Few stars enjoy flying under the radar quite like Ash Barty but that's the incredible reality that will delight the big home hope as she begins her latest quest to finally capture a maiden Australian Open crown on Monday night.
Such is the saturated coverage of the Novak Djokovic soap opera that continues to hijack the Open right up until tournament eve that Barty's first-round clash with Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko barely rated a mention in the country's major newspapers on Sunday.
But that's exactly how Barty likes it and the Wimbledon champion will likely never again enter her home grand slam as top seed but with the spotlight firmly elsewhere.
That will all change of course when Barty is thrust onto Rod Laver Arena as a hot favourite to break Australia's infamous 44-year Open title drought.
Until then, Barty was happy to enjoy a relatively low-key build-up compared to her previous two campaigns as the women's No.1 seed.
"The role hasn't changed. The comfort level is exactly the same because, for me, I'm just being me," Barty said.
"That's all I can be. That's all I can ask of myself. It's about going out there and trying to do the best I can each and every match.
"I know I say it a lot. Regardless of the number next to my name, that doesn't change the way we approach it.
"Particularly here in Australia, it's exciting. I get to play in front of incredible fans, my family, which is amazing.
"It feels like an eternity since I played here at home. It's exciting going into it. I'm very fortunate and grateful that I'm in the draw and I've got a chance just like everyone else."
Pledging to give it her "best crack" but promising nothing more, the only certainty is that Barty won't be caught off guard in her Open opener.
In a case of deja vu, Barty also faced Tsurenko in the first round two years ago when the qualifier was languishing at the same ranking of No.120 in the world.
Despite the gulf in standings, Tsurenko hushed the RLA crowd by taking the opening set before Barty fought back to secure a 5-7 6-1 6-1 victory en route to the semi-finals.
"Yeah, it's a tough one. Always a tough one against a qualifier, particularly someone who has been so successful in the past," Barty said of the one-time world No.23.
"She obviously knows how to win big matches.She just knows how to play in the big moments.
"She knows how to navigate and win matches, navigate through some tough times.
"Having played quallies over the last week with two or three matches, she's used to the conditions.
"For me, it's about still going out there and trying to play my brand of tennis. I look forward to it. We go out there and see how we go."
Australian Associated Press
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