Aiava’s ruthless Australian Open wildcard win
ALICIA Molik has hailed Destanee Aiava as the perfect candidate to bolster Australia's women's tennis renaissance after the teenager ruthlessly secured an Australian Open singles wildcard.
Aiava, 17, downed Tammi Patterson 6-4 6-0 to earn a main draw spot alongside Ash Barty, Daria Gavrilova, Sam Stosur and Jaimee Fourlis at the January 15-28 grand slam.
Fed Cup captain Molik believes Aiava's progress will spike even further against top-ranked players.
"I see an immediate rise (in performance) when she's pitted against higher-ranked opponents so, first things first, she needs to be around that environment more often," former world No.8 Molik said.
"We know she plays a really big game.
"Destanee wins a lot of matches and a lot of free points with her serve and I think there's a bit more to be added to that in terms of pace and variety.
"But the world is her oyster.
"She's an exciting talent and she's got the personality to match.
"Goes about her tennis pretty quietly but she's a really, really confident person beneath that.
"She's somebody all of Australia should be excited about because I am."
Molik's belief in Aiava, currently ranked No.154 in the world, is absolute.
"Des is one of our brightest talents here in Australia so I'm hoping that she does get a showcourt (at the Australian Open)," she said.
"I think she's ready to step up. If she was to draw a Serena (Williams) on Rod Laver (Arena), she would love that, she would relish that.
"And that's the type of competitor we want, someone who almost wishes to be on that stage and Des is that person."
Aiava overcome torn ankle ligaments and the disappointment of losing last week's 18-and-under title to Fourlis.
"It was pretty tough," she said, referring to her loss to Fourlis. "I spent the rest of the day just eating my feelings.
"This week I felt I played a lot better.
"These two weeks have been pretty long, but I'm glad my hard work has paid off.
"I'm feeling pretty confident. Last year, I was a bit scared maybe.
"But I'm more confident about competing on the pro tour and that I won't be as overwhelmed as I was last year."
Patterson will now have to rely on receiving a discretionary wildcard or attempt to reach the main draw through qualifying.
The right-hander lost both the singles and doubles final (alongside Aiava) but was upbeat when lauding her conqueror.
"You've had a massive three weeks," she told Aiava.
"Today, you came out and were too good so have a great Aussie Open. I'm sure you'll have a great time."