A year ago Austria's Tamira Paszek was reflecting on her best year yet as a tennis player.
In 2012 she won the WTA tournament in Eastbourne and got to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, where she lost to Victoria Azarenka over two close sets.
She got her world ranking to 27 and at last was showing she could deliver on the potential she showed as a 15-year-old.
But 12 months on, Paszek is languishing at 178 in the rankings and will have to battle through qualifying just to make it to the main draw at the Auckland WTA tournament, which begins next weekend.
It is a huge fall from grace for the 23-year-old and she'll have to battle through a strong qualifying field that includes four top 100 players just to make it to the main draw at the Classic.
Despite this, Paszek is confident about what lies ahead for her and will be glad to see the back of 2013.
"It was a horrible year," Paszek told Sunday News.
"I was troubled with a lot of injuries and I had a virus similar to mononucleosis (glandular fever), which held me back for more than six months and I had a torn hamstring right before Wimbledon.
"So it's been a year with a lot of setbacks, but I grew from it, I'm a lot stronger now and feeling good to be here.
"I had a tough comeback after my back injury in 2009 and I started at 360. So I've been there before, I know how it feels to do it and I know how much work and effort it takes to get back to where I was."
As a 14-year-old Paszek made it to the final of the junior tournament at Wimbledon, where she lost to Agnieszka Radwanska and a year later she won the WTA event in Portoroz, Slovenia.
At the age of 15 years and nine months she became the seventh youngest player to win a WTA tournament and her ranking of 259 was the third lowest.
Players are reaching the top at an older age these days, so it's not surprising that Paszek hasn't yet achieved great things. Reflecting on the success she had early in her career, she says she doesn't feel it came too early for her.
"I don't think you can choose the time of success, it just comes with the work you put in and the results you get," she said.
"It was an early time, I've been on the tour for eight years now and I'm still only 23.
"So it does feel like it was ages ago, but I'm more mature now and I'm in the right place about knowing how my game works, how my personality is and I have the rest of my career in front of me."
Paszek says she appreciated what she achieved in her mid teens, but can understand it from an adult's perspective now.
"I think you realise it in a different way," she said.
"Now that I've been through tough times and rough patches with all of the injuries and that makes you grow up and want to get that success again through the hard work."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Is it fair on the tennis pros to ask them to play in Melbourne's 40 degree heat?Related story: (See story)