Australian Open 2022: West Australian rising tennis star Maddison Inglis eyeing big run after career-best scalp
Maddison Inglis remembers feeling overawed when she first played at the Australian Open only days after turning 18.
Six years later, Inglis returned to the Melbourne Park grand slam for a third time on Tuesday as a far-more-worldly 24-year-old.
It’s no coincidence, then – but still no less satisfying – that she scored the greatest win of her fledgling career, upsetting reigning US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, herself still a teenager.
“I’ve changed even just in the last year,” Inglis told News Corp.
“I feel so much calmer out there and I know that comes with experience and age, and maybe I’m getting to the stage where I will be able to perform how I want to on these big stages.
“I felt like I belonged out there.
“I went through a couple of things that I needed to kind of grow through, which I’m not saying that I’m over now or I’m perfect, but I’m still working through them.”
Those personal matters were why Inglis delayed going overseas last year after the Australian Open.
Once the world No.133 did, in May, she still wasn’t in the type of mindset to embark on a seven-month overseas trip.
There were health problems and a few other “overwhelming” off-court issues that led to her “not being physically capable of doing what the sport requires”.
Reflecting on that period and where Inglis is now is part of why she is cherishing her maiden grand slam triumph.
“I’m feeling good and I’m feeling fresh, which is awesome,” she said.
“I had a lot of days in the last year where I just felt sluggish and tired and I’m so grateful to be feeling energetic and up and about.”
Inglis has graduated from her 10-year-plus involvement with Tennis Australia and will be on the lookout for a coach after the Australian Open.
Fellow player and close friend Kaylah McPhee is helping her this summer while she recovers from two major shoulder surgeries.
Going as far as possible this fortnight will help that cause, with the $154,000-guaranteed paycheck already almost a third of the way to matching the Aussie wildcard’s career prizemoney before this week.
Inglis acknowledges she has a major opportunity against 165th-ranked American qualifier Hailey Baptiste to reach the last 32 at the Australian Open.
It’s not your typical second-round clash at a grand slam.
There’s significant prestige and money – $221,000 – up for grabs and it would do wonders for Inglis’ ranking as she strives to break into the top 100.
“I know Hailey is a really good player and she’s obviously playing very well and very talented, from what I’ve seen on a bit of footage,” she said.
“It’s going to be a tough match and it’s exciting for both of us, so I’m really pumped and hopefully I can take some of yesterday into tomorrow.”
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