A 24-hour rain delay wasn’t enough to dampen spirits at Melbourne Park as Australian Open qualifying officially commenced with 15 Australians in action around the grounds.
Fans gradually flooded through the gates as the day went on, providing a colourful atmosphere in hot conditions to provide a glimpse of what to expect come Sunday.
New additions added to the event including more shade and a two-story courtside bar located on court 6 will ensure the locals and tourists enjoy a new experience at the first Grand Slam of the year.
Arina Rodionova  and Astra Sharma  were the only two Australians seeded on day one, whilst 15-year-old Emerson Jones was out to impress and prove that age is just a number.
In the end, seven Australians booked their passage to the next round of qualifying.
Priscilla Hon d. Emerson Jones 6-2 7-5
Dane Sweeny d. Matteo Gigante 7-6(3) 7-5
Talia Gibson d. Andreea Mitu 6-3 1-6 6-2
Astra Sharma d. Francisca Jorge 6-7(3) 6-3 6-3
Melisa Ercan d.Yuriko Miyazaki 6-4
Destanee Aiava d. Chloé Paquet 6-3 7-6(5)
Ivana Popovic d. Tena Lukas 6-3 6-2
Priscilla Hon and Dane Sweeny got the green and gold off to the perfect start as they both escaped victorious in straight sets.
Although the second set was tighter on the scoreboard, the former used all her experience to break down resilient teenager Emerson Jones on Show Court 3.
Perth-born hopeful Talia Gibson won her first ever match at Melbourne Park as she kept her composure to fend off Romania’s Andreea Mitu in a contest which produced some entertaining baseline rallies. Astra Sharma made the most of her seeding despite being forced to fight back from a set down as the 28-year-old dropped serve once in three sets - no doubt an added injection of confidence.
The feel-good story of day 1 belonged to wildcard entrant Melisa Ercan who defeated Great Britain’s Miyazaki on Show Court Arena. 18 years of age and ranked 510, Ercan executed in the critical moments of the second-set tiebreak to signify maturity well beyond her years.
Priscilla Hon d. Emerson Jones 6-2 7-5
Brenda Fruhvirtova d. Petra Hule 6-4 6-4
Joris De Loore d. Li Tu 7-6(11) 7-6(4)
Riccardo Bonadio d. Pavle Marinkov 7-5 7-6(2)
Leolia Jeanjean d. Arina Rodionova 6-3 6-4
Renata Zarazúa d. Jaimee Fourlis 6-4 6-3
Erika Andreeva d. Kaylah McPhee 6-1 6-2
Camilo Ugo Carabelli d. Hayden Jones 6-0 3-6 6-2
In arguably the toughest obstacle to overcome from an Australian standpoint, world number 398 Petra Hule was tasked with the ultimate challenge of conquering a 16-year-old Czech prodigy in Fruhvirtova. Down 5-1 in the second set and saving two match points in the next game, Hule had the fight but lacked the firepower to hit past the 10th seed Czech, bowing out in respectable fashion.
Emerson Jones’ journey may have ended in the first round to fellow Aussie Priscilla Hon, but at 15, she is definitely a talent to watch out for in the future.
In a match that could’ve gone either way, it was a matter of millimetres and key points that handed Li Tu a disappointing straight sets loss in two tiebreaks against Belgium’s De Loore. The 27-year-old Aussie squandered three set points in the opening set which will be reflected on with regret.
Controversially snubbed for a wildcard to gain direct entry into the main draw, Arina Rodionova was unable to replicate her stunning form from 2023, instead not being able to find answers against a more energetic Leolia Jeanjean - posing further questions in regard to how the wildcard system is distributed.
17-year-old Pavle Marinkov has good foundations to lean on, but Italy’s Riccardo Bonadio proved too strong.
Elsewhere, Jaimee Fourlis and Kaylah McPhee couldn’t get the job done over second seed Mexican Renata Zarazúa and fifth seed Russian Erika Andreeva, both losing in straight sets respectively, whilst a slow start from Hayden Jones cost him dearly against Argentina’s Ugo Carabelli.
Second round matchups:
Dane Sweeny v Luca Nardi  (Italy)
Astra Sharma  v Maria Timofeeva (Russia)
Priscilla Hon v Dalma Gálfi  (Hungary)
Destanee Aiava v Jil Teichmann (Switzerland)
Talia Gibson v Brenda Fruhirtova  (Czech Republic)
Ivana Popovic v Anna Bondár  (Hungary)
Melisa Ercan v Sijia Wei (China)