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UNCHARTRED WATERS FOR DODIN AT THIS YEARS AUSTRALIAN OPEN



World number 95, Oceane Dodin is into the 4th round of a major for the first time, winning the battle of France on Court 3 on Sunday over Clara Burel 6-2 6-4.


For Oceane, who has a career high ranking of 46, this is a breakthrough result, that sees her move up to 75 in the live rankings. After spending most of season 2023 ranked in the danger zone of Grand Slam cut-offs, between 100 and 120, this is a very welcome start to the year.


Even more so, as Oceane began last season on fire, winning 3 ITF events, and making the final of a further two. In the first quarter of the year, she has roughly 330 points to defend, so the 240 points the French woman has already banked this fortnight, is going to take the pressure right off her over the coming weeks.


When asked about what this means to her, Dodin was in absolute agreeance,


“Yes, I’m really happy with this ranking. I was thinking about it, like, a little bit. I’m thinking about the cut of Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Of course I wanted to perform here. So I’m just really happy to have this ranking. I had a lot of points to defend, so I’m just happy with this, and we’ll see what I can get more after.”


With some flat hitting, and some big serving today, Dodin simply overpowered Burel, whose serve just didn’t have the pace to trouble Dodin. Oceane, who grew up on the clay courts, looks right at home on the blue hardcourts of Melbourne Park.


“Yeah, I like better like hard courts. And here it's, like, very quick so I like it for my game. It's very nice. I like grass too and not very much clay, because it's too slow for me. But for hard court and here in the Australian Open I always love the court, so yeah, I love it.”


Oceane has beaten Zhu Lin, ranked 32, Martina Trevisan, ranked 59, and now Burel, ranked 51. She is starting to show the form that lifted her inside the top 50 way back in 2017.


However, there were no real signs of a run like this after having to retire in Canberra due to a hip injury, which is still heavily strapped. When questioned what might’ve clicked for her this week, it appears that it was more a mental block, than a physical hinderance.


“Yeah, I think mentally I'm normal stressed (smiling) because my match before I was so much stressful. So now I'm just trying to keep focus on my game and have a lot of confidence. Here my serve is going well so it help me so much.”


Having never been past the second round of any Slam before this event, Oceane is breaking new ground, and with a relaxed demeanour both on and off court, it appears she will embrace the opportunity to go even deeper into the second week.


Her next opponent is China’s Qinwen Zheng, the 12 seed, and 15th best player in the world, who overcame a stubborn Yafan Wang, in 3 sets. The two have met on three previous occasions, with Zheng leading the head-to-head 2-1.

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