Last year, it took a second round matchup against Maria Sharapova to introduce Jamie Hampton to the world. This year, she’ll take on Vika Azarenka for an Australian Open Rod Laver Arena encore, thanks to a 6-1, 6-2, 57 minute drubbing of Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum tonight in Melbourne. Hampton won her first ever grand slam match during the same week last year and advanced to her first ever grand slam third round tonight. She seems to play her best tennis at Melbourne Park.
With the match certain to be featured on Laver (and to be shown on television everywhere, including the US, which is no small matter), Hampton will be a profound underdog against Vika. It’s a role the Alabama native is used to playing, and the experience she gained last year against Sharapova should help her nerves throughout the big match. And she does have the consolation of knowing that win or lose, Hampton’s current career high ranking of 63 can only improve next week. What a year for her, and it’s only January 17.