into Round 2 of AO Qualifying
Ashley Marshall | January 8, 2019
Team USA has started the Grand Slam season off on the right foot Down Under, sending 10 players into the second round of the Australian Open qualifying tournament on Day 1 in Melbourne.
It was a particularly strong start for the American women’s seeds, with No. 16 seed Jennifer Brady, No. 18 Nicole Gibbs, No. 19 Caroline Dolehide and No. 23 Varvara Lepchenko all advancing to the second round.
Brady (pictured above) defeated Karman Thandi of India, 6-0, 7-5, while Gibbs toppled Elitsa Kostova of Bulgaria, 6-4, 6-2. Dolehide beat Rebecca Marino, 6-2, 6-2, as the Canadian continued her road back into tennis after a series of lengthy layoffs, and Lepchenko needed a third-set tiebreak to see off Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6.
Ranked 125th in the world, the 23-year-old Brady is looking to channel inspiration from two years ago, when she came through qualies at the 'Happy Slam' to reach the fourth round of a major for the first time in her career.
She’ll next face Conny Perrin of Switzerland in Round 2. Should the American win that match, the draw has already started to open up, with the other seed in her section, No. 17 Yanina Wickmayer, losing to Kaja Juvan of Slovenia earlier in the day.
Gibbs remained on track to make her fifth consecutive main-draw appearance in Melbourne, with a 78-minute victory over Kostova. Her reward is a second-round match with Argentinian Paula Ormaechea and a possible third-round showdown with No. 3 seed Viktorija Golubic for a place in the 128-player main draw.
Dolehide will now play fellow American Danielle Lao in Round 2, as she continues to push for her first main-draw appearance in Melbourne, while Lepchenko, whose run of 31-straight Grand Slam appearances came to an end at the US Open in August, will face Tereza Mrdeza of Croatia.
Elsewhere on the first day of qualifying at Melbourne Park, Lao defeated Jia-Jing Lu of China, 6-2, 6-2; Christina McHale dropped just six games to hometown favorite Jaimee Fourlis, 6-4, 6-2, on Court 8; Asia Muhammad recovered from a slow start to edge Sesil Karatantcheva, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4; and Kristie Ahn dropped just one game in each set of a straightforward win over Gabrielle Taylor of Great Britain.
On the men’s side, former Georgia Tech standout Chris Eubanks rallied from a set down to beat Frenchman Corentin Moutet, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, and Tim Smyczek upset No. 7 qualifying seed Lukas Lacko of Slovakia, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6.
In total, U.S. players went 10-4 on Day 1, with only Lauren Davis, Claire Liu, Ernesto Escobedo and alternate JC Aragone losing in Tuesday’s first-round action.
Davis fell to Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia, 6-3, 6-3; No. 27 seed and former junior world No. 1 Liu lost to Xiyu Wang of China in her Australian Open debut, 6-3, 6-2; Escobedo dropped to 10th-seeded Peter Polansky of Canada, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4; and Aragone fell to Maxime Janvier of France, 5-7, 6-0, 6-4.
Davis previously posted her best performances in Australia, reaching the third round three times in her career, more than at any other major. Ranked as high as No. 26 in the world last May, Davis memorably pushed world No. 1 Simona Halep to three sets in Melbourne last year, losing 15-13 in the deciding set in one of the matches of the tournament.
Day 2 qualifying action sees nine more Americans in action, including No. 24 seed Bjorn Fratangelo, No. 28 seed Noah Rubin and 2018 Australian Open boys’ winner Sebastian Korda.