Ashleigh Barty’s protégé Olivia Gadecki seals big payday with win – ‘I’m so lucky to have her’

Olivia Gadecki in action Credit: Alamy
Olivia Gadecki in action Credit: Alamy

Wildcard Olivia Gadecki gave home fans plenty to cheer about on day one of the 2023 Australian Open as she was the first home player to reach the second round at Melbourne Park and she is now assured of earning her biggest cheque in tennis.

Playing in the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career, Gadecki produced a solid display as she beat 19-year-old qualifier and fellow debutant Polina Kudermetova 7-5, 6-1.

“I actually can’t believe it. I mean wow … I’m speechless,” the 20-year-old told home broadcaster Channel Nine after the match.

“(My) home Slam, my first ever Grand Slam main draw win.

“A girl could only dream, you know.”

She later added: “It’s such a confidence booster, making the second round of a Slam.

“It’s just an amazing achievement, but I definitely believe that I can do more, and I’m really looking forward to my next round.”

She served seven aces and 19 winners and conceded only nine points on serve.

“My serve is one of my greatest strengths, so to have that when I’m feeling a little bit nervous or anxious out there is always something I really, really like,” the world No 199 said.

Gadecki, who only made her WTA Tour debut in 2021, started the season-opening Grand Slam with career-earnings of $179,658, but she will add another $111,000 (A$158,850) to that tally for reaching the second round.

If she gets past Marta Kostyuk, who defeated 28th seed Amanda Anisimova from the United States 6-3, 6-4 on Monday, then she will earn $159,000 (A$228,000) for making it to the third round.

Gadecki, of course, is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Ashleigh Barty and one day win the Australian Open.

Three-time Grand Slam winner Barty, who retired shortly after winning the title at Melbourne Park last year, announced before the tournament that she is mentoring the 20-year-old and it has already paid off with a first-round win.

Gadecki revealed during her post-match press conference that the former world No 1 was quick to congratulate her on the victory.

“She [Barty] sent me a text after my match, which really meant a lot,” she said.

“But I’m sure everyone kind of knows she’s always been in my corner, and I’m so lucky to have her.

“Whenever I need advice or anything, I’m always able to contact her.”

The winner of the Gadecki-Kostyuk match will face either third seed Jessica Pegula or Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the third round.

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