Perfect storm has Ash Barty smiling into Open
At No.15 in the world, Ashleigh Barty is Australia's highest ranked tennis player.
But the 22-year-old has her sights set higher and is looking for a strong showing at the Australian Open in January to help her push closer to the top 10.
Barty had a terrific finish to 2018, winning in Zhuhai in her last outing, which followed a semi-final loss in Wuhan.
She also made the round of 16 at the final grand slam tournament of the year, the US Open, losing to Karolina Pliskova.
Her summer started in Perth on Saturday night with a straight-sets win over Alize Cornet of France at the Hopman Cup.
Cornet said after that match that she thought Barty could go all the way to end of the upcoming Australian Open, if she is ready for it mentally.
Barty thinks the round-robin format of the mixed-teams tournament presented her with the perfect preparation for this year's first grand slam.
As well as the centre court at RAC Arena providing similar conditions to what she will meet at Melbourne Park, the home of the Open, she also has three guaranteed matches against quality opponents.
"It's a bit of a perfect storm; it really is," she said.
"And each match gets more and more difficult against high-ranked opponents.
"That's exactly what we're after."
Regardless of whether she and Matt Ebden make it to the Hopman Cup final, Barty still has matches to come against Spain's Garbine Muguruza, ranked 18 in the world, on Wednesday.
She then faces German world No.2 Angelique Kerber on Friday.
Barty was happy with her form in her win over Cornet, but said she had some unforced errors to get out of her game by the of the week.
"There is a little bit of polish coming with a couple of matches that will come, but I'm very happy tonight," she said.
"Wins are the cherry on top. It's getting back into the match swing of things.
"We've had a couple of months of no competition and it doesn't seem like a lot but when we play 10 months of the year – week in week out – it can feel like it is a lifetime.
"Happy to get matches here and go into Sydney ready to go and then into Melbourne looking to go deep."