Gold Coast local Kim Birrell is riding an all-time high following her come-from-behind victory over world number 10 Daria Kastkina on Monday afternoon in the first round of the 2019 Brisbane International.
Birrell lost the first set and was down a break at 3-5 in the third before clawing her way back to a 5-7 6-4 7-6 victory.
“I don’t know if I can put it into words,” she beamed. “So many emotions.”
The 20 year-old faced a battle with cramp late in the third set, admitting to being fearful over whether or not she would see the match out.
“I was trying to talk myself out of it,” she laughed. “I couldn’t believe I cramped before her. I’m an Aussie, that shouldn’t be happening!”
However, the familiarity Birrell has with her surroundings put her in good stead to get over the line. She trains daily at the Queensland Tennis Centre and believes that is a big reason for her victory on New Year’s Eve.
“This is my home, and I’m used to the conditions,” she said. “I’m used to the conditions, and that’s absolutely an advantage us Aussies have going into the Aussie summer.”
The heat and humidity on court played Birrell’s favour at the end of the day, as she won the tiebreaker 7-5 in the third set tie breaker after overturning a break with Kasatkina serving for the match.
“I was just telling myself it wasn’t over.”
Birrell was cheered on by a boisterous packed-out Show Court 1 crowd, something that was not lost on her in her efforts to win through to the second round.
“They helped me so much,” she said. “I don’t know if I could have gotten through it at the end without everyone’s support and energy.”
The world number 283 comes from a proud tennis family. Her parents run a tennis club on the Gold Coast, while her grandfather built a court on the family farm for her mother to play as a child. Needless to say, tennis has always been in her blood, and having won through to the main draw of the Australian open through the wildcard playoffs, she is well on her way to cracking into the upper-echelons of women’s tennis. It goes without saying that the last month has been nothing short of monumental for Kim Birrell.
Tonight she faces current world number 27 Lesia Tsurenko in the last match on Show Court 1.
Tickets to the Brisbane International are on sale via Ticketek.