​Australian Open Qualifying Begins Impressively For Konjuh

Ana Konjuh (photo: Australian Open)

WASHINGTON, January 11, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Ana Konjuh, a former World No. 20 from Croatia, knows a thing or two about survival. After all, she’s survived four elbow surgeries following an injurious nightmare run. Appearing for the first time in a Grand Slam tournament since 2018 at Wimbledon, Konjuh came back from a 6-1, 5-2 lead against former World No. 45 Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany, seeded fourth, to triumph 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-4 – winning the final three games. The victory by Konjuh advanced her to the second round of the Australian Open women’s qualifying draw tournament in Dubai.

The 23-year-old Konjuh, now ranked 476th, was out of action for more than a year and one-half. So, getting back on court is a huge step toward not only playing again but striving to improve upon her ranking. It takes three wins to earn a main draw berth in Melbourne and Konjuh is one-third of the way to qualifying for next month’s Australian Open.

“It’s been awesome (playing again), to be honest,” she said, quoted by the Australian Open website. “I wasn’t sure that I would be here, actually. I got a wild card – thanks to Craig (Tiley) and his team for giving me a chance to compete again. It feels great.

“Definitely, my perspective has changed. They say I’m still young, but I don’t feel like that at all.”

Next, Konjuh will face No. 178 Carla Buyukakcay of Turkey, who beat wild card Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra, 6-4, 6-4.

Italy’s 17th seed Sara Errani, who once was ranked as high as World No. 5, endured a three-setter to advance over Liang En-Shuo of Taiwan and Hungary’s seventh seed Timea Babos, one of the WTA’s top-ranked doubles players, defeated Marina Melnikova of Russia, 6-3, 6-3. Also, 2020 US Open quarterfinalist Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, seeded 21st, eased by Kyoka Okamura of Japan, 6-0, 6-1; and 20th seed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovenia advanced as did Americans Sachia Vickery and Hailey Baptiste.

The biggest upset Sunday saw No. 2 seed Oceane Dodin of France lose to Isabella Siniakova of Bulgaria, 7-5, 6-2.

Of the 16 seeded players who were in action Sunday, nine of them advanced and seven lost.

Sunday’s results

Monday’s order of play