Barty on track to be a star
IPSWICH rising star Ashleigh Barty has the ability to win her debut match at Wimbledon tonight but Former Australian Davis Cup coach Darren Cahill warns not to lose perspective.
Barty, 16, the youngest player in the 128-player field, takes on No.21 seed Roberta Vinci - 13 years the teen's senior. Their match is scheduled for third on court 14 (approx. 1am Wednesday).
"Success will come to her on the big stage at some point of her career, but at the moment it's about putting those building blocks in the right place and learning from these experiences," Cahill, commentating for US network ESPN, said.
"She may very well surprise us with a win or two at Wimbledon, but the big picture is far more important for a player of Ash's ability and potential."
The Wimbledon wildcard has taken a meteoric rise up the rankings, going from 669th at the start of the year to 258 following her win at the Nottingham Challenger earlier this month.
It was her second title on grass in the second tier below tour level. Her grasscourt resume also includes last year's Wimbledon junior title.
"Her game is well suited to grass and the faster surfaces," Cahill said. "She has plenty of variation in her game and doesn't need to rely on one style of play to get the job done. On grass you need that as the surface throws up its own set of problems."
Her opponent has an 8-6 win-loss record at the All England Club but has reached the third round three times, including last year where she fell to eventual champion Petra Kvitova 6-3 6-3.
"Vinci is an experienced campaigner and won't beat herself so Ash will need to search for those little holes in her game to exploit," Cahill said. "Ash is more than capable of winning these matches which says a lot about her ability considering her age."
Cahill gave the teenager a glowing report, not only for her skills on court but for her attitude and how she holds herself on and off the court - reminiscent of the great past Aussie champions including Pat Rafter and Evonne Goolagong, to name just a couple.
"Ash is a quality person and a delightful young lady," he said. "The fact that she plays exceptional tennis for her age is secondary to the way she's been brought up and type of person she's blossomed into."
Cahill, who has coached former world No.1s Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt, is confident of a bright future for Australian tennis - perhaps the future starts now.
"There's plenty of young female talent emerging from Australia which is really promising. Ash is a part of that," he said. "Hopefully these young girls can continue to push each other to bigger things in the years to come."
It will be a big night for Australian tennis on the men's side as well as 20-seed Bernard Tomic, 19, looks to defend last year's quarterfinal run when he takes on wildcard David Goffin of Belgium on Court 2 at 8.30pm.
Fellow Davis Cup player Lleyton Hewitt will play No.5 seed Jo Wilfried Tsonga on Court 1 at 10pm. The 2002 Wimbledon champion, a wildcard recipient for this year's event, has a 0-2 record against the Frenchman Tsonga.
Perth's Matthew Ebden will play Frenchman Benoit Paire and fellow West Australian Casey Dellacqua meets No.9 seed and 2007 Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli of France.
Kvitova, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are some of the other highlights on tonight's schedule. All three will play on centre court with the women's defending champion first up at 10pm.