We all like to root for the hometown hero. At the professional level, that looks a little different. It could be LeBron playing for Cleveland and representing all of Ohio. Or it could be even larger like the two Australian hopefuls with a shot at winning the Australian Open: Ashleigh Barty and Alex de Minaur.
So Australian tennis fans are putting their support behind their biggest hopes to end the drought this year. Both Barty and de Minaur have a shot at bringing home the trophy. The pressure is on.
Barty is going into her sixth Australian Open in good shape. She is currently ranked at 15th in the world and is coming off a win at the WTA Elite Trophy. She has the whole of Australia cheering for her, but she seems to be staying cool under the pressure. Barty likes to keep the advice of Billie Jean King in mind. King said that pressure is a privilege. When you look at it that way, it’s not nearly as scary.
Barty welcomes the pressure of being Australia’s hope of winning the Open. She agrees that she does feel the weight of it but the support of the fans makes a big difference as well. And she has her success to boost her confidence too. After the 2018 season, there is no question that Barty is a top 20 player and here to stay.
Alex de Minaur
Alex de Minaur is a bit greener than Ash Barty but he made quite a name for himself in 2018, winning the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. He is now ranked at 31. This is quite remarkable considering that he began the 2018 season ranked 208th. An impossible climb of 177 places somehow proved doable for the young Australian.
Alex de Minaur really came on the scene last summer at the Australian Open. He says he gained a lot of confidence from playing in the tournament and counting himself as one of the top players, or at least someone with potential to be on top.
Playing against some of the best players in the sport has shown de Minaur that he deserves to be where he is. He didn’t fare too well against Rafael Nadal, but that is to be expected. Just playing against Nadal was a great learning experience for de Minaur. However, he did play impressively against Marin Cilic in a match that went five sets. He ultimately lost the match but that isn’t the point. Alex de Minaur’s experience in 2018 has gotten him ready to raise his game and actually become a contender to win some of these matches against top players in 2019.
The Australian Open
It’s a long road to the finals of the Open but Barty and de Minaur are both coming off victories. Barty just won the WTA Elite Trophy and de Minaur was just victorious at the Next Gen ATP Finals. So perhaps the Australians can carry over their recent success into the New Year.
There is a lot of pressure on these two Australian players, but the possible rewards are great. Each has the chance to end the decades-long drought that has plagued Australian tennis in the country’s own tournament. Watch closely as these two players take the court this week and march forward for Australia.