Brits Jodie Burrage and Lily Miyazaki fell at the last hurdle of Australian Open qualifying on Thursday, both coming tantalisingly close but ultimately losing in 3 sets to Selena Janicijevic and Coco Vandeweghe respectively.
It's just really special, to be honest, to be in the main draw. I was just coming here to play qualies and just see what happens, so this really feels amazing. I think Sara also did amazing, you know, and it's really good for the Czech youngsters. Brenda Fruhvirtova
Safely into the main draw, though, are 15-year-old Brenda Fruhvirtova, Polina Kudermetova, Diana Shnaider, Sara Bejlek and Eva Lys, featured amongst the 16 players who did qualify.
Burrage, the British No 3, went down to Frenchwoman Janicijevic, 6-3 1-6 6-2, while Miyazaki, the British No 7, pushed Vandeweghe all the way, only to lose in the 3rd-set breaker, 6-3 6-7(3) 7-6[10-1].
Vandeweghe is one of three former Top 30 players returning to the Australian Open main draw, having reached the semi-finals in 2017.
The American needed all her skills tohold off the plucky Miyazaki, but came through after the Briton fell away in the match tiebreak.
Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, the No 3 seed from Slovakia, completed her qualifying campaign without the loss of a set after beating American Elizabeth Mandlik, 6-4 6-4, and former US Open quarter-finalist Lesia Tsurenko from Ukraine came through 6-4 6-2 over France’s Leolia Jeanjean.
“I hope I don’t play first seed again,” said the 33-year old Tsurenko, grinning after her win and recalling having met both Iga Swiatek and Ash Barty after qualifying in Paris and Melbourne. “It wasn’t the best experience to play against someone who is unbeatable, basically. I got two of them.
“I think I felt all of their power. I really think that they played amazing.”
Former World No 10 Kristina Mladenovic from France was unable to join the over-30s, falling 6-3 4-6 6-2 to American Katie Volynets.
Two sister-acts will feature in the main draw after teenagers Fruhvirtova and Kudermetova successfully navigated their way through qualifying to make their Grand Slam main draw debuts.
Fruhvirtova, ranked 135 and from the Czech Republic, pulled off her second come-back from a set down in as many days, defeating Spain’s Jessica Bouzas Maneiro, 3-6 7-6(2) 6-4, in 2 hours and 53 minutes, while No 182-ranked Kudermetova, from Russian, who is 19, made more straight-forward progress, needing only 76 minutes to advance 6-4 6-2 past American Asia Muhammad.
The Czech etched her name in the history books on Thursday by becoming one of the youngest qualifiers ever to make it to the main draw of the Australian Open at the age of 15 years and 9 months.
To date, the youngest player to make it into the main draw in Melbourne is Martina Hingis, who achieved the feat in 1995 at the age of 14 years and 3 months, while Steffi Graf achieved the same feat at 14 years and 5 months in the 1983 edition of the tournament.
“It’s just really special, to be honest, to be in the main draw,” the 15-year-old said. “I was just coming here to play qualies and just see what happens, so this really feels amazing.
“I think Sara also did amazing, you know, and it’s really good for the Czech youngsters.”
Brenda now joins her older sister Linda Fruhvirtova in the main draw of the tournament who, at 17-years old is the youngest player currently inside the world’s Top 100, and she will face Melbourne local Jaimee Fourlis in her 1st-round fixture.
Both sisters have been training at the renowned Mouratoglou Academy in Southern France since 2017 and are considered amongst the Academy’s brightest prospects.
The younger of the two sisters has won 8 titles on the ITF circuit to date, winning all of them last year, and all, on clay, and made her WTA tour debut at the 2022 Abierto Zapopan.
On Thursday she mounted a resolute come-back, armed with some imperious defensive strokes to nullify Snigur’s wide range of shots.
In the end, Fruhvirtova pipped the Ukrainian by two points, 104 to 102, to stay alive in the tournament, little realising that she would go on to create history the very next day.
Three more players took the total number of teenage qualifiers to 5, with No 8 seed, an 18-year old from Russia, completed a dominant week with a 6-2 6-1 defeat of compatriot Anastasia Tikhonova in just 55 minutes.
Shnaider, who was ranked 877 this time last year and now sits at a career high of No 105, has dropped just 16 games in 3 qualifying matches.
An all-teenage final round saw the Czech Republic’s Sara Bejlek, 16, back up her upset of No 1 seed Alycia Parks in the previous round by racing past 18-year-old Erika Andreeva, also from Russia, 6-2 6-3.
Yet another Russian, Oksana Selekhmeteva, 19, also advanced in straight sets, 6-3 6-3, over Sophie Chang from the USA.
Bejlek and Selekhmeteva have both qualified for their second major main draw, having debuted last year at the US Open and Roland Garros respectively.
Elsewhere, former NCAA champion Arianne Hartono qualified for her second Australian Open in a row, overcoming 14th-seeded Laura Pigossi from Brazil, 3-6 6-2 6-4, in 2 hours and 22 minutes.
A clash of 2001-born former junior standouts saw No 17 seed Clara Burel from France advance, 3-6 6-, 6-2, past Olga Danilovic from Serbia, while Italy’s Lucrezia Stefanini advanced to her first major main draw after Sachia Vickery from the USA retired due to an ankle injury trailing 6-0, 3-0.
The 16 qualifiers were rounded out by Germany’s Eva Lys, Canadian Katherine Sebov, and Cristina Bucsa from Spain.