We are just a few days before the next week's inaugural Grand Slam tournament of the season. Although the clue of action in Australia in just behind the corner, this week in Melbourne is also full of heat, not just because of the summer time. Qualifications has started on Monday and plenty of important matches are already played, with some notable name on the cards, also on the side of those who need to forget about their appearance in opening Grand Slam of 2023.
The headline of first round of qualies was the elimination of Linda Noskova. 18 years old player from Czech Republic, who was sensational in last week's WTA 500 tournament in Adelaide, where she achieved her maiden final on WTA level, upsetting a few big names on her road, finished her Australian Open campaign as early as on the first qualies round on Monday. She needed to face a decent Canadian player Katherine Sebov, who could never be considered as a cakewalk, even despite of being favorite for Noskova. Sebov, ranked #192 in WTA ranking, managed to made an upset on Noskova winning 6-4 3-6 6-4 and crashing out the player, who reached her highest career ranking (56th place) on the same day.
Another big name who lost on Monday was Eugenie Bouchard. The Canadian star, who tries who find herself back on tour after long break caused by the injuries, managed to win a few matches in the second half of 2022, appearing in a couple tournaments due to wild cards. It made her ready to appear in AO qualies draw, but her form was not enough to defeat 18 years old Ashlyn Krueger (ranked #181) who won this match 6-3 1-6 6-4, advancing to the second round where she will face qualies seed #4 - Cristina Bucsa from Spain.
The most interesting matchup in women's QR1 was Katie Boutler between Caroline Dolehide. Boulter, recognized as a talented, but also injury prone player, won last week's W60 tournament in Canberra. Dolehide was a main draw participant in last year's AO, when she lost in R1 against American fellow - Danielle Collins. The duel between Boutler and Dolehide have not dissapointed, as players went distance with Boutler going through, winning it 10-5 in super tie-break of third set, which did not bring any breaks on both sides.
Men's QR1 brought the elimination of a couple of recognizable names from the top seed spots of the draw. Marco Cecchinato (seed #2) was forced to pull out of the match against Max Purcell. Italian withdrew in second set due to an injury. Seed #3 - Radu Albot, lost to Brandon Holt (ATP #216, USA) 7-5 3-6 4-6. Tim Van Rijthoven seeded with #8 was another one to withdraw due to an injury, while losing to Leandro Riedi from Switzerland, who achieved a Challenger Tour final in Canberra last week.
Fernando Verdasco who entered the qualies draw with seed #16 defeated Nino Serdarusic. The 39 years old famous Spaniard, who played a legendary match against Rafael Nadal in Australian Open 2009 semifinal is just two matches to enter the main draw once again, despite playing more often on the Challenger tour level right now.