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Sanders storms into final-round qualifying

5 January 2020, by

UPDATED: Storm Sanders is the sole Australian woman standing in Brisbane International qualifying, following a three-set triumph over Briton, Heather Watson, on Sunday.

The left-handed 25-year-old further capitalised on her wildcard to see off her former top-40 opponent, 6-2 3-6 6-3, closing to within one win of the main draw.

After a torrid run with injuries in recent years, the Rockhampton-born Sanders reached the final of last month’s Australian Open Wildcard Playoff, in which she fell to Arina Rodionova.

The world No.378 will next meet No.4 seed Jennifer Brady after the American’s resounding 6-2 6-0 victory over compatriot Francesca Di Lorenzo.

The 24-year-old Brady won her only prior encounter with Sanders in an ITF event in El Paso, Texas, 4.5 years ago.

Russian Liudmila Samsonova sprung the upset of the day with a 6-1 6-4 win over No.2 seed and world No.39 Kristina Mladenovic.

Mladenovic rounded out 2019 in style when she guided France to Fed Cup victory over Australia in Perth, where she posted a win over Ashleigh Barty.

The 21-year-old Samsonova must beat 17-year-old Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk to make her main draw debut in Brisbane. Kostyuk prevailed over Slovakian Anna Karolina Shmiedlova 5-7 6-4 6-3 in 96 minutes.

Samsonova was one of three Russians through to the final round of qualifying with No.3 seed Veronika Kudermetova winning an all-Russian encounter 5-7 6-4 6-2 over Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Anastasia Potapova a 2-6 7-5 6-2 winner over Swiss eighth seed Viktorija Golubic.

The 22-year-old Kudermetova – who beat world No.6 Elina Svitolina to reach the Moscow quarter-finals in October – will next take on fifth-seeded Marie Bouzkova.

On Sunday, the Czech backed up her defeat of former champion Kaia Kanepi with a 7-5 6-4 victory over Lizette Cabrera, the only other Australian left in the draw. Cabrera saved a match point at 5-2 down in the second set before succumbing two games later.

The 18-year-old Bouzkova will take on top-seeded Yulia Putintseva for a place in the main draw. The 34th-ranked Kazakh rebounded from a set down to deny American Madison Brengle, 5-7 6-1 6-2.