Melbourne: Kimberly Birrell created history at Australian Open 2022, winning the first competitive match ever played at Kia Arena. And her return to that court this year, proved even sweeter.
The 24-year-old Aussie wildcard recorded a hard-fought 3-6 7-6(4) 6-1 victory against No.31 seed Kaia Kanepi in an opening-round singles showdown at Kia Arena today.
It is Birrell’s first Grand Slam main-draw win in four years and her fourth career top-50 victory.Kanepi served for the match leading 6-3 5-4, but Birrell managed to fight her way back into the contest.
After securing a high-pressure second-set tiebreak, Birrell won 16 of the first 19 points in the deciding set to race to a 4-0 lead.
From there, the Gold Coast athlete closed out one of the biggest – and emotional – wins of her career after two hours and 32 minutes on court.
Birrell now faces Czech teen sensation Linda Fruhvirtova, who recorded a 6-0 6-4 win against Australia’s Jaimee Fourlis today.
The 17-year-old Fruhvirtova is currently ranked No.82 and is the youngest player inside the world’s top 100.