'Ash effect' boosts Aussies at Wimbledon
Priscilla Hon has praised the 'Ash Barty effect' for helping drive the Australians' powerful performance at Wimbledon qualifying.
Five Australian women were set for their very own 'finals', aiming for the last-round qualifying victories on Thursday that would transport them into the main draw of the world's biggest tournament.
Of the 11 Australians who set out in the women's draw, Hon, Astra Sharma, Zoe Hives, Jaimee Fourlis and Maddison Inglis proved the survivors after both Storm Sanders and Lizette Cabrera departed in the second round at Roehampton, just five miles up the road from the All England Club.
At least one Australian is guaranteed to join Ajla Tomljanovic and Daria Saville in the women's main draw, with Hon and Hives to clash in a winner-takes-all showdown, both dreaming of playing their maiden Wimbledon.
For the 25-year-old Hives, who's ranked as low as 572 in the world, it would be a fairytale to be playing on Monday after she's battled against chronic fatigue to resurrect her career.
She booked her all-Australian date after beating American Sachia Vickery 6-0 6-3, but should start the underdog against Hon, who's taken inspiration from reigning Wimbledon champion Barty, who stunned the sport with her shock retirement in March.
"When Ash was training, I saw her every day. Just seeing what she does helps you think anything is achievable," Barty's fellow Queenslander and former Fed Cup teammate Hon told wimbledon.com after a notable 6-2 6-4 win over the No.1 qualifying seed, American Katie Volynets.
"She was very detailed with everything she did. That's one thing I really loved about her. Every session she was always 100 per cent there.
"We have a lot of girls in qualifying and hopefully we can change it around and turn it into the men's, where most of our players are in the main draw, and not in qualifying. Hopefully in the next year or two we will start to see this.
"Obviously Ash led the way. It was very emotional actually seeing her win Wimbledon. I don't really get emotional but there were definitely a lot of feels."
Inglis, the Aussie No.3 women's player, knocked out Luxembourg veteran Mandy Minella 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-2 while Sharma, the national No.4, battled to a 6-3 4-6 6-3 triumph over Spain's Irene Burillo Escorihuela.
Three Australian men were also featuring in final-round qualifying on Thursday, with Jason Kubler and Max Purcell nabbing cherished spots in Friday's draw.
Kubler, one of the country's most successful players in recent weeks after being the last Aussie standing at the French Open, advanced with a 6-3 6-2 6-4 win over Swede Elias Ymer.
Purcell sealed his maiden main-draw berth at The All England Club with a 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 7-6 (7-5) victory over Portugal's Nuno Borges.
Rinky Hijikata was up against German Nicola Kuhn in his bid to also qualify for the first time.
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