WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen | World No.14 Timea Bacsinszky began 2016 on the back foot, but the Swiss believes her best is yet to come at this year's Australian Open.
WTA Staff

MELBOURNE, Australia - Timea Bacsinszky's breakout 2015 ended in tears.

After a season that saw her start at No.48, quickly climb up thanks to two titles in Acapulco and Monterrey, and make her first major semifinal at the French Open - where she lost to eventual champion Serena Williams in three sets - Bacsinszky suddenly found herself in the running for a spot at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore. Her run to the China Open final boosted her chances of qualifying, but was unable to enter a tournament that coul have given her the necessary points to qualify.

Heartbroken and frustrated, she played the Luxembourg Open to finish her season and suffered a terrible knee injury in her opening match.

"My left knee ligament was broken," she told WTA Insider. "I couldn't even fly to Singapore [as an alternate] or Zhuhai to attend there because my knee was so swollen. It was really tough because you're stuck home You could go on holidays but you cannot travel. It was heavy to live through that."

Bacsinszky couldn't pick up a racket for seven weeks in the off-season and her movement was heavily restricted.

"It's tough because I'm a hyperactive person and I love to do so many things. So I had to deal with that. Seven weeks is a long time."

Timea Bacsinszky

As with many of the top players this year, Bacsinszky's pre-season wasn't what she wanted. She began to practice the second week of November and was only able to ramp things up two weeks before the Brisbane International. She considered not coming to Australia at all.

"I had the option to come or not to come, or to face the fact that maybe I'm not 100% and playing Brisbane knowing anything can happen. I knew that I would probably be less trained than the other players, but I decided to come. It's the opposite of what I did [in the fall, when I withdrew from Wuhan and Seoul]."

After making the final four at the French, Bacsinszky returned to Switzerland under a new spotlight. People recognized her on the street and her anonymity was gone. It was a tough adjustment that played with her head, leading to a disastrous North American summer. She thought it was just a hangover from her fantastic first six months of the season. It turned out to be anemia.

"In the US I lost four first rounds in a row and I was feeling so down and I didn't know why," Bacsinszky said. "When I came back home I was so tired and down. My doctor said we have to check your blood. We checked and my iron level was at 26 and it should be to be over 70.

Timea Bacsinszky

"I know I have lack of iron already because of my metabolism. I was playing well and I was pushing, pushing, pushing and not really thinking about it. I was watching my diet too, so I was eating more fish this summer and less red meat. I was probably tired from the first half of the season and then this. It was a huge contrast."

So with her injury and illness scares in the last half of 2015, why push and come down to Australia knowing that maybe, just maybe, she's a little undercooked for the first major of the season?

"Maybe before I was like, 'Wait wait I have to get fit,'" she explained. "This time we talked a lot and I said we'll go. We're gonna face it. I own the fact that I'm still not 100% and I'm missing a couple weeks of practice. It was already a big win for me because I accepted the fact that I might not be able to play 100%, but at least I knew I finished the match. I saw what I can still improve, and after Brisbane I did a huge week of physical practice in Sydney."

Bacsinszky came into Melbourne losing her first two matches of the season. The pain was still there in Brisbane but she expects she will still feel pain in her knee for another couple of months. But with each training session and match, she says she sees improvements. Her win the first round of the Australian Open over Katarina Siniakova was a confidence booster.

"I took my time here in Australia as an investment in my physical preparation," Bacsinszky said. "It's a long term plan."

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.