In a women’s draw boasting the names of the tennis world’s biggest powerhouses, Australian wildcard Casey Dellacqua would be excused for feeling dwarfed by the names around her.
But the current world No.131 feels she has one thing that those names don’t: match practice.
Taking time off throughout the year, the 28-year-old has combined her offseason training with the wildcard playoff in Melbourne as well as winning performances at tournaments in Bendigo, which she believes gives her the edge in the first tournament of the year.
“I think it’s a real advantage to know that I’ve had those matches and a lot of the girls are pretty nervous first round of the season, so hopefully I can carry on the confidence that I’ve had over the last few weeks and carry that into my match,” Dellacqua said.
Drawing her name at the official draw this morning against Kazakhstani Galina Voskoboeva in round one, the Perth product would face a second-round match up against world No.2 and reigning Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka.
But, Dellacqua is no stranger to an upset, overcoming 15th-seed Patty Schnyder and 2006 champion and former world No.1 Amélie Mauresmo en route to an heroic fourth-round result at Australian Open 2008 that launched her career success.
“There are no easy matches, especially at this level. I’ll just try and do what I do well and hopefully I can win. It’d be great to start the year off with a win and if I get the chance to play my next opponent and get through a few matches, that’d be great.”
Despite slipping outside the top 100 in singles, Dellacqua reached three of the four Grand Slam women’s doubles finals in 2013 alongside fellow Australian Ashleigh Barty, and it’s just a matter of time before her singles results follow suit.
But, Dellacqua’s first hurdle of the tournament is attempting to hide her sheepish smiles when she bumps into Roger Federer in the hallways – unintentional or otherwise.
“It’s pretty cool isn’t it? Obviously as a professional tennis player I still secretly, don’t tell him, get star struck every time I walk past him in the locker rooms.”