Melbourne, Australia, 9 January 2023 | Leigh Rogers

Destanee Aiava has made a winning start to her Australian Open 2023 qualifying campaign.

The Aussie wildcard struck 20 winners to three in a 6-3 6-3 victory against Turkey’s Ipek Oz in first-round action at Melbourne Park today.

“I’m so happy. It’s my first Grand Slam match for a while and I’m just happy to get the win,” Aiava said after defeating the world No.180.

“I didn’t put too much expectation on myself. I just wanted to go out and implement what I’ve been doing in training.”

This is Aiava’s first Grand Slam-level victory since Australian Open 2020, when she reached the final qualifying round.

While the world No.325 hopes to earn a main-draw spot this week, she is keeping her expectations measured.

“I’m just looking to have fun this week,” she said. “This is my favourite tournament of the year and I’m just super grateful to Tennis Australia for giving me a chance to compete in the qualifying.”

Aiava has been ranked as high as world No.147, but struggled with her mental health last season and did not compete overseas.

Since bravely sharing her struggles, Aiava has been quietly building some impressive momentum.

She has now won eight of her past nine matches, having scooped an Australian Pro Tour title at Traralgon in November. It was the 22-year-old’s fifth career ITF singles title – and first in more than three years.

“I’m definitely coming into this (week) with a bit of confidence from my last tournaments,” she said. “I’ve been training heaps and playing some AMT doubles with a friend as well, just to keep my match fitness going. So yeah, I’m feeling good.”

Zoe Hives’ comeback is also gaining momentum. The 26-year-old Australian, who has dealt with a number of health concerns over the past few years, scored a 6-2 5-7 6-1 first-round victory today against France’s Harmony Tan.

Tan created worldwide headlines when she defeated Serena Williams at Wimbledon last year, but couldn’t wear down Hives in their two-hour and 14-battle at Kia Arena.

The news wasn’t so good for Arina Rodionova, Kaylah McPhee, Seone Mendez and Lizette Cabrera, all losing their opening-round matches.

Tickets to attend Australian Open 2023 qualifying are just $5 for kids and $10 for adults. Fans will also be able to see some of the world’s top-ranked players compete in practice matches at Melbourne Park.

> BUY NOW: Australian Open 2023 tickets

AUSSIES IN ACTION – Australian Open

Women’s qualifying singles, first round
Zoe Hives (AUS) d Harmony Tan (FRA) 6-2 5-7 6-1
[WC] Destanee Aiava (AUS) d Ipek Oz (TUR) 6-3 6-3
[4] Cristina Bucsa (ESP) d [WC] Kaylah McPhee (AUS) 6-4 6-0
[13] Elena-Gabriela Ruse (ROU) d [WC] Seone Mendez (AUS) 6-1 3-6 6-1
[23] CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) d Arina Rodionova (AUS) 6-4 7-6(8)
Elina Avanesyan d [WC] Lizette Cabrera (AUS) 6-2 6-3

Women’s qualifying singles, first round
Priscilla Hon (AUS) v Katrina Scott (USA)
Maddison Inglis (AUS) v Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)
[WC] Astra Sharma (AUS) v Katharina Hobgarski (GER)
[WC] Alexandra Bozovic (AUS) v [1] Alycia Parks (USA)
[WC] Ellen Perez (AUS) v [WC] Petra Hule (AUS)
[WC] Elysia Bolton (AUS) v [26] Jodie Burrage (GBR)

> VIEW: Full Australian Open 2023 women’s qualifying singles draw

Women’s qualifying singles, second round
Zoe Hives (AUS) v Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva (AND)
[WC] Destanee Aiava (AUS)
v Arianne Hartono (NED)

> READ: Bolt books second-round berth in AO 2023 qualifying

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