BIG STAGE: Matthew Barton of Australia in action during a 2016 Wimbledon qualifying session.
BIG STAGE: Matthew Barton of Australia in action during a 2016 Wimbledon qualifying session. Justin Setterfield

Aussie qualifier aiming to make his mark

TENNIS: Not many Australians would have heard of Sydneysider Matthew Barton.

But the world No.247 is hoping that soon a few more of his countrymen will know who he is.

Barton, 24, from Collaroy on Sydney’s northern beaches, will play his first grand slam match tonight after five unsuccessful attempts to qualify for one of the four majors.

He will play fellow qualifier Albano Olivetti, a Frenchman he knows well and believes he can beat.

“It’s a great draw. I’m really happy with that,” he told media.

“It’s going to be an amazing feeling when I step out on court.”

Barton, who possesses a big serve, will win $55,000 even if he loses in the first round – almost doubling his career earnings of $56,690.

He got through three qualifying matches but only earned the final spot for the All England Club half an hour before the draw was made after six players pulled out.

Barton had had a poor run with injuries and had even taken up coaching as he contemplated giving up the game.

But what could be a life-changing email dropped in.

“The day before I was six out of qualifying and I thought I was no chance,” Barton said.

“Everyone was telling me I was no chance.

“And then about two hours before it (an email) dropped – everyone was pulling out.

“And then half an hour before, I got an email saying I was in.

“So I was like ‘wow’. Unreal. I’m in.”

After struggling with injuries for the past couple of years, Barton now feels he is ready to show just what he has got.

“I’ve been fit throughout the whole year and that’s something haven’t been able to do for two or three years,” he said.

“Just the experience I’ve had through being in the other qualifying draws and just being around the grounds with all the players, the experience helps and I think it just clicked for me before this tournament.”

In his time out of the game, Barton struggled to get his mind right but after being inspired by the likes of John Millman, Sam Groth and Marinko Matosevic, he is hoping to take his tennis to the next level.

“They made it at like 27, 28. Just that perseverance,” he said.

“I could see myself playing these tournaments.

“I always had that mental strength in me and I found it.

“I felt like I belong here, so it’s good.”

AUSSIES IN ACTION TONIGHT

Men: L. Saville (AUS) v D. Novikov (USA)

R. Bautista Agut (ESP) [14] v J. Thompson (AUS)

F. Verdasco (ESP) v B. Tomic (AUS) [19]

A. Olivetti (FRA) v M. Barton (AUS)

N. Kyrgios (AUS) [15] v R. Stepanek (CZE)

J. Millman (AUS) v A. Montanes (ESP)

Women: D. Gavrilova (AUS) v Q. Wang (CHN)



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