2012 Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani, 2010 Wimbledon semi-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova and current WTA Doubles World No.4 Timea Babos all earned earned victories in the first round of Australian Open qualifiers in the UAE on Sunday.
Errani ousted 2018 Australian Open junior champion Liang En-shuo from Taiwan, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 and Pironkova, seeded No.21, cruised past Japan’s Kyoka Okamura, 6-0, 6-1.
“The courts are really fast, so it’s really tough to play here for me, but I did good preparation and I’m trying my best,” Errani said after the match. “I’m really happy to win today.”
Of the 14 Australians in action in the Middle East at the qualifiers, Sydney teenager Rinky Hijikata produced an upset on Sunday, defeating experienced American Christopher Eubanks 6-2 6-3 in the men’s event in Doha.
The former Youth Olympics doubles silver medallist joined Jason Kubler, who later beat fellow Aussie Matt Ebden 7-5 2-6 6-4, in the second round.
In Dubai at the women’s qualifiers, Ellen Perez, also progressed, fighting back in a thrilling final set to edge out American Caroline Dolehide 6-3 5-7 7-5.
In other matches No.6 seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia beat Hungary’s Dalma Galfi, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, and No.9 seed Katarina Zavatska of Ukraine ousted 2019 Australian Open junior champion Clara Tauson of Denmark, 6-3, 6-3.