Casey Dellacqua has named Ash Barty, Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu as players to watch in January’s Australian Open.
Dellacqua gave her thoughts on the major contenders in the women’s draw as she helped launch the Australian Open in Melbourne yesterday.
The retired champion was asked about her close friend and former doubles partner Barty, who is likely to carry the No.1 seeding into the first grand slam of the year.
“If anyone can deal with it I think it’s Ash,” Dellacqua said. “I think she has the ability and the team around her to ensure that she focuses on what she needs to do.
“As a tennis player you evolve and the experiences she had at French Open, winning there, will certainly, no doubt help her. She knows what it takes to win a grand slam because she’s been there and done it before so that will definitely be in her favour.
“She loves playing in Australia, so if anything she’ll want the crowd behind her cheering her on and I think that will be a huge advantage for her if anything.
“She’s the No.1 player in Australia, she’s leading the way and she’s doing a fine job of it.”
Dellacqua said the women’s game was in great shape, with the next generation making an impact among some established superstars. The Australian Open could be Kim Clijsters’ return tournament after she announced a comeback in recent months.
“We’ve had this vast range of women come through who have really shone a light on the women’s game but then we’ve also got the champions like Serena (Williams) and then we’ve got Kim Clijsters (coming back),” Dellacqua said. “There are a lot of mums on tour now coming back so we’ve got this vast range of players.
“These young ones Osaka, Andreescu and Barty, particularly for me, are real standouts and have been this whole year so those are definitely three to look out for come January, I think.”
Dellacqua also heaped praise on the Australian Open, which is set to extend further into the city next year as the biggest grand slam footprint is launched.
“It’s the first grand slam of the year so everyone is excited to come out and pumped for the year,” Dellacqua said.
“It’s so close to the city. A lot of the other slams, they don’t have that feel where you are kind of in the midst of everything so I think there is a combination of things (that make it so great).
“The addition to the player pod last year was huge, the players loved that. It was the biggest thing that they spoke about. It’s really got everything you need. They talk about the transport being so easy so you can’t fault it really.”