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Heather Watson Faces Australian Open Qualifier

07/01/2014 12:45 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 15:53 GMT

Heather Watson will have to go through a trial she thought she had left behind her in Melbourne this week.

For the first time in seven grand slams the 21-year-old must try to qualify for the Australian Open after a 2013 season wrecked by glandular fever saw her drop outside the top 120 in the rankings.

heather watson

Heather Watson says she is feeling 'confident' ahead of her Australian Open qualifier

Things may yet get worse before they get better, with Watson having reached the third round in Melbourne last year, but from then on she has very few points to defend in 2014.

And the good news is the Guernsey player is feeling healthy and positive and began her season in encouraging fashion by qualifying for the main draw at the Brisbane International.

Speaking last month, Watson admitted: "If someone had asked me about playing in qualifying a year ago, I would have been like, 'No way'. It's a big challenge but people have been through it before.

''The whole experience has definitely made me a stronger person and if something like this ever happens to me again - touch wood it doesn't - then I'll know how to deal with it.

"I'm feeling confident so I'm not just going to try to win a few matches, I want to do well and really push on. If I do that then I shouldn't be too far away from where I was."

Watson has also dropped to British number three behind Johanna Konta, who will join her compatriot in qualifying.

Konta, 22, has been heading in the opposite direction and was not far off earning direct entry into the main draw at a grand slam for the first time.

That will have to wait, and Konta insisted climbing above Watson is not a big deal.

She said: "It's obviously nice to see that but I haven't paid much attention to it. Heather struggled with a lot of things so it's not like I made a big jump, she slipped down the rankings.

"Hopefully you'll see both of us heading into the top 100. I'm very much focused on what I need to get done and I'm sure she's the same."

Australian Open qualifying begins on Wednesday, with Dan Evans and James Ward the British representatives in the men's preliminary draw.