Sara Tomic has set her sights on a big 2017 after advancing to the final eight of the Australian Open playoffs.
Tomic took a 4-0 lead over Perth’s Maddison Inglis in the opening set of their match on Tuesday at Melbourne Park before Inglis was forced to retire with a stomach bug.
The 18-year-old younger sister of Bernard Tomic will go on to face second-seeded Alison Bai, who claimed a 6-3 6-4 win over Angelique Svinos.
The final eight will compete for a sole berth in the main draw for January’s Australian Open.
With a senior grand slam singles debut at stake, Tomic said she was feeling fitter and stronger than ever and would look to compete as often as possible in 2017 after focusing this year more on training.
“I definitely think I need to play more tournaments,” she said.
“This year, I didn’t play as much as last year. I was only away for three months and I was more focused on training and trying to get fitter and stronger, which I have.
“Sometimes, you have to get down to get up. Hopefully, I can play more tournaments next year and get the ranking up.”
Tomic, who won her first professional tournament in Egypt last year, hopes she can break from the shadow of her controversial older brother, who remains a source of support.
“It has its ups and downs,” she said.
“If anything, it makes me want it more because for me, having Bernard as my brother, I want to be better than him.
“I’m trying to make my name. I don’t want to be known just for being Bernard’s sister.”
Top seed Arina Rodionova made short work of her opening-round clash, beating fellow Victorian Belinda Woolcock 6-1 6-0.
Rodionova, Australia’s third highest-ranked woman, is hoping to make her third Australian Open after being knocked out in the opening round in 2011 and 2015.
In the second round on Thursday, she will play Olivia Tjandramulia, who defeated Ellen Perez 6-2 6-1.
The hot and windy conditions at Melbourne Park made for one-sided contests, with Abbie Myers’ win over Tammi Patterson the only match to go to three sets.
Myers squandered six match points and lost a second set tiebreaker with a double fault before finally regaining her composure, winning 6-2 6-7 (7-9) 8-6.
A cool change is forecast for Wednesday, when the men’s tournament continues.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN WILDCARD PLAYOFF RESULTS – DAY ONE
1-Arina Rodionova def Belinda Woolcock 6-1 6-0
2-Alison Bai def Angelique Svinos 6-3 6-4
3-Jaimee Fourlis def Viktorija Rajicic 6-3 6-4
4-Nakitha Bains def Michaela Haet 6-1 6-3
Abbie Myers def 5-Tammie Patterson 6-2 6-7 (7-9) 8-6
6-Olivia Tjandramulia def Ellen Perez 6-2 6-1
7-Sara Tomic def Maddison Inglis 4-0 (ret)
Kaylah McPhee def 8-Priscilla Hon 6-4 6-4