Tennis: Seven Australian women progress in Wimbledon qualifying

The strong contingent of Australian women in Wimbledon qualifying got off to a good start at the grass-court grand slam.

Maddison Inglis overcame the disappointment of barely missing out on direct entry to Wimbledon to be one of seven Australian women to advance to the second round qualifier.

The 24-year-old Western Australian, who made the third round of this year’s Australian Open with a career-best performance, joined Astra Sharma, Priscilla Hon, Storm Sanders, Lizette Cabrera, Jaimee Fourlis and Zoe Hives to win.

But 27th seed Olivia Gadecki, Kaylah McPhee, Seone Mendez and Ellen Perez lost their first-round qualifying matches.

Inglis, seeded fifth in qualifying, outlasted Dutch Indy de Vroome in a tense first set before claiming a 7-6 (10-8) 6-1 win.

The world No. 129 has won just five of her 17 matches, including qualifying, since her exploits at Melbourne Park, but will face Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella for a place in the final round qualifier.

Hives’ 6-2 6-4 dismissal of Romanian 20th seed Gabriela Lee was a major step in her comeback after a blood circulation disorder called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) ruined her last two years.

Another challenge awaits against former USA World No. 73 Sachia Vickery, with the winner taking on Hon or top seed Katie Volynets for a spot in the main draw.

Hon warmed up for her tough fight with a 2-6 6-4 7-5 triumph over Valentini Grammatikopoulou, after the Greek player served for the match in the final set.

In form, Fourlis also had to rally after one set to advance 5-7 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 at the expense of Dea Herdzelas and will next face 2020 Roland-Garros semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska.

Tenth-seeded Astra Sharma beat Swiss rival Joanne Zuger 7-6 (8-6) 6-4, while Sanders won by an almost identical score, 7-6 (7-2) 6-4, over local prospect Anna Brogan.

Cabrera completed the Australian winners with a 7-5 6-3 loss to France’s Elsa Jacquemot to book a clash with No.9 seed Mai Hontama of Japan.

Sharma’s next opponent is Spain’s Irene Burillo Escorihuela, with Sanders taking on Sweden’s third seed Mirjam Bjorklund.

Australia’s remaining men, second seed Jason Kubler, No. 30 seed Max Purcell and Rinky Hijikata, will return to the courts in Roehampton on Wednesday night to try to advance to the final round.

Kubler takes on Argentinian Thiago Agustin Tirante; Purcell meets Portuguese Gastao Elias; and Hijikata locks the horns with Frenchman Alexandre Muller.

Australians off to a strong start in Wimbledon qualifying

Australia’s hopes of a double-digit presence in the Wimbledon men’s singles draw are alive, with three out of four players winning their first round qualifying matches.

Second seed Jason Kubler, No. 30 seed Max Purcell and 21-year-old Rinky Hijikata are two wins away from joining their seven compatriots at the All England Club next week.

But Andrew Harris lost 6-4 7-5 to Frenchman Antoine Hoang.

Fellow Australians Alex de Minaur, Nick Kyrgios, Jordan Thompson, James Duckworth, Thanasi Kokkinakis, John Millman and Alexei Popyrin are already in the draw.

Kubler is enjoying a career renaissance, including qualifying for her first French Open this year and advancing to the second round.

The world No. 98, who also won a Challenger title in Little Rock, Arkansas, and made another final in Orlando, fought back after dropping the first set to defeat Turkey’s Cem Ilkel 3-6 7-5 6- 2 in Roehampton.

His rush to solid leading form came too late for him to avoid qualifying, but he is preparing well for the second half of the season.

Kubler hit 10 aces past Ilkel and didn’t face a break point in the deciding set as he booked a clash with Argentina’s Thiago Agustin Tirante.

He successfully qualified for Wimbledon four years ago and advanced to the final qualifying round a year later.

Purcell and Hijikata had smoother runs against Gijs Brouwer and Geoffrey Blancaneaux, respectively, as they continued their main draw debuts at Wimbledon.

