Melbourne, Australia, 11 January 2022 | Leigh Rogers

Seven Australians have advanced to the second round in this year’s Australian Open women’s singles qualifying draw – the most in more than three decades.

“It’s so good. It shows the depth of (Australian) women’s tennis is huge,” said 22-year-old Jaimee Fourlis, who scored a 7-5 6-2 opening-round victory against Spain’s Irene Burillo Escorihuela at Melbourne Park today.

Fourlis credits world No.1 Ash Barty for setting an incredible example for her fellow Australian players.

“Ash leads by example,” Fourlis said. “I look up to Ash so much and anything she does, we all aspire to be.”

Fourlis’ victory today was her first Australian Open singles win since reaching the second round as a 17-year-old wildcard in 2017.

“It’s been really tough the past few years, having shoulder surgery and then not doing as well as I had hoped,” admitted the world No.327.

“I’m super pumped with today’s win. There are a lot of people who deserve to be acknowledged – my physio, my coach, strength and conditioning, my family, my psychs. There are a lot of people behind this win, not just myself on the court.”

Zoe Hives was equally elated after scoring a 7-5 6-0 victory against China’s Han Xinyun. The 25-year-old has been sidelined with illness (glandular fever and POTS) since September 2019.

“Just to be out there and playing a match again was amazing,” said Hives, who was at a career-high ranking of No.140 when she was forced off tour.

“I don’t think that it’s sunk in yet that I won my first match back, but it means so much. I’ve put in so much work to get back.”

Adding to the positive momentum in Australian women’s tennis, 22-year-old Seone Mendez and 16-year-old Taylah Preston recorded their first Grand Slam-level wins today.

> READ: Perth teen Preston makes impressive Australian Open debut

Other Aussies victors included No.30 seed Arina Rodionova, who enjoyed a convincing straight-sets win against Switzerland’s Susan Bandecchi, and Lizette Cabrera.

“Australian Open is my favourite time of the year,” beamed 24-year-old Cabrera after overcoming American Sachia Vickery in three sets.

Australian Open 2022

Women’s qualifying singles, first round
[30] Arina Rodionova (AUS) d Susan Bandecchi (SUI) 6-4 6-2
Lizette Cabrera (AUS) 
d Sachia Vickery (USA) 6-3 6-7(5) 6-2
Jaimee Fourlis (AUS)
d Irene Burillo Escorihuela (ESP) 7-5 6-2
Seone Mendez (AUS) 
d Jodie Burrage (GBR) 5-7 6-1 6-4
[WC] Taylah Preston (AUS) 
d Kurumi Nara (JPN) 7-5 6-4
[WC] Zoe Hives (AUS) d Han Xinyun (CHN) 7-5 6-0
[21] Catherine McNally (USA) d [WC] Catherine Aulia (AUS) 6-0 6-3
Katie Swan (GBR) d [WC] Abbie Myers (AUS) 6-2 6-4
Arianne Hartono (NED) d [WC] Talia Gibson (AUS) 4-6 6-4 6-1
Jana Fett (CRO) d [WC] Destanee Aiava (AUS) 3-6 6-3 7-5

Women’s qualifying singles, second round
[30] Arina Rodionova (AUS) v Mirjam Bjorklund (SWE)
Lizette Cabrera (AUS)
v Richel Hogenkamp (NED)
Jaimee Fourlis (AUS)
v [2] Martina Trevisan (ITA)
Seone Mendez (AUS) 
v [13] Zheng Qinwen (CHN)
[WC] Kimberly Birrell (AUS) 
v [22] Ekaterine Gorgodze (GEO)
[WC] Zoe Hives (AUS) v Emina Bektas (USA)
[WC] Taylah Preston (AUS) v Jang Su-jeong (KOR)

> VIEW: Full Australian Open 2022 women’s qualifying singles draw