NINE AUSSIE WINNERS ON DAY TWO OF AUS OPEN QUALIFYING

There were a whopping 17 Australians in action on day two of Australian Open qualifying at Melbourne Park, with nine prevailing to advance to the second round.


[WC] Taylah Preston (AUS) def Kurumi Nara (JPN) 7-5, 6-4

West Australian teenager Preston showed that she could be a force to be reckoned with after a commanding 7-5, 6-4 victory over former World No. 32 Kurumi Nara of Japan.


The Aussie amassed 27 winners and showed she had a cool head in the important moments, converting on 5/10 breakpoint opportunities and saving 8/11 on her own racquet.


“The match today was really good, I’m feeling pretty good,” Preston said post-match.


“A few ups and downs and dips but overall I’m pretty happy with how I’m playing.”


After defeating former World No. 5 Sara Errani at the Melbourne Summer Set and now another former top 50 player in Nara, Preston is confident in her ability to compete with the pros.


“Winning a few matches helps with the confidence,” Preston added.


“It just comes down to the confidence in my training and what I’ve been working on with my coach, so I’m confident with how I’m playing.”


Preston has a good opportunity to progress to the final round of qualification with her next opponent being World No. 209 Su Jeong Jang.


[WC] Edward Winter (AUS) def [4] Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-3, 1-6, 6-3

Not to be outdone, 17-year-old Edward Winter secured the biggest win of his burgeoning career by defeating former World No. 6 Gilles Simon.


The South Australian native impressed from the first point and dug deep at times to overcome the Frenchman 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 in two hours and 14 minutes.


Winter hit 31 winners for the match and showed his versatility by winning 22/27 points when coming to the net.


“Yeah, I’m really excited with the win, I felt like I played a pretty good match,” Winter said post-match.


“I’m really looking forward to the second round and I’m keen to see what I can do next.”


Winter was particularly impressive in the final set after being outplayed by the experienced Frenchman in the second. The Aussie showed maturity beyond his years to compose himself and reset for the deciding set.


“I felt like I really needed to reset, I felt like he played a really good second set and I just started to lose a bit of rhythm, I wasn’t winning the crucial points,” Winter said.


“I felt like for me, it was important to serve well and win those crucial points - those 30-all and deuce points and I did that really well in the third set. That break in the fourth game was really crucial to get on top in the third set.”


Winter is set to face Jesper De Jong next after the Dutchman came from behind to defeat Aussie Akira Santillan in the first round of qualifying.


[WC] Zoe Hives (AUS) def Xinyun Han (CHN) 7-5, 6-0

Another great story to come out of the day was the successful return to the court by Aussie Zoe Hives.


The Aussie was sidelined with a blood circulation disorder that kept her off the court since 2019. On the second day of qualification for the Australian Open, the 25-year-old won her first match back on tour, defeating China’s Xinyun Han 7-5, 6-0 in an hour and 25 minutes on Showcourt 3.

“I’ve been out for a long time now, I’ve been sick for a couple of years so just to be out there and playing a match again was amazing. A little bit rusty but that’s to be expected,” Hives said in her press conference.

“Today all I kept thinking of was two years ago at this stage I couldn’t even go for a five-minute walk, I couldn’t even have a conversation. Just to get back to this stage to even be able to play a match, that's all that matters to me at the moment.

“I don’t think it's really sunk in yet that I actually won a match. My first match back. It means so much, I’ve put in so much work to get back to this.”

Hives is set to face American Emina Bektas in the next round of qualification.

Seone Mendez (AUS) def Jodie Burrage (GBR) 5-7, 6-1, 6-4

Also advancing to the next round was Aussie Seone Mendez who put forth an impressive display on Court 7.


After dropping the opening set, Mendez fought back to defeat Brit Jodie Burrage 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and 54 minutes.

As impressive as Mendez was, her opponent shot herself in the foot by hitting a monumental 60 unforced errors. Comparatively, Mendez hit 28 unforced errors and hit 12 winners to run away with the victory.

