Former top 10 resident Ernests Gulbis got a step closer to the Brisbane International main draw on Saturday, winning his opening match in the qualifying event as the top seed.
Five of the eight seeds in the men’s event moved within a victory of the coveted four qualifier positions. 2012 women’s champion Kaia Kanepi wasn’t as fortunate, retiring in the second set against Kateryna Bondarenko trailing 5-7, 2-2.
Gulbis, the world No.81, beat Martius Copil 6-4, 6-2 and meets Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka for a spot in the main draw.
It was a day of mixed results for the Australian contingent, with Omar Jasika and Matt Reid going down. But Oliver Anderson, a 17-year-old wild card from Brisbane, was a surprise winner, upsetting No.8 seed American Dennis Novikov 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. He takes on another American, Tim Smyczek, with the winner advancing to the main draw.
Another Queensland teenager, Kimberly Birrell wasn’t as lucky, falling in straight sets to American Samantha Crawford.
Sunday marks the final day of qualifying, with four spots up for grabs in both the men’s and women’s draws. Victoria Azarenka and Sam Stosur await qualifiers in round one, as do local hopes Ben Mitchell and Priscilla Hon.