Saturday, January 16, 2016

AO.Q- The Three Days Before Day 1

Before the start of play, a quick recap of the preliminary battles to reach the main draw...

A look back at the qualifying rounds in Melbourne...

1. Naomi Osaka, JPN (18, #145)
...the teenager with the big shot was a combined 7-1 this past week with her qualifying and MD action in Hobart added to her three-win Q-run in Melbourne. She'll make her grand slam debut vs. Donna Vekic in the 1st Round, with Elina Svitolina possibly on deck.

2. Kristyna Pliskova, CZE (23, #117)
...Karolina's twin sister put up victories over Shahar Peer, Ysaline Bonaventure and Sachia Vickery. Can she outlast her sister in ANOTHER slam draw?

3. Luksika Kumkhum, THA (22, #167)
...the 22-year old notched wins over Alexa Glatch, Stefanie Voegele and Julia Glushko. She's been feast or famine in Melbourne. She upset Petra Kvitova in the 1st Round in '14, then lost in the opening round of qualifying in '15. She'll face Kvitova in the 1st Round again this time around. Hmmm.

4. Nicole Gibbs, USA (22, #105)
...the #2 Q-seed, Gibbs has rebounded well so far following a nightmare of a '15 WTA season. Wins over Jana Fett and Ivana Jorovic to reach the AO MD show that her good encouraging feelings after a late '15 run on the challenger circuit has stuck.
5. Wang Qiang, CHN (24, #101)
...the #1 Q-seed who just missed out on automatic entry into the MD held her seed to lead a group of three Chinese women who successfully made their way through qualifying.

Wang Yafan, CHN (21, #139): she'll make her slam debut after saving a MP in the Q3 vs. Kristina Kucova

Tamira Paszek, AUT (25, #126): a Week 1 semifinalist in Auckland, Paszek -- a two-time slam quarterfinalist -- has played in just one slam MD since January '13

Viktorija Golubic, SUI (23, #169): a winner of an ITF event in Week 1, the Swiss knocked off Alla Kudryavtseva and Arina Rodionova in AO qualifying
Anastasija Sevastova, LAT (25, #114): she retired in the middle of the 2013 season, then returned in January '15. This will be her first slam MD since the 2011 U.S. Open. She deserves inclusion just based on the shorts alone, right?

Zhang Shuai, CHN (26, #132): Virginie Razzano served for the match against her in the final Q-round. Of course, this is both good and bad news for Zhang. So far, she's 0-14 in slam main draw matches. Yikes.
Maryna Zanevska, UKR (22, #146): she does one better after losing in the final Q-round last year in Melbourne. Zanevska is still looking for her first career slam MD win.
Maria Sakkari, GRE (20, #170): 7-4 in ITF finals the last two seasons, Sakkari's Q3 win over Zhu Lin put her into her maiden slam main draw

DOWN: Naomi Broady/GBR
...the #3-seeded Brit opened her season with an emotional trip to the Auckland QF that included an upset of Ana Ivanovic, as well as an even-more-emotional comeback victory over teenager Jelena Ostapenko. Her post-Ostapenko results haven't been as encouraging, as she dropped to 0-2 with her opening Q-round loss to Alize Lim in three sets.

Q1: Ivana Jorovic d. (WC) Olivia Rogowska
After receiving seven straight wild cards from Tennis Australia into the AO main draw, Rogowska had to drop down to the Q-rounds -- also via WC -- this year. After her first AO qualifying attempt since 2008, the Aussie's career mark in Melbourne drops to 2-9.

Q1: Vera Dushevina d. Ipek Soylu 2-6/6-2/8-6
Q1: Maria Sakkari d. #19 Cagla Buyukakcay 4-6/6-4/7-5
...Turkey's top two players suffered crushing extended 3rd set defeats on the same afternoon, though Soylu (who battled back from 5-1 down in the 3rd) did all that she could to avoid her fate.

Q1: #9 Stefanie Voegele d. (WC) Tereza Mihalikova
Voegele puts an end to the Slovak's good Melbourne run. The teen's last AO match was a win in last year's girls final.

Q1: Amandine Hesse d. Kimiko Date-Krumm
Injured and playing with her left leg heavily wrapped, KDK's attempt to reach her first slam MD since last year's AO suffered an early demise.

Q1: Michelle Larcher de Brito d. #24 Marina Erakovic
Portugal's MLdB, ranked #222, notches a win in her first match since she retired with a wrist injury in the second round of qualifying at last year's Wimbledon. Larcher de Brito ultimately fell in the final round of qualifying.

Q1: Zhu Lin d. #11 Elena Vesnina
Zhu won the last twelve points of the match, reportedly leaving upset newlywed Vesnina -- who came into a season ranked outside the Top 100 for the first time since 2005 -- to angrily fling her tennis bag against a tree in frustration after the match.
68 unforced errors in a match will do that to a Hordette, I guess.

Q2: Virginie Razzano d. #6 Francesca Schiavone
Razzano is such a party pooper. Her three-set win over Schiavone ended the Italian's fifteen year streak of main draw appearances in slams, shutting down her run at 61 straight, just one short of Ai Sugiyama's all-time WTA mark of 62. Jelena Jankovic, who'll play in her 49th straight major in Melbourne, is now the player with the longest active women's streak.

