Aiava improves in Kooyong loss against QiangPosted on January 12, 2017
The 16-year-old scholarship holder at Kooyong hit the ball hard in the second set and looked much more comfortable on centre court, nearly taking the second set into a tiebreak.
“I was playing a bit better than, whatever day I played, I forgot… Tuesday,” Aiava laughed after the match.
“It doesn’t really matter about the result, I’m just using this as preparation for the Aus Open.
“Yeah I was feeling much better on the court and was a bit more confident today, but it wasn’t my day.”
Aiava admitted to feeling overwhelmed with nerves in her first match against Sorana Cirstea on the opening day of the tournament, but dealt with the occasion much better against Qiang.
“I wasn’t as nervous or tight today, and I didn’t feel as much pressure as I did the other day, yeah a bit better,” she explained.
“Yeah it (crowd support) does (help), it’s pretty cool to have people cheering me on but I try to zone them out and just focus what’s on the court.
“Having more composure and focus and more professionalism – I’ll take that into the Grand Slam.”
In a hard fought second set Aiava hit a number of clean winners from each wing, taking the game to the second highest ranked Chinese female on the world tour.
“Yeah… moments, here and there,” she laughed when asked if she had fun on court.
Her two matches at the Brisbane International, including a victory, followed by a pair of matches at Kooyong will have her better placed to deal with the bright lights awaiting her at the Australian Open.
“Oh geez I don’t know, maybe take my mind off tennis a little bit when I’m at home and just setting some goals maybe,” Aiava responded when asked what she will do until her first Grand Slam match.
“Yeah (maybe some Netflix).”
Naturally there is a lot of speculation surrounding who Aiava may play in the first round, with 22-time Grand Slam winner and idol Serena Williams the obvious dream choice for organisers.
“Nah not really, I’m just looking forward to the challenge,” she said when asked if she had a hopeful first-round opponent in mind.
Qiang was happy with her performance and that she was able to counter the big-hitting shown by Aiava in the second set to head to Melbourne Park with a win.
“Yeah it was better than yesterday and she played really well,” Qiang said.
“She’s really tough, she plays hard and fast – yes she hits the angles and is very difficult to play.
“I think so (I’m ready for next week).”