WORLD number one Ash Barty is a chance to win her home grand slam next month, says former Australian player John Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald, who was in Warrnambool on Thursday as part of the Australian Open's regional Victoria trophy tour, said the two-time grand slam champion was "our best prospect" entering January's tournament.
"You can't look past Ash. But you never know what their form is going to be," he told The Standard.
"It's a fine line - if you play too late in the year, you tend to be so tired that you need to recover and you're not quite ready or if you finish the year too early you can get a bit rusty.
"But she is such a talent. Hopefully she'll get enough rest and have enough preparation and get matches in the first week or two (of January).
"If you can get matches in then you've got a chance to do well at the big one."
Fitzgerald rated Alex De Minaur as the country's best chance in the men's draw which may or may not feature world number one Novak Djokovic.
"If Novak is here, and we're all hopeful he'll be here and I think he probably will, then he deserves to start favourite," he said.
"But he's being pushed a bit now by (Alex) Zverev and (Daniil) Medevdev."
Fitzgerald, a seven-time doubles grand slam champion, said supporting grass roots tennis was crucial.
He said the Hot Shots program handed out 30,000 racquets to schools this year.
"It is a big thing for me - I believe in Hot Shots a lot and I know the coaches use it in the schools," he said.
"It just gets a racquet in the kids' hands."
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