London, Great Britain, 28 June 2023 | Vivienne Christie

As new milestones accumulate in a career-best season, there’s one that’s high on Olivia Gadecki’s ‘to do’ list as the main draw of Wimbledon 2023 approaches.

“I haven’t walked through the gates yet, so I’m waiting until I qualify to do that,” Gadecki smiled of the iconic All England Club in London’s leafy south-west. “It would be a very special moment for me.”

The 21-year-old Queenslander moved an impressive step closer to that achievement as she defeated American Ann Li 6-3 6-1 in the second round of the ladies’ qualifying tournament.

As she completed her straight-sets win in under an hour, there was another milestone of note for Gadecki.

“I’m really glad to get that win under my belt,” she noted. “It’s my first time being in the last round of quallies at a Slam, so I’m really excited to get out there tomorrow.”

Gadecki will take confidence from an all-round imperious performance against Li, in which she recovered from a first-set deficit by winning six straight games.

She then extended the streak to 11 games in the second set.

“Just my mental application throughout the whole match,” Gadecki commented when asked what pleased her the most about the performance.

“I was 0-3 down in the first (set) but I still managed to hang in there and stayed strong.”

Recording 12 winners compared to seven from her opponent, Gadecki showed how her powerful weapons are well suited to grass courts.

“I really love the grass. I think it’s such a great surface for the game. It’s really allowed me to learn new things and develop,” said Gadecki, who also showcased finesse as she successfully completed many points at the net.

“I love being at the net. Any chance that I get, I’m storming there.”

As Gadecki’s campaign continues against Spain’s Jessica Barzas Maneiro, she takes powerful inspiration from fellow Queenslander Ash Barty.

The former world No.1 and 2021 Wimbledon ladies’ singles champion has been an accessible mentor throughout Gadecki’s development.

“Of course. If there’s anyone to look up to, it’s to Ash,” she beamed. “In every aspect of my life. To follow in her footsteps is really something I’d like to do.”

It was also a day to remember for Storm Hunter, who eliminated No.1 seed Elina Avanesyan in two tiebreak sets.

Hunter earned the chance to qualify for a second consecutive Grand Slam – having also done so at Roland Garros – with a hard-fought win against the world No.64.

The Melbourne-based Hunter recovered from a 1-3 deficit in the second set to complete her defining victory in one hour and 49 minutes.

It is world No.164 Hunter’s career-first top-100 singles victory on grass.

The upset win sets a final-round encounter with Japan’s Nao Hibino as the 28-year-old Hunter aims to compete in the main draw at The Championships for the first time.

Fellow Australians Jaimee Fourlis and Priscilla Hon were each considering next steps after each exited in the second round.

Fourlis’ hopes of qualifying for The Championships for a second straight season were dashed by Slovakia’s Viktoria Hruncakova, while Hon exited to Italy’s Lucrezia Stefanini.

> READ: Persistence pays as Polmans reaches final round of Wimbledon qualifying

Aussies in action – Wimbledon

Ladies’ qualifying singles, second round
[27] Olivia Gadecki (AUS) d Ann Li (USA) 6-3 6-1
Storm Hunter (AUS) d [1] Elina Avanesyan 7-6(1) 7-6(3)
[18] Lucrezia Stefanini (ITA) d Priscilla Hon (AUS) 6-2 7-6(5)
[21] Viktoria Hruncakova (SVK) d Jaimee Fourlis (AUS) 6-1 6-3

Gentlemen’s qualifying singles, second round
Marc Polmans (AUS) d Zachary Svajda (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-3
Harold Mayot (FRA) d [7] James Duckworth (AUS) 6-4 6-4 
Tomas Barrios Vera (CHI) d [9] Rinky Hijikata (AUS) 7-6(3) 7-6(2)

Ladies’ qualifying singles, final round
[27] Olivia Gadecki (AUS) v Jessica Bouzas Maneiro (ESP)
Storm Hunter (AUS) v [22] Nao Hibino (JPN)

Gentlemen’s qualifying singles, final round
Marc Polmans (AUS) v Oscar Otte (GER)

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