Ashleigh Barty made a name for herself on the WTA tour with some terrific performances throughout 2018 and, as a result, she has managed to break into the top twenty.
The Ipswich-born 22-year-old has begun 2019 in equally impressive fashion and has been tipped for future success by many pundits.
After a hugely positive twelve months at the top level, she will be hoping to secure further titles in 2019 and the majority of tennis aficionados will agree that a Grand Slam triumph doesn't look beyond her capabilities.
— FindallNews (@FindallNews) January 11, 2019
Australia has produced just three Grand Slam winners in the last thirty years, with Sam Stosur single-handedly flying the flag for the women's game, but Barty will be hoping to add her name to that exclusive list sooner rather than later.
Nicole Pratt, Australia's Head of Women's Professional Tennis described Barty as a "genuine prospect" and told reporters that "anything is possible..." for the hugely-talented right-hander.
Barty was successful at Wimbledon in a Junior Grand Slam back in 2011 and would love to wrap up a second title at SW19. She is currently priced at 41.00 in the latest tennis odds to triumph in west London this year and that price is likely to shorten significantly if she is able to progress to the latter stages of the French Open at the end of May.
She won ten of her thirteen matches on the grass courts in 2018 and reached the third round of the tournament before bumping into fellow hot prospect Darya Kasatkina. Her second career title was achieved in the UK when she managed to beat home-favourite Johanna Konta at Nottingham last year and she clearly enjoys playing on the grass.
Whilst many players have obvious weaknesses to their game, Barty's consistency has been a huge part of her success and with a record of 24-10 on the hard courts in 2018, a tilt at the US Open title is also a possibility. Last season, she reached the fourth round of the final Grand Slam of the season before succumbing to defeat against Karolina Pliskova.
She started 2019 with a string of notable performances including a Hopman Cup victory over the highly-ranked Garbine Muguruza and an impressive run to the final in Sydney at the beginning of January.
Ashleigh Barty is through to the #AusOpen second round with a straight-sets win over Luksika Kumkhum, continuing her outstanding recent form: https://t.co/8SciwgjiJZ (Pic: AAP) pic.twitter.com/7GbfYzKHsf
— ABC Grandstand (@abcgrandstand) January 14, 2019
Barty still has youth on her side and her tendency to win in straight sets during the early rounds of Grand Slam events bodes well for future tournaments. Her first-round Australian Open victory against Luksika Kumkhum lasted just 58 minutes, whilst she took just nine minutes longer to dispatch of Yafan Wang in the second. She also hit twenty winners in that match and that's an aspect of her game that has been a perceived weakness.
It's something that her coach has been keen to add to her game and it seems like the hard work is finally paying off. Her service game has also played a significant role in her success and her back-hand slice has also proved troublesome for many opponents in the past.
She'll be looking to take small steps this season and cracking the top ten is likely to be her ultimate goal but Barty has all the hallmarks of a future Grand Slam champion and it wouldn't be a surprise to see her enjoying success in one of the big four this year.