Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley has defended the lean local showing in the Australian Open women's draw following the huge void left by the retirement of reigning champion Ash Barty.
A year after the nation cheered Barty to a drought-breaking triumph among eight women in the singles draw, there's only five locals with all but one relying on a wildcard to compete.
Only Ajla Tomljanovic was a direct entry and the world No.35, whose preparation has been disrupted by a knee injury, missed out on seeding by two spots.
Tomljanovic was dealt a horror draw, starting with Argentine Nadia Podoroska with one of two former champions waiting in round two, giving the 29-year-old an uphill battle to repeat her quarter-final charges at Wimbledon and the US Open.
Regular campaigner Daria Saville was ruled out in September after suffering a serious knee injury, leaving Jaimee Fourlis, Olivia Gadecki, Storm Hunter and Talia Gibson as Australia's other entries with Kimberly Birrell a late addition following the withdrawal of Venus Williams, who had a wildcard.
Gadecki, who is being mentored on-site by Barty, and West Australian teen Gibson are making their Open debut.
Tiley still felt there was plenty of home-grown talent coming through.
"There's a lot of young players who aren't in the draw, they're not at that point," the tournament boss told reporters on Friday.
"But in both the women's and men's side, I think, we're in good shape as far as the future goes.
"We had a lot more players to choose from and had to make careful decisions with wildcards which we didn't have to do because there weren't a lot of players."
Tiley admitted though that he would have liked to have seen more Australian women qualify directly through their top 100 ranking or advance through qualifying.
"If you're asking me as an ex-coach, I'm never comfortable unless there's performance at the highest level, as many as we can get.
"But it's a tough journey ... it took Ash (Barty) 16 years to get to that point."
Meanwhile, Tiley announced that the top half of both the men's and women's singles draw will be played on Monday.
The match schedule is still be confirmed but that means top seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal, 2021 and 2022 finalist Daniil Medvedev and third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will play as well as Australians John Millman, Jason Kubler and Rinky Hijikata.
On the women's side, world No.1 Iga Swiatek and 2022 finalist Danielle Collins are among the first-round matches while Tomljanovic will lead the Aussie brigade, as well as Gadecki, Hunter and Gibson.