Teenage qualifier Destanee Aiava has booked a spot in the Brisbane International’s second round after completing a stunning upset win over American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Heavy rain forced play to be suspended on Monday night but Aiava returned to finish the job 2-6 6-3 6-4 at the Queensland Tennis Centre on Tuesday.
The 16-year-old from Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs now faces a daunting match-up with Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, a two-time grand slam winner and the tournament’s fifth seed.
But the future looks extremely bright for the powerfully-built and clean-striking Aiava, who appears to have all the tools needed to make it as a professional.
The delay was a huge mental test against an experienced campaigner in the 31-year-old Mattek-Sands, but she passed – albeit not exactly with flying colours.
Resuming 3-0 (40-15) up in the third set, her first serve completely deserted her and some costly double-faults handed all the momentum to her opponent.
But the world No.387 needed only one match point to secure victory and become the first player born this century to win a WTA main draw match, slamming down her fourth ace to wrap up proceedings.
Aiava, who was born to Samoan parents, already has a wildcard entry for the Australian Open and will also play in next week’s Kooyong Classic in Melbourne.
Earlier, world No.6 Karolina Pliskova became the first player to make the tournament’s final eight after a straight-sets win over America’s Asia Muhammad.
Czech Pliskova cruised past qualifier Muhammad with a 6-1 6-4 victory and remains on course to take on Angelique Kerber – her conqueror at last year’s US Open final – in the semi-finals.
She will take on Italy’s Roberta Vinci or Japan’s Misaki Doi in the quarter-finals.