On the eve of her first match in the WTA event at indian Wells Australia's number one-ranked female tennis player, Ashleigh Barty, has given her veteran compatriot Sam Stosur, the ultimate compliment.
Speaking on the eve of her round of 64 match against Greece's Maria Sakkari, Barty hailed the influence of Stosur, who prevailed over local hope Lauren Davis 3-6 6-3 6-3 on Thursday.
"For me Sammy will always be number one," Barty said. "She set the standard very high for so many years and even though her ranking isn't as high as it has been, I think for me Sammy will always be number one."
The acknowledgement comes as Barty gets ready for her first singles appearance at Indian Wells, a tournament she enters as the top-ranked Australian.
"It’s exciting I’ve never played singles here before," Barty said. "I’ve payed doubles a couple of times and haven’t done overly well. So it'd be nice to do well in singles and doubles and keep my year rolling.
"We started well in Australia and it’d be nice to keep it rolling through this period, moving into fed cup and the clay court swing."
Among the seeds competing in the Paribas Open is returning United States star Serena Williams, making her first pro tournament appearance six months after giving birth.
"Serena is an absolute legend of our game," Barty said. "She’ll always be dangerous.
"It might take her a couple of tournaments to get going but I think when she starts firing on all cylinders, I think everyone will be wanting to avoid her name on the draw for sure."