Each year the tour will get harder for Nicole mainly due to the way she plays. Grinding out matches and never winning a match easily.
However her great work ethic will always give her a good patch of form and some decent results. If she can stay where she is in 2004 that would be fantastic.
I would expect that Nicole feels that being one of our leading women players means she should front up for one of the top line tournaments. It's a tough decision, but in the end the draws in ACT and TAS are still difficult (she's playing players ranked around her which is just as tough than playing someone ranked above) and an early loss in either Tier IV would dent her confidence more going into AO than one in Sydney.
There's more to life than just being happy.