Sachia Vickery crashed out of qualifying Sachia Vickery crashed out of qualifying

Vickery crashes out, veterans struggle

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Top seed Sachia Vickery was among the high-profile casualties on the first day of qualifying for the Australian Open women’s draw, as wildcard Priscilla Hon ensured there will be Aussie interest in the second round with a hard-fought victory on a scorching day at Melbourne Park.

Vickery, the world No.105, fell in three sets to Lesley Kerkhove 6-7(2) 6-4 6-3, the Dutchwoman setting up a second-round clash with Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek, who beat Japan’s Eri Hozumi 6-3 6-3.

Former Australian Open semifinalist Patty Schnyder’s return at the age of 39 was halted by No.14 seed Bernarda Pera, who won out 6-3 7-6(4). The American will next face Irina Bara after the Romanian downed Bulgaria’s Sesil Karatantcheva 7-5 3-6 7-5. The news was no better for Russian two-time semifinalist Vera Zvonareva, ousted 6-2 2-6 6-0 by compatriot Anna Kalinskaya.

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Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum was the first woman to book her place in the second round of qualifying, the No.11 seed beating Czech Tereza Martincova 6-3 6-0 in 54 minutes – edging out No.18 seed Denisa Allertova by four minutes as the Czech beat Canada’s Carol Zhao 6-3 6-0.

Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina is now the highest seed left in the women’s draw after the No.2 seed ousted Sabina Sharipova 6-3 6-4 to set up a second-round showdown with Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova, a 7-5 6-7(2) 6-2 winner over Belgium’s Maryna Zanevska.

There were mixed fortunes for Italian former doubles No.1s Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, both Grand Slam singles finalists in the past. Errani, the No.20 seed, beat China’s Jing-Jing Lu 7-6(2) 6-3 to set up a second-round showdown with Yafan Wang, but No.19 seed Vinci lost to Russian Anna Blinkova 6-3 6-2.

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Among the local hopes, Hon was the day’s big winner – the 19-year-old Queenslander fought back to beat Barbora Stefkova 4-6 7-6(4) 6-4 and set up a showdown with No.5 seed Yanina Wickmayer in the second round. But elsewhere it was a tough day for the Aussies.

Ellen Perez, fresh from her first-round win over Kristina Mladenovic in Sydney, went down in three sets to Greece’s Valentini Grammatikopoulou 6-3 4-6 6-2, while Naiktha Bains lost to Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic 6-3 7-6(4) and Tammi Patterson was edged out by Belgium’s Ysaline Bonaventure 7-6(1) 7-5. 

Isabelle Wallace and Kimberley Birrell both stretched their opponents to three sets, Wallace going down 5-7 6-3 6-3 to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Birrell beaten 7-6(4) 3-6 6-3 by China’s Xinyun Han. Sara Tomic was also beaten in her opening match, losing 7-5 6-2 to Russian Sofya Zhuk. Arina Rodionova, the sole Australian in the draw via direct acceptance, capped off a disappointing day for the local hopes after she fell to Ukrainian wildcard Marta Kostyuk 4-6 6-3 6-3.

There was injury heartbreak for Great Britain’s Katie Boulter, who was forced to retire with a leg injury that left her immobilised while trailing American Kayla Day 6-4 6-7(5) 5-2. But fellow Briton Naomi Broady battled to victory over Liechtenstein’s Kathinka Von Deichmann 7-6(4) 5-7 6-3.