Hantuchova, local hopefuls eye main draw
By Michael Beattie
Wednesday, 11 January, 2017
The Australian Open women’s qualifying draw has been released, with six Australians among the 96-strong field of hopefuls just three wins away from a main-draw berth in Melbourne.
Top seed Stefanie Voegele will face Russian 18-year-old Anna Kalinskaya in the first round as she bids to reach the main draw at Melbourne Park for the sixth time. Kalinskaya, the world No.187, is making her Grand Slam qualifying debut this week. The winner will face Australia’s Abbie Myers or Amra Sadikovic of Switzerland in the second round.
Russia’s Ksenia Pervak, the Australian Open 2009 junior girls’ champion, returns to Melbourne Park for the first time since 2013 to face No.2 seed Tatjana Maria of Germany, while No.3 seed Kai-Chen Chang of Taipei takes on Austria’s Barbara Haas.
All six Australians in the qualifying field are wild cards. Storm Sanders faces Canadian rising star Francoise Abanda, who won their only previous meeting in 2015, while Tammi Patterson takes on No.12 seed Lin Zhu of China and Olivia Rogowska takes on No.22 seed Cindy Burger of the Netherlands for the first time. Naiktha Bains will face Russia’s world No.195 Ksenia Lykina, Ellen Perez is up against Slovenia’s Tadeja Majeric.
The 48 first-round matches get underway on Thursday, with entry to Melbourne Park free throughout the event. Gates open at 9.30am, with play commencing at 10am.
Among the remaining first-round fixtures, standout ties include No.10 seed Silvia Soler-Espinosa’s showdown with doubles world No.1 Bethanie Mattek-Sands and 2008 Australian Open semifinalist Daniela Hantuchova’s match-up with No.13 seed Natalia Vikhlyantseva.
There are also intriguing clashes between Bulgaria’s Sesil Karatantcheva and Anna Blinkova of Russia, American No.14 seed Taylor Townsend taking on 22-year-old Czech Tereza Smitkova, France’s Virginie Razzano up against Canadian wildcard Aleksandra Wozniak, Czech Lucie Hradecka’s clash with Antonia Lottner of Germany, and Laura Robson’s return to Melbourne for the first time since 2014 – the Melbourne-born Briton will face France’s Amandine Hesse.