Melbourne, Australia, 16 January 2023 | Leigh Rogers

Olivia Gadecki has made a memorable Australian Open main-draw debut.

The 20-year-old Aussie wildcard recorded an impressive 7-5 6-1 victory against qualifier Polina Kudermetova, the younger sister of top-10 star Veronika, in first-round women’s singles action today at Melbourne Park.

“I don’t even think I can put it into words,” beamed Gadecki after the match. “I’ve dreamt about it my whole life, and to really live it is just a whole other feeling.”

In a battle between two rising stars contesting their first Grand Slam main draws, it was world No.199 Gadecki who proved the most composed.

Opening play at Court 8, Gadecki calmly worked her way into the match against world No.182 Kudermetova.

The Gold Coast talent secured the first break in the 12th game, firing a backhand return winner to clinch the opening set.

With the momentum in her favour, Gadecki charged home. She won seven consecutive games to build a 5-0 lead, then closed out a breakthrough victory against 19-year-old Kudermetova in 76 minutes.

“The crowd was amazing today,” Gadecki said.

“I feel like in the past I’ve kind of kept to myself a bit. Today I just wanted to kind of let them in and really embrace the crowd. It’s such a once-in-a-lifetime sort of moment. So I’m really thankful for the crowd. They got me over the line.”

Finishing with seven aces and 19 winners, Gadecki also conceded only nine points on serve in a confident performance.

“My serve is one of my greatest strengths, so to have that when I’m feeling a little bit nervous or anxious out there is always something I really, really like,” she said.

This is Gadecki’s third career victory against a top 200-ranked opponent and her biggest win since upsetting world No.4 Sofia Kenin as an unranked wildcard during the Melbourne Summer Series in February 2021.

Gadecki’s second-round opponent will be world No.61-ranked Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, who eliminated No.28-seeded American Amanda Anisimova in the opening round.

“It’s such a confidence booster making the second round of a Slam,” Gadecki said.

“It’s just an amazing achievement, but I definitely believe that I can do more, and I’m really looking forward to my next round.”

In other women’s singles action today, French qualifier Clara Burel proved too strong for 18-year-old wildcard Talia Gibson, scoring a 6-3 6-4 victory in their first-round clash.

Gibson produced a gallant performance, but 41 unforced errors proved costly in the 79-minute encounter.

While China’s Wang Xinyu recorded a 7-6(2) 6-4 opening-round win against Storm Hunter.

AUSSIES IN ACTION – Australian Open

Women’s singles, first round
[WC] Olivia Gadecki (AUS) d [Q] Polina Kudermetova 7-5 6-1
Wang Xinyu (CHN) d [WC] Storm Hunter (AUS) 7-6(2) 6-4
[Q] Clara Burel (FRA) d [WC] Talia Gibson (AUS) 6-3 6-4

Men’s singles, first round
[WC] Jason Kubler (AUS) d Sebastian Baez (ARG) 6-4 6-4 6-4
[WC] John Millman (AUS) d Marc-Andrea Huesler (SUI) 6-7(8) 7-5 6-7(2) 6-2 6-3
[WC] Rinky Hijikata (AUS) d [Q] Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 4-6 4-6 6-3 7-6(5) 6-3

> READ: Hijikata stages incredible comeback at AO 2023

Women’s singles, first round
[WC] Jaimee Fourlis (AUS) v Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE)
[WC] Kimberly Birrell (AUS) v [31] Kaia Kanepi (EST)

Women’s singles, second round
[WC] Olivia Gadecki (AUS) v Marta Kostyuk (UKR)

Men’s singles, first round
[22] Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Yu Hsiou Hsu (TPE)
Chris O’Connell (AUS) v Jenson Brooksby (USA)
Jordan Thompson (AUS) v J.J. Wolf (USA)
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) v Fabio Fognini (ITA)
[Q] Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) v [Q] Brandon Holt (USA)
[Q] Max Purcell (AUS) v Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN)
[WC] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v Chun-Hsin Tseng (TPE)

Men’s singles, second round
[WC] Rinky Hijikata (AUS) v [3] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)
[WC] Jason Kubler (AUS)
v [18] Karen Khachanov
[WC] John Millman (AUS) v [7] Daniil Medvedev

> READ: Australian Open doubles draws revealed

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