Tennis: Australians off to good start in Wimbledon qualifying

Three Australian men are two victories away from the Wimbledon main draw after winning their first-round qualifying matches.

Australia’s hopes of a double-digit presence in Wimbledon’s men’s singles draw are alive, with three out of four players winning their first-round qualifying matches.

Second seed Jason Kubler, No.30 seed Max Purcell and 21-year-old Rinky Hijikata are two victories away from joining their seven countrymen at the All England Club next week.

Goal Andrew Harris bowed out 6-4 7-5 to France’s Antoine Hoang.

Fellow Australians Alex de Minaur, Nick Kyrgios, Jordan Thompson, James Duckworth, Thanasi Kokkinakis, John Millman and Alexei Popyrin are already in the draw.

Kubler is experiencing a career renaissance, including qualifying for his maiden French Open this year and making it to round two.

The world No.98, who also won a Challenger title at Little Rock, Arkansas, and made another final at Orlando, battled back from dropping the first set to defeat Turkey’s Cem Ilkel 3-6 7-5 6-2 at Roehampton.

His rush of strong lead-in form came narrowly too late for him to avoid qualifying, but he is setting himself up well for the second half of the season.

Kubler hit 10 aces past Ilkel and didn’t face a break point in the deciding set as he booked a clash with Argentine Thiago Agustin Tirante.

He successfully qualified for Wimbledon four years ago and made it to the final round of qualifying a year later.

Purcell and Hijikata had smoother paths against Gijs Brouwer and Geoffrey Blancaneaux, respectively, as they chase a Wimbledon main draw debut.

Purcell, a noted grass-court performer who made it to the Eastbourne semi-finals at this time last year, three of four break points in downing Brouwer 7-5 7-6(9-7).

The world No.156’s second-round qualifying opponent is Portuguese veteran Gastao Elias.

Hijikata next meets Frenchman Alexandre Muller after beating his compatriot Blancaneaux 7-5 6-3 in an impressive display.

Australia’s women will start their Wimbledon campaigns on Tuesday night after the qualifying draw was locked in as they try to join Ajla Tomljanovic and wildcard recipient Daria Saville.

Priscilla Hon, Zoe Hives, Storm Sanders, fifth seed Maddison Inglis, Seone Mendez, Lizette Cabrera, No.27 seed Olivia Gadecki, 10th seed Astra Sharma, Kaylah McPhee, Ellen Perez and Jaimee Fourlis are the contenders.

AUSTRALIA’S WIMBLEDON QUALIFYING MATCHES

Women: Priscilla Hon v Valentini Grammatikopoulou (Greece)

Zoe Hives v 20-Gabriela Lee (Romania)

Storm Sanders v WC-Anna Brogan (Great Britain)

5-Maddison Inglis v Indy De Vroome (Netherlands)

Seone Mendez v Natalija Stevanovic (Serbia)

Lizette Cabrera v Elsa Jacquemot (France)

27-Olivia Gadecki v Sarah Beth Gray (Great Britain)

10-Astra Sharma v Joanne Zuger (Switzerland)

Kaylah McPhee v Conny Perrin (Switzerland)

Ellen Perez v Robin Anderson (USA)

Jaimee Fourlis v Dea Herdzelas (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Aussie assault on Wimbledon qualifying

In-form Australian Jason Kubler will attempt to qualify for consecutive grand slams when he starts his Wimbledon campaign on Monday night.

Countrymen Max Purcell, Andrew Harris and Rinky Hijikata join Kubler in the qualifying draw at Roehampton, London.

They are trying to join Alex de Minaur, Nick Kyrgios, Jordan Thompson, James Duckworth, Thanasi Kokkinakis, John Millman and Alexei Popyrin in the Wimbledon main draw.

Kubler broke back into the top 100 last week but not in time to earn direct entry into the All England Championships, leaving him as the No.2 seed in qualifying.

He begins against Turkey’s Cem Ilkel and is projected to meet 24th-seeded Swede Elias Ymer in final-round qualifying, after advancing to round two at this year’s French Open.

Purcell, the 30th seed, thrives on grass-courts but will contest Wimbledon qualifying for just the second time after falling short in 2018.

He is making a significant sacrifice to compete, given Wimbledon won’t offer any ranking points this year.

Purcell made the semi-finals at Eastbourne last year in a career-best run but will forgo the chance to defend those points to enter Wimbledon qualifying, where Dutchman Gijs Brouwer is his first hurdle.

Harris faces France’s Antoine Hoang in his opener, while Hijikata takes on fellow Frenchman Geoffrey Blancaneaux.

Chris O’Connell opted to skip Wimbledon qualifying to focus on his top-100 bid.

There will be a larger Australian contingent in women’s qualifying, with the draw yet to be conducted.

Maddison Inglis could sneak into the main draw but is currently on the qualifying list, alongside Astra Sharma, Olivia Gadecki, Lizette Cabrera, Arina Rodionova, Storm Sanders, Ellen Perez, Jaimee Fourlis and Priscilla Hon.

Zoe Hives and Kaylah McPhee are also using special rankings to play after respective illness and injury battles.

Sanders warmed up for Wimbledon by partnering Katerina Siniakova to the WTA 500 Berlin doubles title.

Ajla Tomljanovic, who made the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year, and wildcard recipient Daria Saville are already in the main draw for the grass-court grand slam.

Elsewhere, Millman and Duckworth qualified for Eastbourne to join de Minaur in the main draw, while Thompson did the same at the Mallorca event that Kyrgios is also playing in.

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