Melbourne: Alicia Molik and Casey Dellacqua made winning starts on Monday in the quest for wild card entry into next month’s Australian Open, with Molik punishing the teenage daughter of a former coach of Mark Philippousssis.
The 28—year—old Molik, starting her second life in the game after retiring but changing her mind last summer and grinding her way back in tennis, won her first match at the wild card play—offs which will yield a free entry to the event winner into the Australian Open from January 17.
Molik, a former number eight now ranked 228, defeated 18—year—old Jade Hopper, 6—16—2 a fortnight after beating the teenager in Bendigo at a minor Australian event. Hopper is the daughter of former coach Gavin Hopper, who led Philippoussis among others.
“I really didn’t know what to expect so I was just enjoying being out there and being competitive and to come up with a win is always good,” Molik told local media.
The 16—draw men’s and women’s tournament will yield an Australian Open main draw spot to eventual champions.
Joining Molik with success was injury plagued Casey Dellacqua, who upset top seed Olivia Rogowska 7—6 (12—10) 6—0.
Dellacqua has been sidelined for almost a year after shoulder surgery in February and then tendinitis in her foot. The 24—year—old from Perth charmed her nation in 2008 by reaching the Melbourne fourth round.
Fifteen—year—old unknown Viktorija Rajicic caused the biggest upset of the day, overcoming experienced campaigner Shannon Golds 6— 3, 3—6, 7—6 (7—2) while last year’s winner Monika Wejnert also took a victory.
In the men’s draw, number 285 US Open junior champion Bernard Tomic overpowered USA college NCAA champion John—Patrick Smith 6—3 6— 2.