Lleyton Hewitt-lookalike Dane Sweeny is one win away from a spot in the Australian Open main draw after upsetting Italian Luca Nardi.
Queensland teenager Melisa Ercan, another wildcard entrant, was set to follow Sweeny on to court but her grand slam dreams had already ended.
She was forced to withdraw from her clash with China’s Wei Sinjia after injuring her calf during her first-round match.
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The 18-year-old went against medical advice to play on against Yuriko Miyazaki and secure a heroic victory, the only consolation for her subsequent exit becoming the biggest cheque of her fledgling career.
Ercan will hobble away from Melbourne Park with a $44,100 pay day — more than doubling her previous career earnings.
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The 22-year-old wildcard survived a tough first set and then raced away to secure a 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 victory over the 13th seed in qualifying at Melbourne Park.
Sweeny was the first of a dozen Australians in action on Thursday, with veteran John Millman and world No.1 doubles star Storm Hunter the headline acts.
Fellow Queenslander Sweeny, who is ranked No.257, is hopeful of banking another victory on Friday after he reached the same stage in 2021 but fell at the final hurdle.
“It’d be amazing and I feel like I’m at a spot now where I really think I can do it,” he said after downing the world No.119.
“Not just because I’m in the third round, but I think I’ve proven myself, particularly the end of last year, that I do have the level and capabilities to beat these guys.
“Now it’s a matter of just putting it together, and now I’ve given myself a good chance of being in the third round.”
Dane Sweeny is one win away from the Australian Open main draw. Credit: JOSH CHADWICK/PR IMAGE
Sweeny said people often commented on his uncanny resemblance to former world No.1 Hewitt, and as a kid he idolised the Australian great.
“I’m told it a lot,” he said.
“I would love to be as good as him – I respect the way he played and have idolised him, but I do want to play how Dane Sweeny plays, and I need to focus on bringing my own game style to the court.”
In other early results by the local brigade, Sydneysider Ivana Popovic went down against 11th-seeded Hungarian Anna Bondar 6-4 6-4.
– with 7NEWS