DUBAI, U.A.E. -- The final round of qualifying for the 2021 Australian Open is all set, as 32 women won their second-round matches on Tuesday to move one step closer to the main draw of the year's first Grand Slam event.
The remaining players will pair off and battle on Wednesday in final-round clashes for the 16 coveted opportunities to travel to Melbourne and compete in the major event.
Among Tuesday's second-round winners was Tsvetana Pironkova, who charged back to Grand Slam success when she reached the 2020 US Open quarterfinals in her first tournament of any kind in over three years. The Bulgarian, seeded No.21 this week, was pushed to three sets by Han Na-lae of South Korea before eventually prevailing, 6-0, 3-6, 6-1.
It took two hours and ten minutes for the former Wimbledon semifinalist to notch the win, with Han striking back to take the second set after being bageled in a 28-minute opener. Pironkova recovered in the decider, winning over 60 percent of Han's first-service points during that set to collect the victory.
Pironkova will now face former Top 50 player Margarita Gasparyan of Russia on Wednesday for a spot in the main draw. No.14 seed Gasparyan, who reached the fourth round of the Australian Open in 2016, defeated Mariam Bolkvadze of Georgia, 6-3, 7-6(3) in her second-round match.
No.1 seed Kaja Juvan and No.3 seed Greet Minnen also continued their paths through the draw with second-round wins. Juvan, of Slovenia, ousted Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina, 6-2, 6-4, and the top seed will now face Rebecca Sramkova of Slovakia in the final qualifying round.
Belgium's Minnen defeated Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay, 7-5, 6-3, setting up an intriguing final-round match against former Top 20 player Varvara Lepchenko of the United States.
No.7 seed Timea Babos of Hungary also won her second-round match on Tuesday, outlasting France's Tessah Andrianjafitrimo, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2. Babos will take on No.20 seed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia in the final qualifying round, in a battle of former Top 30 singles players.
Schmiedlova beat Chihiro Muramatsu of Japan 6-4, 6-3 on Tuesday. "It’s never easy to play in qualification or to play against all of these good players," Schmiedlova said, after her win. "I’m really, really happy that I won, and even the first match was extremely difficult for me."
"I really like Australia, I really want to go there, and definitely I would be more than happy to be on the plane to Australia," concluded Schmiedlova, who beat Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka back-to-back at last year's Roland Garros.
Two former Grand Slam finalists had mixed results in their second-round matches on Tuesday. 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard of Canada was defeated by Yuan Yue of China, 6-2, 6-4. But 2012 Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani of Italy overcame Spain's Georgina Garcia Perez, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
"It was a really tough match," Errani said, after her victory. "I knew it [would be] before, because the courts are quite fast, so it’s not easy for me."
"I started the first set a bit too nervous, and I couldn’t play my best game," the former World No.5 continued. "The third set was a fight, and it was good for me."
Errani will now face another former Top 20 player, Ana Konjuh of Croatia, in Wednesday's final round. Konjuh, who is coming back from injury struggles, defeated Turkey's Cagla Buyukakcay, 6-4, 6-2 on Tuesday, to queue up the clash.
"I want to go to Australia, so it’s a big match!" Errani said with a smile, looking forward to her last hurdle. "I will try to be at my best."
Also moving into the final round were former Top 20 player Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania, who overcame Claire Liu of the United States, 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-4, and former Top 25 player Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine, who knocked out Dutchwoman Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove, 6-3, 6-2.
Two Top 10 seeds fell in Tuesday's second round. No.6 seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia lost to France's Clara Burel, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, and No.9 seed Katarina Zavatska of Ukraine fell to Ankita Raina of India, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.
No.12 seed Caty McNally of the United States was also upset on Tuesday, losing to France's Harmony Tan, 6-1, 6-4.
No.16 seed Mayar Sherif of Egypt, though, picked up another win to reach the final round, getting past American Grace Min, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1. Sherif will battle former Top 50 player Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia for a main-draw slot on Wednesday.