Women’s qualifying wrap: Dart sprints to last step

  • Matt Trollope

Harriet Dart secured her place in the final round of Australian Open qualifying on Thursday evening with a tidy performance against 15th seed Nicole Gibbs. 

Dart saw off the former world No.68 6-2 6-3 on Court 3 under lights to reach the final round of qualifying at Melbourne Park for the second straight year. 

Just as she did so successfully in 2019, she will look to advance to the main draw when she takes on Italy’s Giulia Gatto-Monticone. 

MORE: Full qualifying results

Dart’s progression came well into the evening; she and Gibbs were playing the seventh match of the day on Court 3. 

After weather impacted Wednesday’s schedule, Thursday’s conditions co-operated, allowing organisers to clear the back-log of matches. 

Another player to advance on Thursday evening was Destanee Aiava, who let slip a 6-1 5-3 lead before refocusing to post a 6-1 6-7(3) 6-4 win over Russian 16th seed Varvara Flink.

MORE: Full women’s qualifying draw

Aiava, the second Aussie female winner of the day after Storm Sanders breezed into the second round for the loss of just two games, will play Antonia Lottner of Germany for a place in the main draw. 

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Destanee Aiava survived a stumble to advance on Thursday

Another Russian, Anna Kalinskaya, earlier on Thursday saw off the spirited challenge of former world No.4 Sara Errani. 

Kalinskaya, seeded fifth, required eight match points to eventually subdue the Italian 6-2 1-6 6-2 to take her place in the second round, where she will take on Romania’s Laura Ioana Paar. 

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Anna Kalinskaya won a topsy-turvy clash with Sara Errani

Dart, who advanced to the third round at Wimbledon last year, said she was feeling better with every match at Melbourne Park. 

"I definitely stepped up today. I thought I dealt with the conditions a bit better and I was happy to have gotten a match under my belt beforehand, and I was just able to continue my form tonight,” she said. 

"Last year was a great learning curve for me. I played a lot of new tournaments and I was able to use all of that really good experience and build on that, and was able to have a really good run at Wimbledon, at my home Slam, which was great.

“Hopefully I can do more than that. With every round I'm gaining a bit more confidence, and of course I can take experience from last year (at Melbourne Park).” 

MORE: Men's qualifying wrap: Ruusuvuori shows glimpses of the future

Also advancing to the final round of qualifying was No.1 seed Ana Bogdan, who stopped the run of local Belinda Woolcock 6-2 6-3. 

She will next face Ann Li, after the 31st seed beat former world No.12 Yanina Wickmayer in straight sets. 

Shelby Rogers and Caroline Dolehide set up an all-American final round clash after straight-sets wins on Thursday, while 20th seed Monica Niculescu recovered to beat Viktoriya Tomova 1-6 6-1 6-4 to set up a final-round meeting with Swiss Stefanie Voegele. 

Eugenie Bouchard was another player to seal her place in the final round. 

The former world No.5 continued her encouraging 2020 form with a 6-3 6-1 dismissal of No.21 seed Maddison Inglis, the highest-ranked local in the qualifying draw. 

Bouchard, who reached the quarterfinals in Auckland last week, will play Italian Martina Trevisan for a place in the main draw at a tournament where she reached the semifinals in 2014.