Qualifying joy for British pair
Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:14
It is the first time four British women have been in the main draw of a grand slam – outside of Wimbledon – since the US Open in 1992.
Baltacha, the 19th seed, overcame top-seeded Croatian Jelena Kostanic Tosic 6-1 6-3 in qualifying to book a first-round match with Anna-Lena Groenefeld. O’Brien did not drop a game in her first set against Betina Jozami, seeded 21. But the Argentinian rallied to take the second set to a tie-break, which O’Brien won 7-2.
Three years ago Baltacha reached the third round in Melbourne before bowing out to 15th seed Silvia Farina Elia 6-1 6-0.
“I’m really, really happy. I’ve had a great three matches. I’m a bit speechless really because I still can’t believe it if I’m honest,” the 25-year-old said.
“I’ve had such great memories here and hopefully I can build on that and really give it a go whoever I’ve got in the opening draw.
“I’ve got nothing to lose now. I’ve qualified and I’ve got the three matches behind me and whoever I get I just need to give it a really good shot and see what I can do.”
Should the British number three progress, she could face 2006 champion Amelie Mauresmo in the second round.
O’Brien’s victory has earned her a first-round date with Romanian Monica Niculescu, ranked 51st in the world.
“It’s an absolutely amazing feeling (to have qualified). I’m still shocked to be honest. I just went out there today and I was so focused. I lost in the last round last year and I was just determined that I was going to do it this year and it feels great.”