Q3: #18 Zhang Shuai d. Virginie Razzano
Hey, at least it's not as if Razzano wasted her denial of Schiavone in her quest to make history. Oh, wait... she did. The Pastry served for the match against Zhang, but still failed to reach her first slam main draw since last year's Roland Garros. Razzano DID reach twenty-five straight slam MD from 2004-10, for what it's worth.

=For Some Tennis Siblings, the Australian Summer Ended Exceedingly Early=
Q1 - Alize Lim d. #3 Naomi Broady 6-3/2-6/6-3
Q1 - Jana Fett d. Sara Tomic 6-3/6-2

...two down.

=The Second Round of Qualifying Was Where Sisterly Dreams Lived on a Hope and a Prayer=
Q2: Kristina Kucova d. #17 Tereza Smitkova 7-5/6-0
Q2: Naomi Osaka d. #21 Alexandra Panova 6-2/7-6(4)
Q2: #7 Kristyna Pliskova d. Ysalina Bonaventure 7-5/6-1
Q2: (WC) Arina Rodionova d. #8 Duan Yingying 2-1 ret.
Q2: #16 Julia Glushko d. Amandine Hesse 6-1/3-6/6-3

=Though Disaster was Still Just Lurking Around the Corner for Some=
Q3: Wang Yafan d. Kristina Kucova 5-7/7-6(5)/6-3
Q3: Viktoriya Golubic d. (WC) Arina Rodionova 6-2/6-1
Q3: Luksika Kumkhum d. #16 Julia Glushko 6-4/6-2

...especially for Kucova, who held a MP (and Rodionova, who lost in the final of Tennis Australia's WC Playoff last month).

=While, in the end, only two siblings would survive to continue to dream about more days in the Aussie sun...=
Q3: Naomi Osaka d. Zhang Kai-lin 6-2/6-1
Q3: #7 Kristyna Pliskova d. #15 Sachia Vickery 2-6/6-2/7-5 one wants to face Osaka in the MD if they can avoid her. After all, Melbourne has been PRETTY GOOD to teenagers who hit REAL BIG the last few years.

2006 Ashley Harkleroad, USA
2007 Julia Vakulenko, UKR
2008 Julia Schruff, GER
2009 Elena Baltacha, GBR
2010 Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
2011 Vesna Manasieva, RUS
2012 Paula Ormaechea, ARG
2013 Lesia Tsurenko, UKR
2014 Belinda Bencic, SUI
2015 Renata Voracova, CZE
2016 Naomi Osaka, JPN

Kimberly Birrell/AUS - the 17-year old junior will make her slam debut one week after upsetting Danka Kovinic in Hobart (where she also put on a doubles final run w/ Jarmila Wolfe). She reached the 3rd Round in last year's girls competition in Melbourne.
Samantha Crawford/USA - the 20-year old '12 U.S. Open girls champ & Brisbane semifinalist has won back-to-back USTA WC playoff berths for last year's U.S. Open and this year's AO
Oceane Dodin/FRA - the Pastry's second straight slam WC, as well as her second straight AO WC. Last year, the now 19-year old won a match (def. Riske) and had a spirited three-setter against Karolina Pliskova in the 2nd Round.
Han Xinyun/CHN - the 25-year old, whose only other slam MD appearance came in Melbourne in 2010, won the Asia/Pacific wild card playoff final over Wang Yafan. She just won the Hobart doubles title.
Priscilla Hon/AUS - after losing in the opening round of AO qualifying the last three years, at 17 years and eight months, Hon will be the youngest player in the MD this year. She'd already been awarded a WC into the Q-rounds based on her on-court junior results last season, but then in December she won the first-ever 18-and-under playoff organized by Tennis Australia for a berth in the main draw. She defeated Maddison Inglis in that girls final, but...
Maddison Inglis/AUS - ...the 17-year old still found a way into the MD by also completing a very busy week by playing in and winning the women's WC playoff, defeating Arina Rodionova (on her wedding day, no less) in the final to assure her slam debut.
Tammi Patterson/AUS - a string of injuries have hampered the now 26-year old (she recently missed from Sept.'14 to Feb.'15, then again from April to Sept.'15), but her success once she got healthy last year (she quickly jumped 500 spots in the rankings into the Top 500) led to TA giving her a merit-based WC (she got the news while driving around with Daria Gavrilova, who'd received an AO WC last year while SHE was ranked outside the Top 200). Patterson will be making her slam debut.
Storm Sanders/AUS - Sanders has now unofficially replaced Olivia Rogowska (who DIDN'T receive her EIGHTH straight AO wild card this year), receiving her third consecutive WC berth into the MD in Melbourne. Sanders is doubling up on the WC, too, as she got one into the women's doubles, as well.

none so far

AO - Priscilla Hon, AUS (17)
AO - Kimberly Birrell, AUS (17)
AO - Maddison Inglis, AUS (17)
AO - Oceane Dodin, FRA (19)
AO - Samantha Crawford, USA (20)
AO - Naomi Osaka, JPN (18)
AO - Maria Sakkari, GRE (20)

AO - Tammi Patterson, AUS (26)
AO - Zhang Shuai, CHN (26)

=CONSECUTIVE SLAM Q - active streak=
2 - Maria Sakkari, GRE (2015 US, 2016 AO)

2 - none

2 - Samantha Crawford, USA (US/AO)
2 - Oceane Dodin, FRA (US/AO)

3 - Storm Sanders, AUS (2014-16)
2 - Oceane Dodin, FRA (2015-16)

2 - Nicole Gibbs, USA (2015 US WC, 2016 AO Q)

All for now.


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