Melbourne | Hunter, sole Aussie to qualify for AO main draw

World No 1 in doubles, Storm Hunter, made it into the main draw of the women’s singles at the Australian Open on Friday, the first reigning top-ranked doubles player to qualify for a Grand Slam in singles since 2006.

I was shaking in the last two games. She’s a quality player, she’s so aggressive and took time away from me, which was a little bit hard for me, because I usually like to be the aggressive one. I’m just so happy, I can’t believe that I’ve qualified at my home Slam. Storm Hunter

“I’ve been in a lot of big moments on the doubles court, and beaten a lot of good players, so I’m trying to use that experience in my singles, and believe in myself,” Hunter said after holding off Czech teen Dominika Salkova to secure her place in the AO 2024 main draw. “I literally have no words.

“I was shaking in the last two games. She’s a quality player, she’s so aggressive and took time away from me, which was a little bit hard for me, because I usually like to be the aggressive one.

“I’m just so happy, I can’t believe that I’ve qualified at my home Slam.”

Hunter has drawn former World No 5 Sara Errani of Italy in the 1st-round, in what will be her 6th main-draw appearance, the first having come 10 years ago as a wild-card.

“I’ve qualified at the French and Wimbledon, but to do it here in Australia, which, I think, is the hardest one for us Australians to do, it’s amazing,” she said after improving her winning streak in Grand Slam qualifying to 9 matches.

Hunter becomes only the 3rd woman to achieve the feat in Melbourne Park’s 36-year history, after Kerry-Anne Guse in 2000, and Astra Sharma in 2019.

With her Perth-based parents arriving in Melbourne on Sunday, Hunter had extra motivation to qualify, as her mother, Genene, has yet to see her play singles at the Australian Open.

“It’s going to be really special to have them here,” said Hunter, who has never been past the 1st-round at Melbourne Park, and struggled early before finding her feet to claim the 3-6 6-3 6-4 win on Friday.

2nd-seed Renata Zarazua defeated Destanee Aiava in 3 sets to advance to the main draw

© Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images

Meanwhile, other Aussie’s hopes were dashed when 2nd-seed Renata Zarazua defeated Destanee Aiava, and Maddison Inglis, Maya Joint, and Priscilla Hon, all bowed out of contention.

Zarazua outlasted Aiava, 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4, to become just the 2nd Mexican woman to reach the Australian Open main draw in the Open Era, and the first since two-time quarter-finalist Angelica Gavaldon’s final appearance here in 2000.

This week, she also became the 2nd Mexican woman after Gavaldon to be ranked inside the Top 100, having won her first WTA 125 title in Montevideo last month.

She trailed 4-1 in the 3rd against Aiava set but prevailed in 2 hours 27 minutes.

The 26-year-old’s only previous Grand Slam main draw appearance was at Roland Garros in 2020, where she reached the 2nd-round as a qualifier.

16-year-old Alina Korneeva playing her first Grand Slam qualifying competition at Melbourne Park beat Anna Bondar in straight sets

Fast-rising 16-year-olds Alina Korneeva from Russia and Czech Brenda Fruhvirtova also successfully booked their spots in the main draw.

Korneeva, the Junior No 1 and last year’s Australian Open and Roland Garros girls’ champion, needed to battle through 3-setters in her first two rounds, but delivered her cleanest performance so far to defeat 11th-seeded Anna Bondar from Russia, 6-3 6-3.

The World No 180, who was playing her first Grand Slam qualifying competition, wrapped up the win in an hour and 20 minutes, sealing her 2nd match point with an exquisite drop-shot winner.

Fellow 2007-born teenager Fruhvirtova also came through in straight sets, defeating China’s Wei Sijia, 6-2 6-4, in just 68 minutes, marking the 3rd time that the No 10 seed has successfully qualified for a major, having done so for the first time here a year ago.

Fruhvirtova’s Czech compatriot and No 22 seed Sara Bejlek, who is 17 year’s old,  dismissed Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove from the Netherlands, 6-4 6-4, to qualify for a second consecutive year, and for the 4th time at a Grand Slam overall.

Germany’s Ella Seidel, who is 18 and making her major qualifying debut, powered past 19th-seed seed Hailey Baptiste from the USA, 6-0 6-4, in 74 minutes.