Next up, Mendez will face the 13th seed in qualification, Qinwen Zheng of China.


Jamiee Fourlis (AUS) def Irene Burillo Escorihuela (ESP) 7-5, 6-2

Local girl Jamiee Fourlis strung together an impressive win in her home tournament, defeating Spaniard Irene Burillo Escorihuela 7-5, 6-2 in an hour and 30 minutes on Court 13.

The Aussie was hit 20 winners and two aces for the match while her opponent hit 33 unforced errors.

Fourlis was stoked to get the win in front of friends and family at her home slam.

“I'm feeling good to get over the line. I’ve played the Aussie open main draw a couple of times but this is the first time I’ve won my first round of qualifiers,” Fourlis said in her press conference.

“It feels great to be here and to do it in front of all my friends and family. It was a tough match today but I’m happy to get the job done.”

The Victorian is hoping for a big year after dealing with shoulder issues and form over the past few years.

“I’ve been training really hard, did a really good pre-season with my coach. This year is all about staying healthy and just playing as much as I can to try and build my ranking up. I know I can do it, I’ve been playing some good tennis, so today is a good start.” Fourlis said.

“As long as I can stay on the court and do my thing then I know I’m gonna do some great things this year.

“It's been really tough, the past 2-3 years. Having shoulder surgery and then not doing as well as I had hoped and then being injured a little bit more throughout the year.

“I’m super pumped today.”

Fourlis is due to play Italian Martina Trevisan in the next round of qualifying.


[30] Arina Rodionova (AUS) def Susan Bandecchi (SUI) 6-4, 6-2

Australia’s only seeded player in qualifying across both the women’s and men’s fields, Arina Rodionova eased her way into the second round of Australian Open qualifying on Tuesday.

“It was good to get the first one out of the way. It's warm out there so I didn’t want to spend too much time out on the court,” Rodionova told The First Serve’s Jedd Zetzer.

“It’s the first round, you just never know what’s going to happen out there. I was really happy with the win today.”

Moving into the second round, the 32-year-old is glad to be feeling fresh after a solid pre-season.

“It’s [her body] feeling really good. I felt pretty quick on the court today. I feel really good now.”

After over eight months on the road last year, Rodionova admits she lacked motivation by the end of her stint overseas but is glad that she’s reignited the flame for the 2022 season.

“I felt good today and motivated. The motivation level was not there at the end of last year after spending so many months on the road. I couldn’t see my husband for eight months straight. It was really hard mentally. But it feels really good to have it back now,” Rodionova said.

Despite being the third highest ranked Australian outside of the top 100, Rodionova missed out on a wildcard for the main draw, but wasn’t surprised by the decision, and isn’t too phased by it in her quest to make it into the main draw via qualifying.

“I was not surprised or disappointed at all. It is what it is. I don’t think Tennis Australia know to look at the rankings. I think a few years ago I was like five [ranking spots] out of the main draw, I was the highest Australian in qualifying and I didn’t get one, so I definitely was not surprised not getting it with a ranking of 150. I just have to try and make my way to the main draw without the wildcard, that would be nice,” Rodionova exclaimed.

Despite being ranked nearly 90 spots higher in the doubles rankings - at 66, singles is still the where Rodionova’s priorities lie.


“I haven’t thought that much about doubles. Singles is my priority. I’m going to build my schedule for the season going off my singles results. Doubles is a nice bonus and its a lot of fun when you have the right partner but its not my priority at this stage.”

Next up, Rodionova will take on Sweden’s Mirjam Bjorklund.

Lizette Cabrera (AUS) def Sachia Vickery (USA) 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2

World No. 172 Lizette Cabrera survived a mid-match slump to book her place in the second round of Australian Open qualifying.

“I definitely made it a bit harder than I should’ve but it feels good to win,” Cabrera told The First Serve.

“I was really nervous before the match, being at the Aus Open, my favourite time of the year. It felt really good to close it out after some tough moments.”

