Ten Aussies have progressed to the second round of the Australian Open Qualifiers in Doha and Dubai.
It was the young players who stole the show on the second day of the competition, with 18-year-old Olivia Gadeki and 19-year-olds Dane Sweeny, Rinky Hijikata, and Tristan Schoolkate, all bagging big wins to move into the second round.
Gadecki soars high in 2021 opener
Olivia Gadecki got her 2021 season off to a flying start, returning from a set down to defeat world No.246 Lara Salden 2-6 7-5 6-3.
The young Aussie turned the match on its head in the second set, breaking her Salden twice and built up momentum to take the final set and the match away from her opponent.
2019 Strasbourg Open winner, Ellen Perez will follow Gadecki into the next round after she beat American Caroline Dolehide 3-6 7-5 5-7.
The aggressive baseliner will play against American, Varvara Lepchenko who was knocked out by Barbora Krejcikova in the second round of last year’s qualifiers.
She’ll be a tough match-up for Perez, who’ll need to be clinical to despatch her opponent to secure a spot in the final round.Embed from Getty Images
Battle of the Australians
Over in Qatar, wildcard Tristan Schoolkate will face off against former world No.17 Bernard Tomic in the second round of the competition.
Schoolkate obliterated Argentinean Guido Andreozzi 7-6(1) 6-4, smashing seven points in a row past the Argentine in a first-set tiebreaker. Andreozzi came back in the second set, but Schoolkate kept his foot on the gas to comfortably close out the match.
Over on the next court, Tomic had to dig deep in the hot Qatar sun to beat Jozef Kovalik 4-6 6-3 4-6 in a match that lasted over 2 hours.
After playing only nine games on tour last season, Tomic’s plummeted to No.228 in. He’ll be hoping to secure a spot in the Australian Open main draw to bump that number back up in 2021.
“I’d love to qualify for the Australian Open. I’ve played so well there in the past ten years,” Tomic said.
“A few times I’ve made the third round, three times the fourth round. So it’s been an unbelievable tournament for me.”
But Tomic won’t have an easy match against Schoolkate.
The young Aussie is capable of causing an upset, although Tomic’s will use his experience, having made the main draw of the Australian Open in 10-times in his career, to give him the upper hand to progress to the finals.
Queenslander John-Patrick Smith will also progress to the next round of the tournament along with Andrew Harris, who won comfortably against Belgian Ruben Bemelmans.
31-year-old smith saw off 25th seed Paolo Lorenzi in a tough bout that saw Smith show his resilience to save 10 out of 11 breakpoints in the match.
Harris followed Smith’s lead showing his grit to save three breakpoints in the second set. Gathering momentum, Harris pulled away from his opponent and comfortably closed out the match.
27-year-old Jason Kubler also got his season off to a flying start beating fellow Australian Matthew Ebden to secure a spot in the second round.
COVID controversy buys Dane Sweeny a spot in the finals
19-year-old Dane Sweeny and Marius Copil put on a mammoth of a bout, slugging it out on court for a whopping 2 hours and 41 minutes.
Sweeny bagged the win, saving a set point in the opening stages of the game to force a tiebreaker that saw the young Aussie smash five consecutive points past his opponent to take the advantage.
Copil took a set off the young Australian to draw level at 1-1, but Sweeny came back to dominate the final set and win 7-6(3) 2-6 6-3.Embed from Getty Images
Sweeny will advance straight into the finals, in rather controversial circumstances after his round 2 opponent, Denis Kudla, was told he had tested positive for coronavirus during the second set of his match with Elliot Benchetrit.
Elliot Benchetrit claimed on Instagram that the news Kudla had tested positive for COVID-19 broke at 5-3 in the second set of the match. He was also advised that had he won the resulting game to go 5-4 he would have progressed through to the next round.
But the news is great for 19-year-old Sweeny, who’ll have a shot to qualify for the main draw at the Australian Open for the first time in his career.
This is weird— Bastien Fachan (@BastienFachan) January 11, 2021
Elliot Benchetrit, who lost to Denis Kudla 6-4 6-3 in the AO qualifying R1, says that news that Kudla tested positive to COVID broke out at 5-3 in the second set…
…and Benchetrit was told later that if he had won the game for 5-4, he would have been through? pic.twitter.com/Dw4vRlPdTt
Max Purcell was the final Australian to make his way into the second round, defeating Hugo Gaston early this morning 7-6(3) 6-4 3-6 to make up a strong field of Aussies heading into the final two matches of the competition.
2014 US Open (Tennis) Tournament – Bernard Tomic by Steven Pisano // https://www.flickr.com/photos/45776673@N04/15138465191//Licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/