Patty Schnyder

Schnyder and Zvonareva return to AO qualifying


When Kim Clijsters set Melbourne Park abuzz with a hugely-popular title run in 2011, a former stalwart of the top 10 had quietly exited in the opening round in what would be her final match at her most successful major.

Patty Schnyder was not accustomed to the same level of hype playing in the same era as her prodigious countrywoman Martina Hingis. But the former world No.7, with her crafty lefty touch and variety, reached six Grand Slam singles quarterfinals and one semifinal – at Australian Open 2005.

After calling time on her career in 2011, the Swiss returned to playing lower-level tournaments in 2015, and claimed her first WTA tour match win since her retirement last July in Gstaad.

Her toddler, Kim Ayla, was there to cheer her on.

Now, the 39-year-old will attempt to reach her 15th main draw at Melbourne Park when she contests qualifying on Thursday at Melbourne Park.

Check out the women's qualifying draw in full here

American 14th seed Bernarda Pera is her opening-round opponent. Schynder’s fourth-seeded countrywoman Viktoija Golubic could prove her toughest hurdle to winning through, should the pair meet in the third round.

Her stint away from the game has not been as extended as Schynder’s, but fellow former Australian Open semifinalist Vera Zvonareva will also begin her attempt to return to a Grand Slam main draw when she opens her qualifying tilt against Russian compatriot Anna Kalinskaya

Schedule of play for Thursday January 11

The 33-year-old, a former world No.2, returned to the tour last year after nearly two years quietly slipping away from the game. In that time, she got married, had her first child and earned yet another Master’s degree, while rehabilitating a string of injuries. A semifinalist at Melbourne Park in 2011 and 2015, the two-time Grand Slam runner-up could run into American top seed Sachia Vickery in the qualifying round.

In doubles, Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci proved a formidable combination as they clinched five Grand Slams, including AO2013 and AO2014.

Both tasted considerable success in the singles domain, too. Errani, a former world No.5 and Roland Garros 2012 runner-up, will open her qualifying bid against China’s Jing-Jing Lu in an attempt to contest her 11th Australian Open main draw. She may have to get past Thailand’s No.11 seed Luksika Kumkhum in the third round to do so.

Former world No.7 and 2016 US Open runner-up Vinci has a trickier opener when she takes on 2015 junior Wimbledon runner-up Anna Blinkova. Should she chip and charge her way past the 19-year-old Russian, Vinci could expect to run into another Russian, No.2 seed Evgeniya Rodina, in the qualifying round. A 13th straight Australian Open main draw appearance is on the line.

After celebrating her marriage to long-time partner Jerome van der Zijl last year, former world No.12 Yanina Wickmayer will continue her steady comeback from injury when she meets Swiss Jil Teichmann first up. Wickmayer could face American 15th seed Irina Falconi in the qualifying round.

Ninth seed Arina Rodionova leads the Australian charge, and faces a dangerous opener against last year’s junior Australian Open champion Marta Kostyuk, of Ukraine. Czech 13th seed Barbora Krejcikova could meet Rodionova in the qualifying round.