World No.1 Ashleigh Barty crossed off a big bucket list item last year when she captured her second major title at Wimbledon. Now comes the task of ending Australia's 44-year wait for a women's singles champion at Melbourne Park.
Playing as the No.1 seed at the Australian Open for the third straight year, Barty is bidding to become the first Australian to hoist the Daphne Akhurst Trophy since Chris O'Neil in 1978. Her preparation has been perfect. Playing her first tournament since the US Open last fall, Barty dropped just one set en route to the Adelaide International last week.
"I just have to hope that everyone understands that I'm giving it my best crack," Barty told reporters on Media Day at the Australian Open. "It doesn't always work out exactly how you want to. But you go about it the right way, you do the right things and try and give yourself the best chance, that's all you can do.
"I can't do any more than I can try. That's all I can do. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."
Barty kept the discussion abstract when asked about her tennis "bucket list," but winning the Australian Open would be a dream come true.
"I think there's probably a difference of the bucket list dreams and the bucket list goals," she said. "I think they're two different lists. For me, it was no secret that Wimbledon was the very top of that dreams list.
"I have plenty more goals that I set with my team, both the short and the long term. Some more obscure than others, maybe not so result-dependent. I felt like over the last three, four, five years, Tyz and I have done an incredible job with our wider team of trying to find ways to tick off those goals, to keep enjoying our journey along the way.
"We've enjoyed the ride. There are still a few more that remain with a little box that's empty next to it."
A semifinalist at Melbourne Park in 2020, Barty will open her tournament against Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko in the first round Monday. While the grounded Aussie isn't looking past her opening round, all eyes are on a potential Round of 16 clash with defending champion Naomi Osaka. The two former No.1s have not played since the 2019 Beijing final, which only adds to the excitement surrounding the potential showdown.
"She's proven time and time again that she is able to perform on the biggest stage," Barty said of Osaka. "She plays her way. She's dominant. She's been dominant on hard court slams the last few years. It certainly is nice to see her back smiling and enjoying her tennis again."