Melbourne, Australia, 12 January 2022 | Leigh Rogers

Kimberly Birrell has booked her spot in the final round of the Australian Open 2022 qualifying competition.

The 23-year-old Australian wildcard scored a convincing 6-2 6-1 second-round victory against No.22 seed Ekaterine Gorgodze at Melbourne Park today.

“I’m really happy and excited that I get to play again. I’m stoked,” Birrell said.

Birrell made a blistering start against the 30-year-old Georgian, racing to a 4-0 lead and securing the opening set in 31 minutes.

From there, the world No.664 continued her impressive momentum. Birrell completely overpowered the world No.143, striking 24 winners in the 62-minute encounter.

Competing in only her second tournament after being sidelined for 10 months with a right elbow injury, Birrell admits she is playing without expectations.

“To be honest, even just playing first round on Monday meant so much to me,” Birrell said when asked what qualifying would mean to her.

“I’m just taking it one match at a time. Each time I’m stepping out on court, I’m pinching myself and feeling really grateful. I’m just really happy to be playing after what I’ve been through the last couple of years.”

Birrell is one of seven Australian women to advance to the second round in this year’s qualifying competition, the most in more than three decades.

> READ: Aussie women rewriting history in AO 2022 qualifying

Birrell admits supporting her fellow Aussies has been taking up a lot of her attention this week too.

“I’ve been non-stop on the (AO) app, refreshing the scores. I don’t even want to know what my screen time is,” she laughed. “Both the men and the women seem to be doing really well this week.”

“I especially feel really proud to be a female tennis player at the moment. The cohort of Australian female tennis is just so amazing. I think we’re all great people, on and off the court. I wish everyone well and I think we’re all rooting for each other, which is a really special feeling.”

Birrell now faces 25-year-old Brit Harriet Dart, who she warmed up with this morning, in the final qualifying round.

“I know she’s a really fierce competitor and never down and out,” Birrell said of the world No.125. “I’ll just have to put my best foot forward and see what happens.”

Australian Open 2022

Women’s qualifying singles, second round
[WC] Kimberly Birrell (AUS) d [22] Ekaterine Gorgodze (GEO) 6-2 6-1
Jang Su-jeong (KOR) d [WC] Taylah Preston (AUS) 6-0 6-0

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] Zoe Hives (AUS) v Emina Bektas (USA)

Women’s qualifying singles, final round
[WC] Kimberly Birrell (AUS) v [11] Harriet Dart (GBR)

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