represented Australia at five Paralympic Games in wheelchair tennis dating back to Athens 2004, and he has his sights set a record sixth appearance in Paris.

The 39-year-old, who has been as high as world No.10, said he relished training in a squad environment with fellow player Anderson Parker and emphasised the need put in the work off the court.

“I don’t really love the gym,” he said. “It’s something that I do so that I don’t get injured. I put in the hard work, but it’s not the most enjoyable. I’d rather be outside working on the tennis side of things.”

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