ASHLEIGH Barty's 2012 was a huge success and 2013 has got off to the perfect start.
While Barty and her Australia teammate Bernard Tomic remain "alive" in the Hopman Cup in Perth, Barty has been boosted by her wildcard entry into the main draw at the Australian Open, starting on January 14.
"I can't think of a better way than to start 2013 than receiving a WC into the Australian Open," the Springfield based 16-year-old tweeted yesterday on getting the news. "Thanks Tennis Australia! Bring it on!"
Barty saw her chances of contesting the Open dive when she was knocked out of the wildcard qualifying tournament at Melbourne Park.
Last year she won the tournament to earn her spot in the main draw of the Australian Open.
She went into this year's tournament as favourite, but was knocked out by West Australian Bojana Bobusic in the quarter- finals over three sets.
Bobusic went on to beat Monique Adamczak and secure a place in the Australian Open.
But Barty's wildcard was reward for her impressive 2012, in which her world ranking rose from 669 to 175, thanks to claiming four ITF singles titles, including a win at the tournament at Nottingham.
In November she reached the quarter-finals of the ITF event in Toyota, Japan.
She is one of just two 16-year-olds in the world's top 200.
Barty was named female junior athlete of the year last month at the Australian Tennis Awards and made her Hopman Cup debut for Australia against Germany's Andrea Petkovic in Perth on Saturday. Barty won when Petkovic retired in a flood of tears after injuring her right knee, having lost the first set 6-4.
It was the same knee she had operated on in 2008 and injured again last year, with Barty tweeting her sympathy for her opponent after the match.
"Really feel for Andrea," Barty posted.
"She has really struggled with injuries throughout her career but she is a great player and an even better person."
Barty is teamed up with Bernard Tomic, who beat Germany's Tommy Haas on Saturday, with the duo to take on Serbian powerhouses Anna Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic today. Following the Hopman Cup, Barty will contest the Moorilla Hobart International for a second time.
"I'm looking forward to returning to Hobart next week," The 2011 Wimbledon junior champion said.
"Last year I made my WTA main draw debut at the event so I'm excited to get back to the Domain Tennis Centre and do my best.
"This year has been a big year for me. I've come a long way and feel like my game has improved a lot.
"It will be challenging, with some of the world's top players competing, but I'm up for it."
Tournament director Mark Handley said he was pleased to invite another Australian tennis star to Hobart.
"It's fantastic to have Ash in the main draw here. We are really excited to see her," said Handley.
"Ash has worked hard this year and is making a solid transition onto the professional circuit. She is just one of two 16-year-olds with a world ranking under 200 and continues to improve.
"We hope she can use the tournament to get her 2013 season off to a great start."
Barty will be the second Australian to compete in Hobart's main draw after 2011 champion Jarmila Gajdosova was awarded a wildcard.
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