Melbourne, Australia, 12 January 2024 | Jackson Mansell

The seven-year wait for Omar Jasika to return to a Grand Slam main draw is over, after he came from a set down to defeat world No.190 Abedallah Shelbayh in the final round of Australian Open qualifying.

Despite losing the first set in 31 minutes, the Australian crawled his way back to record a 2-6 6-1 6-2 victory.

Returning to the main draw of his home Grand Slam for the first time since 2017 provided the perfect end to Jasika’s week of quality tennis.

“There are no words that can describe my feeling right now,” he said. “(It’s) mixed emotions to be honest. Super excited, kind of scratching my head wondering what’s going on.

“It’s been a few years since I’ve been back playing in front of my friends and family. I’ve played three good matches, so I feel like I’ve deserved my spot in the main draw.”

Nerves got the better of the 26-year-old in the opening set, as Shelbayh dominated in his service games. Just three points off the Jordanian’s serve had Jasika on the ropes early. However, the Victorian knew he could regain momentum by stretching his opponent.

“I think I came out a bit slow,” Jasika explained of the opening set. “I was a little nervous because last night all I could really think about was trying to win.

“He beat a really good guy (Hamad Medjedovic) yesterday and I knew he had a long match, so I knew that if I stood (hung) in there, it would take his legs out a little more.”

In further good news for Australian players, Dane Sweeny also completed a successful qualifying campaign. With victory over No.22 seed Zizou Bergs, Sweeny turned his long-held dream of contesting a Grand Slam main draw into reality.

“For it to go from something in my imagination to a reality is quite surreal at the moment but I do think I’ve been playing the tennis that is good enough in these big events,” said Sweeny.

Locked at a set apiece, Sweeny led 2-0 in the deciding set before his Belgian opponent retired with injury.

Jasika and Sweeny’s successful qualifying runs boost the number of Aussies in this year’s Australian Open men’s singles draw to 15, which is the most since 1998.

A total of three Australians qualified this year, with Storm Hunter earning her spot in the women’s singles main draw. This is the best result for local hopes in the Australian Open qualifying competition since 1992.

Main-draw action begins on 14 January, marking the first Sunday start in the tournament’s history.

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Aussies in action – Australian Open

Men’s qualifying singles, final round
[WC] Dane Sweeny (AUS) d [22] Zizou Bergs (BEL) 5-7 7-5 2-0 ret.
[WC] Omar Jasika (AUS) d Abdullah Shelbayh (JOR) 2-6 6-1 6-2

Women’s qualifying singles, final round
Storm Hunter (AUS) d Dominika Salkova (CZE) 3-6 6-3 6-4
[1] Dayana Yastremska (UKR) d [WC] Maya Joint (AUS) 6-2 1-6 6-4
[2] Renata Zarazua (MEX) d Destanee Aiava (AUS) 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4
[24] Daria Snigur (UKR) d [WC] Maddison Inglis (AUS) 6-2 5-7 6-3
Maria Timofeeva d Priscilla Hon (AUS) 6-2 4-6 6-1

> READ: Aussie hopes handed difficult draws at Australian Open 2024

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