The slew of upsets on Day 1 of Australian Open qualifying seemed to be carrying over into Day 2 as both the in-form Zheng Qinwen and No.2 seed Martina Trevisan came to the brink of defeat.
However, No.13 seed Zheng battled back from 5-1 down in the second-set tiebreak to escape former semifinalist CoCo Vandeweghe 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-1, and Trevisan fought off a match point to survive Irina Fetecau 5-7, 7-6(10), 6-2 in 3 hours and 9 minutes.
Zheng, who reached her first semifinal in just her fourth WTA main draw last week at Melbourne Summer Set 1, was slow to recapture that form on her Grand Slam qualifying debut. The Chinese 19-year-old committed 13 unforced errors to three winners in the first set, and though she took an early lead in the second, failed to serve it out at 5-4.
When Zheng double faulted to fall 5-1 behind in the tiebreak, a surprise exit loomed. But just in time, she found her forehand to strike a pair of clean winners - and Vandeweghe lost hers, netting a pair on the last two points of the set. The third set was a reverse of the first, with former World No.9 Vandeweghe committing 12 unforced errors to two winners. Zheng finished in style, smacking a clean return winner on her second match point.
Read more: Five things to know about Zheng Qinwen
Former Roland Garros quarterfinalist Trevisan needed all her resilience to pull off a comeback against No.215-ranked Romanian Fetecau, who served for her first Grand Slam qualifying win at 5-4 in the second set.
Going for the lines throughout an epic tiebreak, Trevisan saved a match point at 9-10 and eventually converted her fifth set point after weathering the challenge of the 10-10 point being replayed twice due to erroneous electronic line calls.
Rakhimova, Yuan, Bonaventure maintain strong form
Like Zheng, No.8 seed Kamilla Rakhimova also made a WTA breakthrough last week, reaching her first quarterfinal at Melbourne Summer Set 2. The 20-year-old Russian is seeking a third Grand Slam main draw place, and first at the Australian Open. Her campaign got off to a fine start with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Gabriela Lee, a Romanian left-hander with a rare one-handed backhand.
China's Yuan Yue and Belgium's Ysaline Bonaventure were 2022's first ITF W60 champions last week in Traralgon and Bendigo respectively, and both extended their winning streaks in Melbourne. Yuan came through 7-5, 6-2 over Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove, and the No.162-ranked 23-year-old has now won 16 of her last 17 matches. Meanwhile, Bonaventure needed just 61 minutes to dismiss former World No.20 and No.10 seed Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-2, 6-2.
"A dream for me is to again play on Rod Laver Arena. I'm still very proud of how I managed to win that tournament."— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 11, 2022
🇦🇩 @vjimenezk is looking to run through qualifying to the main draw in her quest to compete at Rod Laver Arena.#AusOpen 🔜 #AO2022
Jimenez Kasintseva, Avanesyan, Preston ride youth wave
Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva, the runner-up to Bonaventure in the Bendigo ITF W60 final, also brought her strong form into the Australian Open - the site of her junior triumph in 2020. The Andorran 16-year-old rose to a career-high of No.202 this week and is the youngest player in the Top 350, and scored a quality win over Anastasia Zakharova 6-3, 6-1 in exactly an hour.
The tenacious Zakharova, 19, quietly became a tough out at WTA level in the second half of 2021: it took established competitors Oceane Dodin and Zarina Diyas three gruelling sets to quell her in Luxembourg and Nur-Sultan respectively. But in Zakharova's first Grand Slam qualifying match, she committed 39 unforced errors to fall to Jimenez Kasintseva, who will now face a popcorn clash with Rakhimova.
Another 19-year-old Russian making her Grand Slam qualifying debut, Elina Avanesyan, was victorious 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3 over Kathinka Von Deichmann. Avanesyan rose from No.720 to No.261 over the course of 2021 after reaching seven ITF World Tour finals (including the Versmold ITF W60 title), and she showed patience and grit to master the Liechtensteiner's web of spins and defence.
Jimenez Kasintseva was not even the youngest player to score a win in this year's qualifying event. That honour went to 16-year-old wildcard Taylah Preston, who is contesting just her third professional tournament and who upset former World No.32 Kurumi Nara 7-5, 6-4 in 1 hour and 31 minutes.
Preston had already turned heads in her WTA qualifying debut at Melbourne Summer Set 1 last week with an upset of Sara Errani. That result had enabled her to enter the WTA rankings at No.1184 this week, and she will receive another boost with the win over Nara.
Jang upsets Errani, Kuzmova ousts Gasanova
Former World No.5 Errani could not turn around her fortunes at the Australian Open. The 2012 quarterfinalist was the highest seed at No.9 to fall on Day 2, losing 6-4, 6-4 to No.212-ranked Jang Su Jeong of South Korea. Jang struck 33 winners to 23 unforced errors to post her first Grand Slam qualifying win since the 2017 US Open, and she will continue her bid for a Grand Slam main-draw debut against Preston.
Former World No.43 Viktoria Kuzmova has fallen to No.158 after an indifferent 2021, but the powerful Slovak showed she could still spring an upset after taking out No.16 seed Anastasia Gasanova 6-2, 6-4 in 1 hour and 21 minutes.
Gasanova had been one of the in-form names in the draw, having scored her own upset to start the year over Elina Svitolina in Adelaide - the Russian's second Top 20 win in as many matches. However, her inconsistency has thus far held the 22-year-old back from breaking through to the Top 100 herself, and against Kuzmova she was undone by 43 unforced errors and eight double faults.