Qualies Corner: Troicki, Marino seal main-draw berths in Melbourne

Qualies Corner: Troicki, Marino seal main-draw berths in Melbourne

Viktor Troicki and Rebecca Marino numbered among the 32 men and women who will be heading to the Australian Open after winning their final rounds of qualifying.

The final round of Australian Open qualifying came to a thrilling conclusion on Wednesday, as the event played across?Doha and Dubai yielded 32 men and women heading to Melbourne as main draw entrants for the 2021 edition of the tournament—set to take place in early February.

Catch up with all the results you missed overnight:

Troicki’s Re-Serb-gence

The former world No. 12 was ranked just outside the Top 50, only for a lower back injury to send him tumbling to No. 259 the following year—his lowest since 2014.

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Largely relegated to the Challenger circuit for the subsequent 24 months, the Serb failed to qualify at both the Australian Open and Roland Garros in 2020, and appeared on course for another early exit when he lost the first set of his opening round to Jurij Rodionov on Sunday.

The 34-year-old rebounded in emphatic style from there, and didn’t drop another set for the rest of the week, stunning No. 11 seed Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, 6-4, 6-2, to play his first Grand Slam main draw since the 2019 Australian Open.

Marino Makes Full Circle Return

It’s been an?even longer wait for Canadian Rebecca Marino, who last appeared in a major main draw in 2013, when injuries and mental health struggles soon forced her off the court indefinitely.

She returned in early 2018, winning a trio of ITF Pro Circuit titles in Antalya, but a steady climb back up the rankings was derailed 18 more months off court due to a foot injury.

Unseeded in qualifying, she barreled through her section without dropping a set, and struck 16 aces to seal Maryna Zanevska, 6-4, 7-6(9), and test herself among the game’s elite for the first time in nearly a decade.

Tomic takes the?tie-breaks

The former Top 20 star has played some notoriously short matches in his career, but none of them came in Doha this week in his bid to return to Grand Slam action.

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He survived fellow Aussie Tristan Schoolkate in a 10-3 match tie-break just to reach the final round of qualifying, and needed to play another against John-Patrick Smith. Deadlocked at 6-6 in the final set, Tomic survived again, 10-7, and the quest to rebuild his ranking from an 11-year low of No. 228 continues for the 28-year-old.

Jones inspires with epic wins

Francesca Jones gave British fans something to cheer about when she blitzed Lu Jiajing, 6-0, 6-1 to make her maiden major main draw at just 20 years of age.

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Born with a rare condition known as Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia (EED), Jones only has four fingers on each hand, four toes on one foot and three toes on another. The condition, according to Jones, ought to have precluded her from playing tennis entirely, and yet the young Brit has already beat the odds with an outstanding qualifying run, that included impressive wins over Monica Niculescu and Jana Fett.

The Best of the Rest

American trio Maxime Cressy, Michael Mmoh and Whitney Osuigwe made it through their respective final rounds. Mmoh, who made the second round of last year’s fortnight as a wildcard, defeated Arthur Rinderknech, 6-3, 7-6(3), while Cressy survived the flashy Dustin Brown, 7-6(5), 6-4.

Osuigwe won a titanic clash with No. 22 seed Mihaela Buzarnescu, who was a Top 20 player just two years ago. Rallying from a set down, the young American broke Buzarnescu as she served for the match and rode the momentum into a 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-2 victory.

Egypt’s Mayar Sherif made good on her historic bid to become the first from her country to play an Australian Open main draw, sweeping aside Aleksandra Krunic, 6-1, 6-2, while Serbian Olga Danilovic, who won her first WTA title as a teenager back in 2018, will make her own long-awaited Grand Slam debut in Melbourne, outlasting Ankita Raina, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.

Clara Burel—who already has a fan in Daria Gavrilova—knocked out Maria Camila Osorio Serrano, 6-4, 6-3; the French teenager made a thrilling run to the third round of Roland Garros last fall as a wildcard, and will make her second appearance in Melbourne’s main draw, having also received a wildcard there in 2019.

Two final round qualifying clashes could have easily been main-draw encounters in years past, as 2012 French Open finalist Sara Errani ended former U.S. Open quarterfinalist Ana Konjuh’s comeback bid from a protracted elbow injury, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, and new mom Tsvetana Pironkova continued her stunning run of form since returning to tennis last summer, defeating former world No. 41 Margarita Gasparyan, 6-3, 7-5.