Melbourne, Australia, 12 January 2022 | Darren Parkin

It was a tough day for Australian men at Melbourne Park, with six departing Australian Open 2022 qualifying in the second round.

Dane Sweeny’s run came to an end against Kazakhstan’s Timofey Skatov in straight sets. The 20-year-old Australian battled to create chances against the junior world No.1, but Skatov eventually claimed 6-4 6-2 victory.

After a stunning Grand Slam debut in the previous round, Philip Sekulic’s exited to Kazakhstan’s Dmitry Popko in straight sets.

Sekulic, named the Male Junior Athlete of the Year at the 2021 Australian Tennis Awards, received a wildcard into qualifying on the back of a strong finish to 2021, when he reached back-to-back finals on the ITF Tour.

Sekulic finished the first set well, having fallen behind a double break but after Popko landed an early break in the second, he closed out the 6-4 6-2.

Max Purcell will his attention to Australian Open doubles after exiting to Czech Jiri Lehecka 7-6 (2) 7-6 (8).

Purcell had three break points at 5-5 in the first set, but Lehecka recovered before winning the first set in a tiebreak.

The Australian had four set points in the second-set tiebreak but couldn’t capitalise.

“I didn’t think I did too much wrong on those points, he just served big in those moments,” Purcell reflected.

“I’ve got doubles with Matty Ebden, and after that I’ll head to the ATP 250 in Pune (India) and hopefully a couple of challengers in India as well,” Purcell said.

Rinky Hijikata also fell in the second round of qualifying, succumbing to an ankle injury early in the second set of his clash with Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Meanwhile, Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry withheld a spirited fightback from Australian Jason Kubler to prevail in three sets.

Etcheverry had three match points on serve at 7-5 5-3 40-0 before Kubler took nine of the next ten points against his serve, reeling off four straight games to claim the second set 7-5.

The 28-year-old Queenslander had a break point chance early in the third, but Etcheverry steadied and eventually closed it out 7-5 5-7 6-3.

Marc Polmans lost a cliffhanger three-set battle with Portugal’s Joao Sousa.

Polmans started brilliantly, with strong serving and groundstrokes helping him secure the only break of the first set.

The second set was a reversal of fortunes as veteran Sousa took command of the contest with a near flawless display of tennis.

Polmans found his confidence and range again in the third as the battle tightened up, with Sousa eventually prevailing at his sixth match point opportunity in a marathon 10th game of the set.

Men’s qualifying singles, second round
Timofey Skatov (KAZ)  d [WC] Dane Sweeny (AUS) 6-4 6-2
Dmitry Popko (KAZ)  d [WC] Philip Sekulic (AUS) 6-4 6-2
[18] Jiri Lehecka (CZE) d Max Purcell (AUS) 7-6(2) 7-6(8)
[30] Damir Dzumhur (BOS)  d [WC]Rinky Hijikata 6-4 2-1 Ret.
[12] Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG) d Jason Kubler (AUS) 7-5 5-7 6-3
[17] Joao Sousa (POR) d Marc Polmans [AUS] 3-6 6-0 6-4

Men’s qualifying singles, second round
Edward Winter (AUS) v Jesper De Hong (NED)
Matt Ebden (AUS) v Dominic Stricker (SUI)