Melbourne, Australia, 9 January 2024 | Jackson Mansell

Dane Sweeny has made a strong start to his Australian Open 2024 qualifying campaign, with the Aussie wildcard claiming a straight-sets win over the higher-ranked Matteo Gigante.

The 22-year-old Sweeny completed his 7-6(3) 7-5 win over world No.171 Gigante in an hour and 42 minutes.

In a tight contest, Sweeny’s ability to force the 22-year-old Italian into playing an extra shot during rallies helped to undo the Italian’s raw talent. Unforced errors also factored, with Gigante recording a costly 43 compared to 21 from world No.255 Sweeny.

The New South Welshman was determined to improve on his performance in Brisbane International qualifying, when he claimed only three games in a loss to world No.84 Gregoire Barrere.

“I had a few self-doubts. I had a really quick match last week. I don’t think I was even on court for an hour,” said Sweeny after victory over Gigante.

“I’ve been training really hard in the pre-season, but I felt a little bit underdone match-wise. So to come out and play a good level for most of the match, I’m thrilled.”

Little separated the pair on the scoreboard during the opening set, however a multitude of errors from the Italian helped Sweeny capitalise in the tiebreak.

Gigante and Sweeny each struggled to hold their serve in the second set, with six consecutive breaks at the start of the set.

When Gigante at last held serve to lead 4-3 it placed pressure on the Aussie, but Sweeny maintained composure to hold serve in the next game.

“It’s tough because this is the tournament you want to win the most, you want to win the matches so badly,” he commented of the closing stage of the match.

“It’s quite hard to remain calm but definitely the negative thoughts were there with full force. But I did a good job today of keeping (those thoughts) at bay and not adhere to them too much.”

It proved a valuable outlook, with Sweeny securing victory when Gigante dropped serve again in the 12th game.

The Australian needs to win two more matches to progress to his maiden Grand Slam – a dream he has held since an early age.

“I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was two years old, so to play main draw, it would be unbelievable,” related Sweeny.

“I think I’m playing at a level where I can achieve it right now, but right now it’s not worrying about that, it’s about the next match.”

Sweeny meets another Italian, world No.117 Luca Nardi, in the second round of the qualifying competition.

Tickets to attend Australian Open 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.

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Aussies in action – Australian Open

Men’s qualifying singles, first round
[WC] Dane Sweeny (AUS)
d Matteo Gigante (ITA) 7-6(3) 7-5
Joris De Loore (BEL) d Li Tu (AUS) 7-6(11) 7-6(4)
[31] Camilo Ugo Carabelli (ARG) d [WC] Hayden Jones (AUS) 6-0 3-6 6-2
Riccardo Bonadio (ITA) d [WC] Pavle Marinkov (AUS) 7-5 7-6(2)

Men’s qualifying singles, first round
John Millman (AUS) v Alessandro Giannessi (ITA)
[WC] Tristan Schoolkate (AUS) v Sho Shimabukuro (JPN)
[WC] Philip Sekulic (AUS) v Oriol Roca Batalla (ESP)
[WC] Omar Jasika (AUS) v Dalibor Svrcina (CZE)
[WC] Jeremy Jin (AUS) v [2] Flavio Cobolli (ITA)
[WC] Edward Winter (AUS) v Franco Agamenone (ITA)

Men’s qualifying singles, second round
[WC] Dane Sweeny (AUS) v [13] Luca Nardi (ITA)

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

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