Teen Aiava says she’s ready for Aust Open

With a wildcard into next week’s Australian Open, a training spot with Australia’s squad for next month’s Fed Cup tie and the face of this week’s Kooyong Classic, the big-time beckons for teenager Destanee Aiava.

And as the first player born this century to win a WTA match when she made it through to the second round at the Brisbane International last week, the 16-year-old says she’s ready.

The Melbourne youngster says her win in Brisbane before being eliminated by dual grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, has given her belief.

“I took a lot of confidence knowing that I do belong at the professional level,” Aiava said at the launch of the Kooyong Classic.

She will play in the first women’s match in two decades at the traditional pre-Australian Open event, which kicks off on Tuesday and runs until Friday.

Up against world No.78 Romanian Sorana Cirstea, Aiava said her game at the moment isn’t about winning or losing.

She was also trying to be more professional which meant, like any teen, not getting distracted by her phone.

“I’m not focusing on winning or losing, just on playing my game every match I’m playing,” she said.

“I’m just trying to improve my game and winning’s not really important right now.”

Two-time finalist Pat Cash says she has the right attitude.

“If she wins one match I think she should be very happy and if she doesn’t than it’s great learning curve,” Cash said.

“She should enjoy the occasion and just think long-term about what she can do.

“She certainly hits the ball well and has got the power; she needs the mental toughness to be out there every week and the experience and that will naturally come.”

After the Australian Open she will play a tournament in Tasmania before training with Australia’s Fed Cup squad, who are set to face Ukraine in an away tie on February 11 and 12.

Aiava said was still getting used to the attention by the media, and fans.

“Just walking to my local court, someone wanted a picture,” she said.

“Most of the time it’s fun.”

Australia’s Andrew Whittington and Croatian Borna Coric are first up on court at Kooyong followed by Aiava and then Frenchmen Gilles Simon and Richard Gasquet.

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