Victoria’s Omar Jasika has sealed an emotional return to the Australian Open main draw seven years after his last appearance, while Queenslander Dane Sweeny has also qualified for his grand slam debut.
But the first three of five Australian women in the final round of qualifying fell on the wrong side of the ledger.
Priscilla Hon and Maya Joint were both defeated in three sets while Destanee Aiava suffered a late collapse to be beaten despite winning the first set.
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Storm Hunter, world No.1 in doubles, bucked the trend with a win to secure her singles berth before Maddison Inglis battled to qualify on Friday afternoon.
Jasika, who received a qualifying wildcard from Tennis Australia, secured his place in the main draw — and a guaranteed $120,000 pay day — with a 6-1 1-6 6-2 win over Jordan’s Abedallah Shelbayh on Court 16.
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The victory caps off a monumental comeback from being out of the sport in 2018 when he was suspended following a positive test for cocaine.
His return was aborted by COVID-19 and it wasn’t until the beginning of 2022 that Jasika decided to have another crack at the professional ranks.
Titles on the third tier of men’s tennis followed while a step up to the ATP Challenger tour last year followed.
Now, nearly a decade on from reaching the second round of the Australian Open on debut in 2016 before a first-round loss in 2017, Jasika will be back on the big stage.
The world No.341 and former US Open junior champion is hoping to make the most of his chance.
“I’ve grown up and matured a lot and I’m so happy to be back here,” the 26-year-old said after his first qualifying win this week.
“It’s always great to be back playing in front of friends and family who helped me so much over the last few years.”
Omar Jasika at an ATP tournament in 2023. Credit: VCG/VCG via Getty Images
Elsewhere at Melbourne Park on Friday, Sweeny was in a tough battle with world No.130 Zizou Bergs when the Belgian suffered cramping in the second set.
Bergs battled on but retired with Sweeny moving ahead 5-7 7-5 2-0 and easing towards victory.
Sweeny primarily plays on the second-tier ATP Challenger tour but has shown his talent by qualifying for the top-level Shanghai Masters and now the Australian Open in the space of three months.
Jasika and Sweeny qualifying for the main draw means there will be an astonishing 14 Australians competing in men’s singles, the most since 1998.
Hunter increased Australia’s overall singles tally to 20 when she bounced back from losing the first set against Dominika Salkova to win 3-6 6-3 6-4.