If Stephanie Bengson was plotting how to get to the Australian Open for a second time, she probably didn’t think she would find a ready-made partner when she was closer to Mount Fuji than Melbourne Park.
But that’s exactly what transpired when the Albion Park junior crossed paths with fellow Australian Monique Adamczak while they on the circuit in Japan.
‘‘I travelled to Japan and didn’t have a doubles partner and Monique happened to be playing as well,’’ the 25-year-old Bengson said. ‘‘I recognised the familiar name and she asked me to play. We just went from strength to strength.’’
Having stared at each other from across the net as foes in several tournaments on the Australian tour, Bengson and Adamczak didn’t take long to strike up a combination in the land of the rising sun.
They won a $50,000-level tournament in Fukuoka in May and have since kept in contact, pairing together for the first round of the women’s doubles at Melbourne Park today.
‘‘We had a bit of a chat and when the opportunity arose for us to put our names down at the AO this year then we took it,’’ Bengson said.
And there also going to have to take their chances in a first-round clash with women’s former world No.1 Cara Black and Australian Anastasia Rodionova.
Zimbabwean Black already has five Grand Slam doubles titles to her name - including three Wimbledon crowns and an Australian Open victory in 2007.
That’s been the impetus for almost $7 million in career earnings alone - dwarfing any prizemoney Bengson has earned while competing on secondary tours around the world.
But the world no.184-ranked Bengson, who actually commands a higher spot than Black’s current standing of 192, said her and Adamczak would attempt to physically dominate their opponents.
‘‘They’ll be looking to take control of the net, but I believe Monique and I have solid volleys and we’ve probably got the advantage of being a slightly more physical team,’’ she said.
‘‘We’ve got the height advantage and hopefully a bit more power we can use to manipulate the ball a bit. We’ve both got our little weapons and tricks up our sleeve.’’
Bengson has been using the hard courts at Bulli to fine tune her game for the year’s first Grand Slam, a far cry from the labyrinth of Melbourne Park.
‘‘Behind the scenes it’s a bit like a maze,’’ Bengson joked. ‘‘There’s so many doors and rooms and security checks it’s a little bit daunting.
‘‘Now that I’ve got my ahead around it’s a little bit easier to enjoy the experience and feel a little bit more relaxed going about what I need to do.’’
Bengson lost in the first round of last year’s Australian Open, her maiden Grand Slam, when partnering Tyra Calderwood.