Top-seeded Dayana Yastremska won her 3rd consecutive 3-setter to end the surprise run by 17-year-old Australian wild-card Maya Joint on Friday

© Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Elsewhere, Ukrainians went three-for-three in their final qualifying round, taking the total in the main draw to 7.

The squad was led by No 1 seed Dayana Yastremska, who won a 3rd consecutive 3-setter to end the surprise run by 17-year-old Australian wild-card Maya Joint, 6-2 1-6 6-4.

Yastremska was joined by No 24 seed Daria Snigur, who recovered from losing a 5-3 2nd-set lead to defeat another Australian wild-card, Maddison Inglis, 6-2 5-7 6-3.

Snigur, the 2019 Wimbledon junior champion, made waves on her only previous Grand Slam main draw appearance, upsetting Simona Halep in the 1st-round of the 2022 US Open.

The third Ukrainian winner was Yuliia Starodubtseva, who came through a marathon 2-hour, 49-minute contest to defeat Czech Gabriela Knutson, 6-4 1-6 7-6[4].

Knutson served for the match at 5-4 in the 3rd set, but the 152-ranked Starodubtseva recovered to dominate the match tiebreak, sealing victory with a running backhand pass down the line.

Two Frenchwomen also pulled off 3-set wins to reach the main draw, with No 145-ranked Leolia Jeanjean facing down a match point as Eva Lys, the No 26 seed from Germany, served for the match at 6-5 in the 2nd-set, roaring back to win 2-6 7-6(4) 6-3.

Former World No 39 Fiona Ferro’s inspiring come-back also took another step forward as she defeated Russia’s Polina Kudermetova, 6-3 3-6 6-3.

The 26-year-old accused her former coach Pierre Bouteyre of sexual assault and rape in 2022, and played just 2 matches in the second half of that season.

The Frenchwoman returned at ITF W15 level at the start of 2023, and was ranked as low as No 493 in April, but Ferro put together a 49-23 record last season, including a run to the Barranquilla WTA 125 final in August, and is now ranked back at No 154 and heading in the right direction again.

Elsewhere, Budapest champion Maria Timofeeva overcame Aussie wild-card Priscilla Hon, 6-2 4-6 6-1, to reach her first Grand Slam main draw, while Rebecca Marino advanced after fellow Canadian Katherine Sebov was forced to retire trailing 2-0 due to a wrist injury.

Marino has played in the Australian Open main draw 6 times, including the last 3 years, but has never advanced past the round of 64.

No 3 seed Katie Volynets from the USA, who notched her first Top 10 win over Veronika Kudermetova in Melbourne last year, returned to the main draw after battling for 2 hours and 45 minutes to defeat No 25 seed Julia Riera from the Argentine, 3-6 7-6(4) 7-5.

In other results, Russian Anastasia Zakharova defeated Simona Waltert from Switzerland, 7-6(1) 6-1, and Lulu Sun, also Swiss, outlasted Turkey’s Zeynap Sonmez, 6-4 3-6 6-2.

An aerial view of Rod Laver Arena and Melbourne Park

© Peter Davis/Getty Images

2024 Australian Open qualifiers and their main-draw placements

  • Fiona Ferro (FRA) vs. [WC] McCartney Kessler (USA)
  • Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) vs. Lulu Sun (SUI)
  • Dayana Yastremska (UKR) vs. [7] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE)
  • Anna Kalinskaya vs. Katie Volynets (USA)
  • Renata Zarazua (MEX) vs. Martina Trevisan (ITA)
  • Rebecca Marino (CAN) vs. [5] Jessica Pegula (USA)
  • [WC] Alizé Cornet (FRA) vs. Maria Timofeeva
  • Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) vs. Alina Korneeva
  • Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) vs. Anastasia Zakharova
  • [32] Leylah Fernandez (CAN) vs. Sara Bejlek (CZE)
  • Alycia Parks (USA) vs. Daria Snigur (UKR)
  • Caroline Dolehide (USA) vs. Leolia Jeanjean (FRA)
  • [6] Ons Jabeur (TUN) vs. Yuliia Starodubtseva (UKR)
  • Storm Hunter (AUS) vs. Sara Errani (ITA)
    Ana Bogdan (ROU) vs. Brenda Fruhvirtova (CZE)
    Ella Seidel (GER) vs. [2] Aryna Sabalenka



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