11 January 2021 | Leigh Rogers

Three Australian players have advanced to the second round of Australian Open 2021 qualifying so far – and another 14 hope to join them.

Seven Australian women will compete in first-round qualifying matches in Dubai today, with seven Aussie men also on the schedule in Doha.

Storm Sanders is the first Australian in action, with her match scheduled for a 5pm AEDT start. The Western Australian has been handed a tough draw, pitted against top-seeded Slovenian Kaja Juvan.

They have played once before – in the second round of AO 2020 qualifying, where Sanders lost in three sets.

Although the rematch is played in a different location this year (an innovative solution to government-imposed restrictions on the number of players allowed to enter Australia this summer), Sanders is embracing the challenge.

“It’s a Grand Slam, it’s not just any tournament,” says the 26-year-old Sanders of competing in Australian Open qualifying offshore.

“Those opportunities don’t come around very often, (so I’m) very grateful to have the chance to play.”

> READ: Perez, Hijikata, Kubler a step closer to AO main draw

There are an abundance of exciting matches for Aussie tennis fans to enjoy today – from former world No.17 Bernard Tomic beginning his qualifying campaign, to wildcard Abbie Myers meeting Wimbledon 2014 finalist Eugenie Bouchard.

John-Patrick Smith, who spent time in 2020 coaching in his home town of Townsville, takes on Italian Paolo Lorenzo – who at 39, is the oldest man in the qualifying draw.

Max Purcell, a 22-year-old from Sydney who qualified at Australian Open 2020, faces Frenchman Hugo Gaston – a promising 20-year-old who beat former champion Stan Wawrinka at Roland Garros last year.

Ivana Popovic’s first-round opponent is Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko – a former world No.23 returning from injury and targeting an 11th consecutive AO main draw appearance.

A major milestone also beckons for four Australians, with rising stars Seone Mendez, Olivia Gadecki, Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz and Dane Sweeny all set to make their Grand Slam-level debuts.

Australian Open 2021 – qualifying day two

Women’s singles, first round – Dubai
[WC] Storm Sanders (AUS) v [1] Kaja Juvan (SLO), Court 2, first match (5pm AEDT start)
[WC] Alexandra Bozovic (AUS) v [3] Greet Minnen (BEL), Court 2, second match
[WC] Ivana Popovic (AUS) v [30] Lesia Tsurenko (UKR), Court 3, second match
[WC] Abbie Myers (AUS) v [25] Eugenie Bouchard (CAN), Court 1, third match
[WC] Olivia Gadecki (AUS) v Lara Salden (BEL), Court 3, third match
[WC] Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz (AUS) v [24] Viktoriya Tomova (BUL), Court 2, fourth match
[WC] Seone Mendez (AUS) v Marie Benoit (BEL), Court 3, fourth match

Men’s singles, first round – Doha
Andrew Harris (AUS) v Ruben Bemelmans (BEL), Court 3, first match (6.30pm AEDT start)
[WC] Tristan Schoolkate (AUS) v Guido Andreozzi (ARG), Court 4, first match (6.30pm AEDT start)
Bernard Tomic (AUS) v [14] Jozef Kovalik (SVK), Court B, second match
[WC] John-Patrick Smith v [25] Paolo Lorenzi (ITA), Court 4, second match
[WC] Dane Sweeny (AUS) v Marius Copil (ROU), Court 2, third match
[WC] Harry Bourchier (AUS) v Tallon Griekspoor (NED), Court 3, third match
Max Purcell (AUS) v Hugo Gaston (FRA), Court 4, fourth match

> VIEW: Full AO 2021 qualifying day two schedule

To follow all the qualifying action live, visit the official Australian Open website.