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Photograph: Alex Johnstone

Australian Maddison Inglis has played the match of her life to defeat 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez in straight sets at the Australian Open.

Inglis dominated from start to finish to earn a 6-4, 6-2 victory over the world No. 24 in one hour and 23 minutes. It was the Aussie’s maiden victory at a major and she did it in front of a boisterous home crowd at a packed 1573 Arena.

“I'm pretty excited with today's performance,” Inglis said in her press conference.

“I thought I played a really good match and I handled myself really well out there. Yeah, I'm super stoked at the moment.”

It’s the biggest win of Inglis’ career and her first win against a player ranked inside the WTA’s top 30.

Following the match, Inglis showed an outpour of emotions as the gravity of her first win at a major sunk in.

“Yeah, like this is my first main draw win. I had thought of that moment for a long time,” Inglis said.

“It was just pure happiness. I was so happy. I saw the ball go out and I looked at my box. It was an amazing moment.

“I'm really so happy I could have it here in Melbourne with all my friends and family there. It was incredible. Really lucky.”

It’s also the Aussie’s first win in three attempts against Fernandez, with their previous two meetings coming on the ITF Tour in 2018 and 2019.

“Yeah Leylah and I played a few times,” Inglis said.

“I knew it was going to be a battle. I know she's obviously - she was ranked 200 or 300 back then, and now she's 30 in the world I think. I knew it was going to be obviously a different Leylah out there.

“I just kind of stuck to what I have been working on, my game plan. I executed it really well today, so it was good.”

The Aussie showed nerves of steel as the match approached the finish line. In the third last game, Inglis fought off two break points and endured five deuces before holding her serve.

In the penultimate game, Inglis had two set-point opportunities that she couldn’t convert, forcing her to serve out the match.

The Aussie stayed focussed and as she had done all game, served brilliantly to keep Fernandez at bay.

“I think going into the match I wanted to stay in my own little bubble out there. I just kept repeating that to myself, Just stay in this little bubble and just try not to think about the score,” Inglis said.

“She played really well at the end. I don't feel like I did too much wrong. Yeah, just stayed really calm and it worked out, which was great.”

Next up for Inglis is American qualifier Hailey Baptiste who advanced to the second round after defeating Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia in three sets.


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