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Baltacha diary

Elena Baltacha in action at Wimbledon 2009

In the first of a series of diary pieces until Wimbledon 2010, British tennis star Elena Baltacha describes the challenges she faces in the women's tennis tour.

By Elena Baltacha

Welcome to my new column for BBC Sport, I hope you'll follow my progress online over the coming year.

I was pretty tired after Wimbledon. I had a week off, which I badly needed, and I now feel really refreshed.

In a funny way it feels like Wimbledon was ages ago but now I've had time to prepare for the States, which I'm really looking forward to; it's very exciting.

All the tournaments I'll be playing in North America are going to be very difficult, because they're WTA, so I'm going to be in qualifying and I'm going to be facing a lot of tough opponents there.

My first tournament will be Stanford, then it's Los Angeles, Cincinnati and Toronto. After that I'll have a week off to practise in the States, then I'm heading to New York for the US Open.

If I'm going to move up the rankings, then I'll have to start playing the top players and beating them.

I used to have this slight mental hurdle about playing in the States - the conditions are very difficult. It's often very hot and the ball tends to fly much more and, because I play pretty flat, there was a lot of unforced errors.

Now, at 26, I'm at the stage of my career where I know that this is my life; this is business

However, that was when I was younger. Last year I did well and I made last-round qualifying at the US Open. That gave me a lot of confidence.

Going into the US Open now I feel really confident that I've improved my game. I don't have that mental block now about playing in the States.

After Wimbledon, I took a bit of a risk, hoping my ranking would be good enough to make the cut at Flushing Meadow.

I stayed at about 111th or 112th and because I didn't play straight after Wimbledon - I had a couple of weeks off - my ranking dropped to 114th, because other players were still playing that were better than me or slightly worse and they were adding points.

It was a difficult stage for me. I had played so many matches and so many tournaments in three or four months that I didn't feel that, physically, I was able to play so soon.

Usually in a Grand Slam the cut-off is 108-110, so I think I'll miss out unless there are a lot of withdrawals, which would be nice - not that I'm wishing anyone any harm of course!

I'm going out there to give it a good try, but I think I have improved enough to win some matches and pick up some points.

I'll be away from home for a while but I no longer suffer from homesickness. As a junior you miss your family and friends and being at home.

Now, at 26, I'm at the stage of my career where I know that this is my life; this is business.

I'll be able to catch up with friends and family after my career and they know they can follow me on Twitter.

I'm certainly not complaining about living out of a suitcase - I love the lifestyle, I love to travel, I love meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.

I'm based in England now, but one thing I really do miss is going up to Scotland to see my brother and my Mum. I love the countryside there and I miss hearing the Scottish accent, but it's wonderful to get the support from back home.

And I've got this column and my Twitter account to let people know what I'm up to.

Lastly, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for Andy Murray at Flushing Meadow.

When he looks back at Wimbledon, he will know he performed really well, and handled all the pressure admirably. That will have given him a great confidence boost.

He is playing great tennis, he's in great shape and if he can maintain that, he definitely can take the title this year.

Elena Baltacha was talking to BBC Scotland's Annie McGuire

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see also
Baltacha bid ends in heavy defeat
25 Jun 09 |  Tennis
I couldn't find my rhythm - Baltacha
25 Jun 09 |  Scotland
Baltacha hails 'best win of career'
24 Jun 09 |  Tennis

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