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THREE AUSSIES REMAIN STANDING TO QUALIFY FOR THE AO MAIN DRAW



The final day of qualifying took place today at Melbourne Park as five women and two men from an Aussie outlook each aimed to complete a hat-trick of victories to march their way into the main draw.


Forced to cope in scorching temperatures, it was one last push to make sure that the remaining Australian qualifying contingent could prolong their stay for at least an extra couple of nights.


It was always going to be an uphill battle due to four of the seven locals needing to manoeuvre their way past seeded opponents, including the top two seeds in the women’s section.


The First Serve recaps the Australian performances across the board.


Winners:


Omar Jasika d. Abedallah Shelbayh 2-6 6-1 6-2

Dane Sweeny d. Zizou Bergs [22] 5-7 7-5 2-0 (walkover)

Storm Hunter d. Dominika Salkova 3-6 6-3 6-4


Two Australian men were left standing on the last stage of qualifying, and both pulled off arguably one of the best wins of their respective careers as Omar Jasika and Dane Sweeny powered through.


Although unseeded, rising Next Gen star Abedallah Shelbayh was never going to be an easy matchup given his athleticism and raw talent off the ground. Jasika put that all to one side and found a way to grind out a victory from a set down, in what is a remarkable story having played most of his career on the challenger tour.


A bleak outcome was on the cards when Zizou Bergs led by a set and a break against wildcard Dane Sweeny, before the Australian benefited greatly from his opponent struggling in the heat as the Belgian was cruelly denied a chance to finish the match and retired at 2-0 down in the decider.


Sweeny’s 16 aces is an indication that his service game needs to be in top condition if the 22-year-old wishes to make some noise come the start of the Australian Open.


Elsewhere, Storm Hunter was the sole Australian woman to escape the brutality of the qualifying rounds despite dropping her only set of the three matches she played.


The current doubles world number 1 has her efficiency on break point opportunities to thank, converting 17/28 (60.7%) over the course of the week. The left-hander could be a surprise package in the main draw considering her rather favourable route to begin her campaign against 36-year-old Sara Errani.


Losers:


Dayana Yastremska [1] d. Maya Joint 6-2 1-6 6-4

Renata Zarazúa [2] d. Destanee Aiava 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4

Maria Timofeeva d. Priscilla Hon 6-2 4-6 6-1

Daria Snigur [24] d. Maddison Inglis 6-2 5-7 6-3


17-year-old sensation Maya Joint was inches away from causing the upset of the week so far, falling agonisingly short against favourite and number one seed Dayana Yastremska. Entering the qualifying rounds in uncharted territory, it was a gallant effort from the teenager who now has a solid foundation to build on for the remaining calendar year.


The result could have easily flipped the other way for Destanee Aiava and Priscilla Hon, as both committed some nervy unforced errors in crunch moments. Toward the end of the third set, second seed Zarazúa left the court to receive medical attention.


Down a set and 5-3, former Australian Open third round representative Maddison Inglis opted to go on a tear, winning the next four games to tie the match and instigate a change in momentum.


That boost couldn’t be maintained in the end, as Daria Snigur’s array of versatility to constantly change the pace of the ball left Inglis with no answers to remain consistent.


Australian Qualifiers’ First Round Matchups:


Omar Jasika v Hubert Hurkacz [9] (Poland)

Dane Sweeny v Francisco Cerúndolo [22] (Argentina)

Storm Hunter v Sara Errani

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