Australian Open 2017

For those Aussies not particularly thrilled about supporting Nick Kyrgios or Bernard Tomic, the now-22-year-old gave the crowds reason to cheer.

Unheralded before the start of January’s Australian Open, “Dasha” became a cult hero at her home grand slam when she unexpectedly won through to the round of 16 with three upset victories.

In 2017, the country will be hoping a new star emerges. She’s no household name yet, but Lizette Cabrera could well be that star.

Australian Open 2017 : The 18-year-old started the year ranked 1062nd in the world. Now, her ranking sits at 214 and it could be even higher come the end of the year’s first major. The Queenslander gained a wildcard entry for the upcoming Australian Open courtesy of some strong late season form, and as Gavrilova’s experience proves, she won’t get a better chance to make a positive first impression on tennis fans Down Under.

She’s been rewarded with a grand slam debut after winning the Tweed Heads Pro Tour event in September before going on to claim a second career title at the Brisbane Pro Tour event straight after.

“It’s amazing news and a pretty surreal feeling. To be honest I’m probably still in a bit of shock, but I’m super excited to start playing,” Cabrera said.

“I think if I’m playing my best tennis you can always match it with any girl inside the top 100, so I want to try and win as many matches as I can which will hopefully help me play in more WTA tournaments in the future.”

Is Cabrera the next big thing in Aussie tennis?

Is Cabrera the next big thing in Aussie tennis?Source:News Corp Australia

Townsville-born Cabrera found out she’d be having a hit on the blue courts at Melbourne Park last week at a camp with Australia’s top female players, including Sam Stosur.

Stosur would no doubt be hoping the teenager can make the step up immediately and lessen some of the burden she has to wear as Australia’s great female hope at every grand slam.

Tennis Australia’s head of women’s tennis Nicole Pratt said the main draw wildcard entry was just reward for an outstanding 2016.

“Lizette has had an outstanding year, beginning outside of 1000 and now currently ranked 214 in the world. She deserves the opportunity to have the ideal preparation into the Australian summer,” said Pratt.

“She finished the year with a win over a top 100 player most recently in Japan and she has really stayed disciplined all year with her dedication on and off the court.”

The invitation follows hot on the heels of a call-up to the Australian Fed Cup team, where she was able to observe up close just what’s necessary to be one of the world’s best players.

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