Hua Hin, Thailand, 27 January 2024 | Leigh Rogers

Two Australians – Daria Saville and Taylah Preston – have advanced to the final qualifying round at the Thailand Open.

Saville made a winning start at the WTA 250 tournament, defeating France’s Amandine Hesse in the opening round.

“It’s always tricky to start well after such a big Aussie summer. I was pretty tired after the summer and it felt like a bit of a hangover,” the 29-year-old laughed.

“It’s a big relief that I ended up winning this. It was a bit too close in the end.”

Saville, currently ranked No.152, is the eighth seed in the qualifying draw.

“I’ve got to go through qualifying, that’s the reality and that’s where my ranking is at,” Saville said.

“This is my competition right now. Obviously the goal is to get back to a ranking which will get me main draw entry to these tournaments.”

The former world No.20 has extra motivation as well to extend her stay at the hard-court tournament even longer.

“I’m really enjoying Thailand, especially the foot massages and the food,” she said.

To earn a place in the main draw, Saville will need to beat world No. 148 Arianne Hartono from the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, world No.201 Taylah Preston caused an upset against a higher-ranked compatriot.

The 18-year-old from Perth posted a 7-5 6-2 opening-round win against world No.120 Olivia Gadecki.

It is Preston’s fifth career win at WTA level and sets up a final qualifying round showdown with world No.158 Ekaterina Makarova.

Kimberly Birrell’s qualifying quest ended with a first-round loss to the in-form Anastasia Zakharova, who recently made the Australian Open third round as a qualifier.

Aussies in action – Hua Hin

Women’s qualifying singles, first round
Taylah Preston (AUS) d [2] Olivia Gadecki (AUS) 7-5 6-2
[8] Daria Saville (AUS) d Amandine Hesse (FRA) 6-3 7-6(4)
Anastasia Zakharova d [1] Kimberly Birrell (AUS) 6-7(4) 6-2 6-4

Women’s singles, first round
Arina Rodionova (AUS) v [6] Yuan Yue (CHN)
[WC] Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) v Qualifier

Women’s qualifying singles, final round
[8] Daria Saville (AUS) v [6] Arianne Hartono (NED)
Taylah Preston (AUS) v [9] Ekaterina Makarova

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