Day 4 Qualifying wrap
Ashley Marshall | January 17, 2020
Former Wimbledon junior finalist Ann Li will make her Grand Slam main-draw debut in Melbourne next week after rallying from a set down to shock top seed Ana Bogdan in the final round of Australian Open qualifying.
The 19-year-old Pennsylvanian edged the Romanian, 5-7, 7-6, 6-2, in a two-hour, 26-minute battle on Court 7 to book her place in the 128-player field of the first major of the year, which begins Monday.
Teenager Li (pictured above) had limited experience in Grand Slam matches coming into the season, having lost in the first round of qualifying at the US Open in 2017 and 2018 and at Wimbledon in 2019. Li won her first qualies match in New York last summer, defeating Anhelina Kalinina before falling to Nina Stojanovic.
But Li, who lost a thrilling girls’ final against fellow American Claire Liu on London’s lawns two-and-a-half years ago, showed poise in eliminating world No. ADVERTISEMENT 96 Bogdan, who narrowly missed out on direct entry to the main draw.
Having lost the opening set, Li saved two match points in the second-set tiebreak before reeling off the final three points to send the match to a decider. The American broke to love in Bogdan’s first service game, then she broke twice more in the fifth and seventh games to establish a 5-2 lead. Serving for the match for the first time, Li took advantage on her first match point to punch her ticket.
Ranked No. 142 in the world, Li, who competed in her first career WTA-level main draw in Auckland just last week, is now guaranteed to earn roughly $63,000 by qualifying for the Australian Open, almost half of her current career winnings.
With three seeded women drawn against qualifiers in the main draw, Li has a good chance of avoiding No. 14 seed Sofia Kenin, No. 17 seed Angelique Kerber and 23rd-seeded Dayana Yastremska. But there are still plenty of other notable players she could face, including home-country favorite Sam Stosur and former French Open champions Jelena Ostapenko and Garbiñe Muguruza.
Joining Li in the main draw is Shelby Rogers, who has missed much of the past two seasons with knee injuries. Rogers beat compatriot Caroline Dolehide, 6-4, 6-4, on Court 3 to advance to her first major since the 2018 Australian Open.
The South Carolina native broke at 3-3 in the first set and then in consecutive Dolehide service games in set No. 2 to craft a decisive advantage. Overall, Rogers dropped just five points on her first serve and faced one break point in 10 games.
Rogers, who reached the French Open quarterfinals in 2016, has competed at Melbourne Park on three previous occasions, reaching the second round in 2017 and losing her opening match in 2015 and 2018.
The 27-year-old is currently ranked No. 155 in the world but was once ranked as high as 48th in January 2017. With few points to defend this season, Rogers could quickly shoot back up the rankings. Should she find herself back inside the Top 100, she would likely earn direct entry into the other Slams and avoid having to compete in qualifying.
With Li and Rogers advancing, it ensures there will be at least 21 U.S. women in the main draw, the most at the Australian Open in two decades. The last time there were more American women in the field was in 1999, when Team USA had 23 players in the draw.
Day 4 of the Australian Open Qualifying Tournament saw four other Americans advance to the final round.
On the women’s side, No. 10 seed Caty McNally beat Daria Lopatetska of Ukraine, 6-2, 6-3, Danielle Lao beat No. 27 seed Kurumi Nara of Japan, 7-5, 6-7, 6-3, and Sachia Vickery outlasted No. 4 seed Katarina Zavatska of Ukraine, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
Elsewhere, No. 28 seed Allie Kiick lost to Xinyu Wang of China, 6-0, 6-1, in 44 minutes, and Varvara Lepchenko fell to 19th-seeded Czech Barbora Krejcikova, 6-4, 6-4.
Vickery will face Krejcikova Saturday morning for a spot in the main draw, while Lao will play Canadian 17-year-old and reigning French Open girls’ champion Leylah Annie Fernandez. McNally plays Romanian Elena Gabriela Ruse, who rallied to beat American Usue Arconada in her opening match, in the final qualifying round.
In the men’s draw, Chris Eubanks progressed to the final qualifying round after Viktor Troicki of Serbia was forced to retire with a left calf injury 43 minutes into their match, having won the opening set.
Eubanks will square off against Kimmer Coppejans of Belgium on Saturday with a place in the main draw up for grabs. Ranked No. 220 in the world, former Georgia Tech product Eubanks is hoping to make the fourth Slam main draw of his young career. He played in the 2017 and 2019 US Open tournaments after receiving a wild card each year, and he came through qualifying in Melbourne last year.
In other matches featuring Americans on Day 4, J.J. Wolf got off to a fast start before falling to Marco Trungelliti, 0-6, 7-6, 7-5, and Ernesto Escobedo lost to Nikola Milojevic of Serbia, 6-4, 7-6.