Aussie youngster Olivia Gadecki has produced a stunning victory in her grand slam debut at the Australian Open, beating Polina Kudermetova of Russia on Monday. Gadecki, who is being mentored by retired Aussie champion Ash Barty, stormed into the second round with a dominant 7-5 6-1 victory.
"I actually can't believe it. I'm speechless," Gadecki said after sealing the win.
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The 20-year-old seized the opening set against Kudermetova with the only break, nailing a big backhand down the line to spark rapturous applause from spectators on Court 8. The Aussie then reeled off a run of six-straight games as she powered to victory in 76 minutes.
Gadecki will now face exciting Ukrainian talent Marta Kostyuk on Wednesday after she beat 28th seed Amanda Anisimova. Gadecki has also secured a life-changing payday of $158,850 for making the second round.
The match was Gadecki's first at grand slam level and came 12 months after originally planned. She was supposed to debut at the Australian Open last year but was unable to play after opting against getting the Covid-19 vaccine.
"I knew what my decision entailed and just focused on doing the best I could with what I've got and just tried to play the rest of the year," she said last month. "Last year was a bit tough with injuries. I've been struggling a little bit for the last five or six months.
"I did my ankle and left hand but it's a long journey and one year (of disruptions) is not going to make a massive difference. I'm looking at the positives. I'm fortunate enough to be given the opportunity of playing main-draw Australian Open, which has been a dream of mine from a very young age.
"I know I can play at a top level but I'm just looking at all the little things I have to do well to get there. I'm just looking to enjoy the experience and hopefully get a couple of matches under my belt."
Gadecki has been receiving some tips from fellow Queenslander Barty for a number of years, with the pair often spotted on the practice court together on the Gold Coast. Gadecki recently revealed that Barty will be in her camp at the Australian Open.
"I've been really fortunate to always be able to contact her if I have any questions or if I need advice, she's always been there for me," Gadecki said of Barty during the United Cup. "The best part is she just treats me like a normal person and we can relate in that regard and off court is just as important as on court."
Tennis fans in frenzy over Olivia Gadecki victory
Gadecki's victory comes as a huge boon for the Aussie women's contingent lacking some serious star power. Barty retired after winning the Australian Open in 2022, while top-ranked Aussie female Ajla Tomljanovic was forced to withdraw due to injury.
Daria Saville was ruled out in September after suffering a serious knee injury, leaving Gadecki, Storm Hunter, Jaimee Fourlis and Talia Gibson as Australia's other main draw entries. Kimberly Birrell was granted a late wildcard following the withdrawal of Venus Williams due to injury.
"There's a lot of young players who aren't in the draw, they're not at that point," tournament boss Craig Tiley told reporters on Friday. "But in both the women's and men's side, I think, we're in good shape as far as the future goes.
"We had a lot more players to choose from and had to make careful decisions with wildcards which we didn't have to do because there weren't a lot of players."
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