TOP OF HIS GAME: Ipswich's Archie Graham (right) is a two-time winner of Australian Tennis' Most Outstanding Athlete with a disability award.
TOP OF HIS GAME: Ipswich's Archie Graham (right) is a two-time winner of Australian Tennis' Most Outstanding Athlete with a disability award. Fiona Hamilton

World number one not resting on laurels

ENTERING a new year as world number one and reigning Australian and world champion, you might forgive Ipswich tennis star Archie Graham for taking a step back to smell the roses.

Instead, the 25-year-old has been hitting the gym and court in earnest this summer to ensure he not only retains the form which led to a fourth-successive world singles title, but improves on it.

It is that kind of work ethic which catapulted Graham into the world number one ranking, and the only means with which he will keep the coveted top spot in 2019.

"I've been doing everything involved in being a tennis professional; going to the gym, working out, and getting the best body I can for the next season," Graham said.

"Getting stronger, faster and fitter."

Graham has Aspergers Syndrome, and competes under the International Federation for Intellectual Disability Sport (INAS).

The five-time Australian ID Tennis Championships singles winner hopes to add a sixth title to his trophy cabinet this month, when he leaves for Melbourne on January 20.

South Australian Sam Von Einem - who Graham defeated in the 2018 final - looms as his biggest hurdle. But Graham is confident his game is good enough to again get the best of his rival.

"I'm very confident. I've been training well, I think I have a good chance of winning again," he said.

"Sam has improved he tells me. I've seen it as well. I've improved a lot over the last 12 months too."

Graham feels he is "definitely" a better player than he was this time 12 months ago, due in large part to his competing on the mainstream tennis circuit.

Asked where to from here after multiple national and world singles titles and his relative dominance at world number one, Graham said his big goal for 2019 was to improve his ranking on the Open tour.

"I want to get higher on the mainstream rankings and tournaments; challenge the top Australian players in the mainstream circuit, and give myself a bit more of a challenge," Graham said.

"Playing in those tournaments has helped me improve my game, it makes me want to improve. It gives me a mental toughness, because there's more competition and it forces me to be better."

Graham moved down 200 places in the Australian rankings last season. He hopes to crack the top 100 by year's end.

"Reach the top 100 and play in a few Futures tournaments and on the pro tour around Australia. That's my main goal for this year," he said.

The Ipswich District Junior Tennis Association member leaves for Melbourne on January 20.