Melbourne, Australia, 10 January 2024 | Leigh Rogers

Playing without expectations is serving Priscilla Hon well in this year’s Australian Open women’s qualifying singles competition.

The world No.206 has progressed to the final qualifying round, a stage she last reached at her home Grand Slam in 2018.

“It’s been a while, so it feels great,” Hon said after scoring a hard-fought 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory against world No.139 Dalma Galfi in the second round.

It puts the 25-year-old from Brisbane within one win of earning a coveted main-draw spot.

Standing in her way is world No.144 Maria Timofeeva, a 20-year-old competing at the Australian Open for the first time.

They’ll contest their final qualifying match at Melbourne Park on Friday.

“Obviously I’d be super happy,” Hon said about potentially qualifying.

“But I don’t want to really think about that right now. There’s expectations all the time and I kind of put pressure on myself, so I just want to go out there and play each point.

“If I win, then great. But if not, then at least I’ve given it a good shot.”

> READ: Hon’s heart-warming gesture for late coach

Hon is already defying expectations, considering less than a month ago she was hospitalised with severe appendix pain.

“It came out of nowhere,” Hon related.

“I was actually on the way down to Sydney for a shoot on a Tuesday afternoon when I started feeling it. The next day I did the shoot all day and then it was still really hurting. That night I flew back to Brisbane and went to the hospital but couldn’t get a test, so went back the next day after training.

“My appendix didn’t burst, but I had to spend two nights in the hospital. They gave me antibiotics and put me on a drip.”

After avoiding surgery, Hon is thrilled to be back on court for the Australian summer of tennis.

“I’m somehow okay now,” she said. “I’ll probably have to get it out (her appendix) at some point, but hopefully not anytime soon.”

The perseverant Hon was among nine Australian women to win their opening-round qualifying matches this week, the most to do so in 36 years.

> READ: Aussie women rewriting history in Australian Open qualifying

She is the first Aussie into the final round and hopes more compatriots will soon join her there.

“I feel like most of the Aussies are winning. It’s really great to see,” she said of the host nation’s outstanding results so far this week.

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.

> BUY NOW: Australian Open 2024 tickets

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