Kim Birrell has a bright future. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Kim Birrell has a bright future. Picture: Mark Cranitch

What Birrell’s summer success means now

KIM Birrell's flying start to 2019 has altered the course of her entire year and all but ensured she will have the chance to compete for debuts at grand slams including Wimbledon.

Having taken out seeded players Daria Kasatkina in Brisbane and Donna Vekic in Melbourne - where she reached the third round of the Australian Open - Birrell's latest celebration comes with being part of the Australian Fed Cup squad that edged the US 3-2 yesterday.

Birrell lost her singles rubber on Sunday morning in straight sets to 2017 US Open finalist Madison Keys but was delighted as Ash Barty and Priscilla Hon combined to win the decisive doubles rubber.

Australia has now progressed to a home semi-final tie against Belarus in April, where the 20-year-old could well feature again.

Either side of that, Birrell's surge up the rankings from No.285 at New Year's Eve to a career-high at No.157 means she will have access to many more upper-level tournaments than she had initially anticipated.

"Because of my results earlier this year, my ranking has completely changed so my schedule is going to be really different to what I first expected it to be, so that's super exciting," she said.

"I'm really excited for what the rest of 2019 will bring.

"I have basically locked in the rest of the year being able to play much higher level tournaments and I will definitely be in the qualifying of the next three slams, so that's been a huge goal of mine and I can't wait to gain more experience at that level."

Birrell has made two grand slam main draw appearances to date, both at the Australian Open.

The Gold Coaster is embracing the increased spotlight on her: "I'm just trying to really stay in the moment and I'm still the same old me; I haven't changed at all."