MELBOURNE – There were four Canadian men in the draw as the qualifying for next week’s Australian Open began Wednesday at Melbourne Park.
At the end of the day, two were left.
The two defeats were not much of a surprise; both Filip Peliwo and Steven Diez are relative rookies in Grand Slam qualifying – indeed, for Peliwo, it was his first trip here since he lost in the final of the junior boys’ event in 2012.
Diez’s first appearance a year ago, he lost in the second round.
Peliwo was facing a talented lefty from Belgium, Ruben Bemelmans, who has yet to break into the top 100 but should have, on talent, by noe.
Peliwo was outclassed, 6-2, 6-2
As for Diez, he definitely came in on a roll, with his new career-best ranking of 196 after reaching the final of a Challenger event on a hard court in Nouméa last week.
He gave American Rhyne Williams, a better, far more experienced hard-court player, a fight before going down 7-6 (3) 26 64 .
The two more experienced Canadians had better draws, and got the job done.
Frank Dancevic took care of Egor Gerasimov of Belarus 6-2, 6-2, while Peter Polansky bested Mirza Basic of Bosnia 64 76 (10).
Dancevic plays Bobby Reynolds Thursday – and those two have some history.
Reynolds was always Dancevic’s nemesis on the Challenger circuit – and it continued into the big leagues. A couple of days after Dancevic pulled off his big upset against David Nalbandian at Wimbledon in 2008, he got what you’d have to consider a great draw with Reynolds in the second round. And he lost to him.
Meanwhile, the draw was made for the women’s qualifying and Toronto’s Sharon Fichman ended up in the worst seat in the house – the top seed in qualifying.
Being there means you were just one withdrawal away from going straight into the main draw – and you know there is always one main-draw player who waits until the last minute to pull out, which leaves that spot to a lucky loser instead of Fichman.
Worse still, she drew a young, talented opponent in the first round: Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic.
Fichman can get it done, but it’s a tough road. Her counterpart on the men’s side, the popular Dustin Brown, lost to a pretty obscure player Wednesday, as the top qualifying seed. And he’d just had a great opening week to the season.
Stéphanie Dubois is looking to turn around a tough start to the season against Noppawan Lertcheewakarn of Thailand, a good junior but a player who hasn’t broken through on the pro tour yet.
Aleksandra Wozniak, who ended up getting a wild card into the qualifying because she couldn’t get in with either her protected ranking or her actual one, will play No. 12 qualies seed Anna Tatishvili of Georgia.
(Open Court archives photos from the 2011 and 2012 Oz Opens)