by Anna Harrington, AAP Melbourne
There will be eight locals in the Australian Open women’s main draw after no Australians made it through via the qualifiers.
Kimberly Birrell was the only Australian woman to reach the third and final round of qualifying but on Friday lost to England’s 11th seed Harriet Dart 6-3 6-3.
The qualifiers were only Birrell’s second tournament since February 2021 following an elbow injury.
The 23-year-old had turned in two promising performances in her earlier matches but against Dart was left to rue errors and missed opportunities on break points.
The first set was plagued by broken service games: Dart broke Birrell four times while the Australian broke the Englishwoman’s serve twice.
Birrell was unable to make the most of her chances in the second set.
Dart fought off two break points in a 16-minute opening game, but saw Birrell snatch a break in the third game.
The Australian’s joy was short-lived as Dart immediately broke back.
The pair traded breaks once more before Dart held her nerve to close out the match.
On Friday afternoon, veteran Matt Ebden will attempt to become the 11th local in the men’s draw.
Ebden, eyeing his ninth singles main draw appearance, is the only Australian left in the men’s qualifiers and will face Slovakia’s Norbert Gombos.