Ash Barty act fuelling Aussie tennis player's Wimbledon hopes

·4-min read
Seen here, Ash Barty roars in delight after clinching her third grand slam title at the 2022 Australian Open.
Ash Barty celebrates after clinching her third grand slam title in the 2022 Australian Open final. Pic: Getty

Ash Barty's presence on the world stage of tennis may be missing, but her influence on Australia's next generation of stars is in full swing.

Eight Australian players - five women and three men - are gearing up for final round victories in qualifying that will seal their spots in this year's Wimbledon tournament.

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Barty's victory in the 2021 Wimbledon championships - followed by her drought-breaking Australian Open triumph in January - proved inspirational for the nation's current crop of tennis stars.

Now 26, Barty shocked the sporting world when she retired as the age of 25 while at the very top of women's tennis.

Barty ended a 44-year drought by becoming the first Australian women's singles champion since Chris O'Neil in 1978, to win the Australian Open title.

It was a significant moment not just for Barty, but also generations of Aussies including the next crop of emerging female stars.

Priscilla Hon is one of those players and the 24-year-old Aussie has hailed the 'Ash Barty effect' as eight of her compatriots sit on the cusp of qualifying for this year's Wimbledon grand slam.

Pictured left to right, Australian tennis players Priscilla Hon and Ash Barty in action.
Australia's Priscilla Hon (L) is taking inspiration from Ash Barty as she aims to qualify for a maiden Wimbledon grand slam. Pic: Getty

"When Ash was training, I saw her every day. Just seeing what she does helps you think anything is achievable," Barty's fellow Queenslander and former Fed Cup teammate Hon told after a notable 6-2 6-4 win over the No.1 qualifying seed, American Katie Volynets.

"She was very detailed with everything she did. That's one thing I really loved about her. Every session she was always 100 per cent there.

Of the 11 Australians who set out in the women's draw, Hon, Astra Sharma, Zoe Hives, Jaimee Fourlis and Maddison Inglis proved the survivors after both Storm Sanders and Lizette Cabrera departed in the second round.

Eight Aussies vying to qualify for Wimbledon

Those five will all be in action in Thursday's 'finals', along with Jason Kubler, Rinky Hijikata and Max Purcell, three of only four Australians who entered the men's qualifiers but who are now fancying their chances of being in Friday's draw at the All England Club.

At least one Australian is guaranteed to join Ajla Tomljanovic and Daria Saville in the women's main draw, with Hon and Hives drawn together in a winner-takes-all showdown, both dreaming of playing their maiden Wimbledon.

"We have a lot of girls in qualifying and hopefully we can change it around and turn it into the men's, where most of our players are in the main draw, and not in qualifying. Hopefully in the next year or two we will start to see this," Hon added.

"Obviously Ash led the way. It was very emotional actually seeing her win Wimbledon. I don't really get emotional but there were definitely a lot of feels."

For the 25-year-old Hives, who's ranked as low as 572 in the world, it would be a fairytale to be playing on Monday after she's battled against chronic fatigue to resurrect her career.

She booked her all-Australian date after beating American Sachia Vickery 6-0 6-3, but should start the underdog against Hon, who's taken inspiration from reigning Wimbledon champion Barty, who stunned the sport with her shock retirement in March.

Inglis, the Aussie No.3 women's player, knocked out Luxembourg veteran Mandy Minella 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-2 while Sharma, the national No.4, battled to a 6-3 4-6 6-3 triumph over Spain's Irene Burillo Escorihuela.

Kubler and Fourlis reached the Australian Open mixed doubles final together - and will now both have their eyes set on playing grand slam singles at Wimbledon in the same year.

with AAP

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