After suffering several minor injury woes in 2021, the Aussie is feeling fully fit and ready for the season.

“I’m feeling really good going into the season after having a few niggles last year. I’m super excited for this year, not having to quarantine when coming home is really helpful for us Aussies because last year was really brutal,” Cabrera explained.

The 24-year-old hopes to finally crack the top 100 in 2022, that being her major goal for the year.

“My goal is top 100. But qualify here first, one match at a time,” Cabrera said.

“Honestly I’m just looking forward to the next match. Hopefully, I can make the top 100 this year to get myself into the main draw of slams.”

The Aussie will continue her main draw bid when she meets Dutchwoman Richèl Hogenkamp in the second round of qualifying.


Marc Polmans (AUS) def Geoffrey Blancaneaux (FRA) 7-6(3), 6-2

24-year-old Aussie Marc Polmans returned to qualifying at the Australian Open for the first time since 2018 and booked his place in the second round with a comfortable straight-sets victory.

“I’m happy to get through my first round here. It was a bit windy out there today and quite tough conditions. I’m happy to get through the first one and now I’ll try back it up tomorrow,” Polmans told The First Serve.

Polmans has received wildcards into the last three Australian Open main draws, but after a tough 2021 campaign - being on the road for nine months straight, the Victorian missed out this time around and will need to go through qualifying to make it four straight main draws at Melbourne Park.

“I’ve been quite fortunate to get a wildcard the last three years. I’m very grateful for that. This year I’m in qualifying and that's the way it is. This year I’ve got to do my best to get through as many matches as I can. I’m just happy to be playing one of my favourite events for the year, I have nothing to complain about,” Polmans said.

“The body’s feeling quite well. I had a decent offseason and I had a bit of time off so the body is feeling ready to go. I’m looking forward to hopefully a better season this year.”

The Aussie is excited for the tour to return to some form of normality in 2022 and has his sights set on an improved season after his ranking dropped to 195 in 2021.

“I want to try be fresher throughout the season. Towards the end of last season, I was feeling mentally quite tired after nine months on the road. It was a very challenging year for me. Hopefully this year I can back up a bit better in events and try to consistently have some good results to try and bump my ranking back up. Hopefully this year will be a better one.

All us Aussie boys have spoken about it and said it's going to be so much better this year. It’ll be like normal years where we can return home after a couple of months on the road, whereas last year none of us really knew how to deal with being on the road for so long.

Last year was for sure not just my toughest year on the tour but also the other boys as well. We all experienced the same thing. It’s going to make us much tougher for the years to come, nothing can get tougher than last year for us,” Polmans explained.

Next up, Polmans will take on No. 17 seed Joao Sousa from Portugal.

Matthew Ebden (AUS) def [27] Mats Moraing (GER) 4-6, 6-2, 6-1

34-year-old Australian Matthew Ebden, competing in his 16th straight Australian Open, advanced to the second round of qualifying on Tuesday with a come from behind victory.

“I knew Mats is a very very dangerous player. He got stuck with covid on arrival two weeks ago so he hasn’t been able to hit much and train,” Ebden told The First Serve.

As the sun came down on Kia Arena, Ebden dropped just three games after the first set, blazing away to victory.

“It was tough out there. There were shadows, there was sun on the court,” Ebden explained.

“I was able to compose myself and stay there. I didn’t feel great on the court, I didn’t feel like I played well.

I didn’t feel good but at the very least I competed and stayed with it to give myself a chance. I made enough balls, enough returns, put enough pressure on him and served well enough. He fell away a bit, I think he was struggling a bit from being in quarantine,” Ebden said.

Next up, Ebden faces rising Swiss 19-year-old Dominic Stricker in the second round.


Fellow Australians Abbie Myers, Tristan Schoolkate, Andrew Harris, Destanee Aiava, Talia Gibson, Bernard Tomic, Catherine Aulia and Akira Santillan went down in their respective first-round qualifying matches.