British tennis player Francesca Jones is packing her bags for Melbourne after a staggering 6-0-6-1 win over China’s Lu Jia-jing in last week’s qualifying game for the Australian Open.
The UK champ was born with a congenital syndrome, she has three fingers and a thumb on each hand, three toes on one foot and four toes on the other.
Jones told Sky Sports: "I wouldn't say I've ever reached a low point due to my syndrome. I stand by what I've said previously which is I try and use it as a positive and I see it as an advantage in many ways.
"I've definitely had to work a lot more on my physicality.
"Personally my challenge has been to put myself in a physical shape that prevents injuries. My feet work in a different way and that means I run differently, my balance goes through my feet and my toes in a different way.”
The 20-year-old from Bradford is reluctant to use a different tennis racket after the one she is currently using hasn’t let her down.
"For sure, I've always had a small grip and a really light racket and I am hesitant to change that because it's worked well so far. I guess in the gym I've spent a lot of time trying to gain strength to support my muscles that can maybe support the weaknesses that I may have," she said.
Jones suffered a ‘wee mental breakdown’ when she was competing to reach her first Grand Slam with a finger injury.
"Before the first few days before my match, I was speaking to my coach and I was saying that my fingers had actually split from the cold in the UK and I couldn't hold the racket too well on my forehand side,” Francesca said.
"The forehand is my best shot so I had a wee mental breakdown before the match to be honest. It was a few days before the match and my fingers were still cut and I wasn't sure how I'd be able to take advantage of my weapon.
"I think I was probably well prepared in terms of physically and mentally because I had a lot of time during pre-season and we worked really hard.
"I tried to trust the work that we did but I am quite a perfectionist so I do worry about the days that I didn't hit the forehand exactly the way that I should have done or I wasn't serving well."
Jones still trains at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton despite living in Barcelona.
The Australian Open starts on January 31.
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