Melbourne - Hometown hope Ashleigh Barty denied Australia's
rich tennis history was a burden on the current generation after winning
through to the second round at Melbourne Park on Monday.
Barty, seeded 15th at this year's Australian Open,
acknowledged the host nation was desperate for a champion to match past legends
but said it did not play on her mind.
"We've had legends throughout all of tennis history in
Australia," she said after a 6-2, 6-2 first-round win over Luksika Kumkhum
"Australians are hungry for sport. They love it.
They're addicted to it.
"I think at this time of the year it always floats
around with tennis that they're looking for an Australian player, in
particular, to go deep and have a really good run."
The 22-year-old, who put together a seven-match winning
streak before losing the final of the Sydney International last weekend, said
she had to concentrate on her own form rather than dwelling on players of the
"For me, it's more about focusing on what I can do with
my tennis and my game, then going out there on the court and trying to enjoy
it, embrace it, and play with freedom," she said.
Australia has some of the greatest tennis players ever,
including Margaret Court with a record 24 singles majors, Roy Emerson with 12
and Rod Laver with 11.
But Australia's last female Slam champion was Samantha
Stosur, who claimed the US Open in 2011, and the last major won by a male was
Lleyton Hewitt's Wimbledon victory in 2002.
No Australian woman has won at their home Slam since
Christine O'Neil in 1978 and no man since Mark Edmondson in 1976.