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THE JOURNEY OF OLIVIA GADECKI



Ash Barty aside and prior to that Sam Stosur in the last fifteen years, and then imports Daria Saville (high of 20), and Ajla Tomljanovic (high of 32), when we think of Australian women’s tennis players, there’s been a group of names that we often reference over the last few years that have appeared to be on a top 100 trajectory, but haven't been able to get there.


Not to say the door is totally closed on Storm Hunter (155 - high of 119), Astra Sharma (162 - who did get to a high of 84 and had ten weeks in the top 100 in 2022), Priscilla Hon (202 - high of 118), Jaimee Fourlis (212 - high of 147), Destanee Aiava (218 - high of 147), Maddison Inglis (245 - high of 112) and Lizette Cabrera (249 - high of 119) and all those cases are different and have a story behind them and injury/illness has played some part as to the why and going forward you could seperate them into the categories of maybe, unlikely or the horse has bolted depending how you see it.


Right now Kimberly Birrell who was part of that pack, has separated herself to get to 100 exactly and in the live rankings this week was at 97 playing in Nanchang, China.


17 year old West Australian Taylah Preston (already at 268 live) is an exceptional young talent developing nicely in the background.


But of a group of Australian female players currently in the 100-250 region, the youngest who is showing all the potential signs to perhaps do what the above group haven't been able to do is 21 year old Olivia Gadecki.


It has been a nice steady climb up the world rankings for Gadecki, and after impressive form recently in Europe, she reached a career-high singles ranking of 127 live just days ago. She started this year at 201 in the rankings.


She is also at a career high 101 in the doubles rankings this week (was 103 back in August) courtesy of making the ITF W100 Shrewsbury final in the UK, where she will play the final later tonight, the same week where she made the singles quarter finals. Victory would be an 11th career doubles win.


In the space of just two years, Gadecki has played 12 ITF singles finals, on paper its a 3-9 conversion for titles won, so the top 100 could already have been achieved if that ledger was the reverse but the good news is she is competing consistently the last three years on tour and giving herself a chance achieving quarter finals results and better on a regular basis.


Having first picked up a racket at the age of three, the now 21-year-old is arguably in the best form of her career.


Considered a highly talented junior, at the age of 12, Gadecki was one of just 16 players from around the world invited to take part in the Longines Future Tennis Aces competition in Paris.


In February 2021, the then-18-year-old surprised the world with a stunning victory over then-reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.


When one stops to think that Gadecki was unranked and only had a career-best ranking of 988 at the time, while Kenin was number four in the world, that victory becomes even more impressive.


Gadecki took a strong stance and opted to withdraw from the Australian summer of tennis at the beginning of 2022 because she was not vaccinated against COVID-19.


She was not afraid to stand by her convictions.


But the time away seemed to only fuel her desire for bigger and better things on the tennis court.


2023 has been a year of significant growth for Gadecki as she successfully qualified for two Grand Slams.


After being awarded a wildcard to compete at the Australian Open, Gadecki repaid the faith Tennis Australia had in her with a Grand Slam debut win, defeating Russian Polina Kudermetova, with fellow Queenslander Ash Barty as a mentor in her player box.


That victory saw her climb to a career-high ranking of number 144 in the world.


It also saw the Gold Coaster achieve her best result in the mixed doubles as she teamed up with compatriot Marc Polmans. Unfortunately they fell agonisingly short losing the semi-final in a nail-biting tie-break to Brazilians Luisa Veras Stefani and Rafael Matos.


At the US Open Gadecki crushed American Emina Bektas in an impressive straight sets 6-1, 6-1 victory in less than an hour to qualify for the main draw.


Unfortunately her debut at Flushing Meadows was short lived as she went down to young Russian star Mirra Andreeva in three sets who at 16 is already in the top 50, but to take a set and compete in a grand slam match for three sets against a potential future Number 1 was another good sign for Gadecki.


So the question beckons, can Gadecki take that jump to become a top 100 player and then consolidate and stay a top 100 player.


She has all the qualilties as a pure ball striker to keep progressing, and has time on her side at 21.


2024 will be another big year of growth with her game, physically and using past experiences to keep getting better to break into the area that every player aspires to be and that is part of the top 100 club.

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