Purcell, an acclaimed grass-court artist who made it to the semi-finals at Eastbourne this time last year, earned three of four break points beating Brouwer 7-5 7-6 (9-7 ).

The world No. 156’s second qualifying round opponent is Portuguese veteran Gastao Elias.

Hijikata then meets Frenchman Alexandre Muller after beating compatriot Blancaneaux 7-5 6-3 in an impressive display.

The Australian women will begin their Wimbledon campaigns on Tuesday night after the qualifying draw as they attempt to join Ajla Tomljanovic and wildcard recipient Daria Saville.

Priscilla Hon, Zoe Hives, Storm Sanders, fifth seed Maddison Inglis, Seone Mendez, Lizette Cabrera, No. 27 seed Olivia Gadecki, 10th seed Astra Sharma, Kaylah McPhee, Ellen Perez and Jaimee Fourlis are the pretenders.

WIMBLEDON QUALIFYING MATCHES IN AUSTRALIA

Women: Priscilla Hon v Valentini Grammatikopoulou (Greece)

Zoe Hives vs. 20-Gabriela Lee (Romania)

Storm Sanders vs. WC-Anna Brogan (Great Britain)

5-Maddison Inglis vs Indy De Vroome (Netherlands)

Seone Mendez vs Natalija Stevanovic (Serbia)

Lizette Cabrera against Elsa Jacquemot (France)

27-Olivia Gadecki vs Sarah Beth Gray (Great Britain)

10-Astra Sharma against Joanne Zuger (Switzerland)

Kaylah McPhee vs. Conny Perrin (Switzerland)

Ellen Perez vs. Robin Anderson (USA)

Jaimee Fourlis against Dea Herdzelas (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Australian aggression during Wimbledon qualifying

In-form Australian Jason Kubler will be looking to qualify for back-to-back Grand Slams when he begins his campaign at Wimbledon on Monday night.

Compatriots Max Purcell, Andrew Harris and Rinky Hijikata join Kubler in the qualifying draw in Roehampton, London.

They are trying to join Alex de Minaur, Nick Kyrgios, Jordan Thompson, James Duckworth, Thanasi Kokkinakis, John Millman and Alexei Popyrin in the Wimbledon main draw.

Kubler returned to the top 100 last week, but not in time to earn a direct entry into the English Championships, leaving him as the No. 2 seed in qualifying.

He will start against Turkey’s Cem Ilkel and is set to meet 24th-seeded Sweden’s Elias Ymer in the final round qualifier, having advanced to the second round of this year’s French Open.

Purcell, the 30th seed, thrives on grass courts but will be contesting Wimbledon qualifying for only the second time after failing in 2018.

He is making a significant sacrifice to compete, given that Wimbledon will not offer any ranking points this year.

Purcell reached the semi-finals at Eastbourne last year in a career-best run but will give up the chance to defend those points to take part in Wimbledon qualifying, where Dutchman Gijs Brouwer is his first hurdle.

Harris takes on Frenchman Antoine Hoang in his opening match, while Hijikata takes on fellow Frenchman Geoffrey Blancaneaux.

Chris O’Connell opted to skip Wimbledon qualifying to focus on his top 100 bid.

There will be a larger Australian contingent in the women’s qualifier as the draw has yet to be made.

Maddison Inglis could sneak into the main draw but is currently on the qualifying list, alongside Astra Sharma, Olivia Gadecki, Lizette Cabrera, Arina Rodionova, Storm Sanders, Ellen Perez, Jaimee Fourlis and Priscilla Hon.

Zoe Hives and Kaylah McPhee also use special rankings to play after respective battles with illness and injury.

Sanders warmed up for Wimbledon by partnering Katerina Siniakova for the WTA 500 Berlin doubles title.

Ajla Tomljanovic, who reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year, and wildcard recipient Daria Saville are already in the grass-court Grand Slam main draw.

Elsewhere, Millman and Duckworth qualified for Eastbourne to join de Minaur in the main draw, while Thompson did the same at the Mallorca event in which Kyrgios also plays.

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