Tomic impresses as women gear up for big test
BERNARD Tomic has led Australia's opening-day Wimbledon qualifying charge, leading Thanasi Kokkinakis, Alex Bolt, Jason Kubler and John-Patrick Smith into the second round.
On the women's side, Jaimee Fourlis, Priscilla Hon, Arina Rodionova and Lizette Cabrera have landed in the middle of Wimbledon's most glittering qualifying field in tournament history.
Competing alongside the Aussie quartet are three grand slam finalists - Vera Zvonareva, Sabine Lisicki and Eugenie Bouchard - and former world No.7 and Australian Open semi-finalist Patty Schnyder.
While 2014 Wimbledon runner and Australian and French Open semi-finalist Bouchard continues to struggle for form, former world No.2 Zvonareva, a Wimbledon and US Open runner-up, continues her comeback after having a baby.
Lisicki, a finalist at the All England Club five years ago, has struggled for full fitness since reaching No 12 in the world while 39-year-old Schnyder is in the throes of an unlikely comeback.
Fourlis plays Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova Bulgaria, Hon opens against Anhelina Kalinina, of the Ukraine, Rodionova faces Romanian Jaqueline Cristian and Cabrera takes on Slovak Jana Cepelova.
Tomic, the former world No.17 was too solid for Italian Matteo Donati, advancing 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 and was quickly followed by South Australian pair Kokkinakis and Bolt and Queenslander duo Kubler and Smith.
Kubler, a former star junior, whipped Belgian Arthur de Greef 6-1 6-2, while Smith outlasted Belarusian Uladzimir Ignatik 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 8-6.
Hampered by a quad strain, Kokkinakis overcame Marcelo Arevalo 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 before Bolt rocked France's Quentin Halys 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-3.
Kokkinakis waited until the last minute before deciding to play after straining his right leg.
"I wasn't sure if I was going to play a couple of days ago," he said.
"I just went point by point and hopefully the body held up. Yeah, it was ugly, but I got there in the end, so I'll take it."
Bolt remains on course for a third-round clash for a place in Wimbledon's main draw after nailing Halys.
"Halys is a very good player. You can't take someone like him lightly with the power and weapons he has," Bolt said.
"I played him last year on the grass in Iikely, so I kind of had a gauge of how it was going to be.
"I'm happy I'm playing good tennis on the grass. I grew up playing in Murray Bridge on the grass courts down on the river, so I've been playing on it since I was five. I feel really comfortable moving and playing on this stuff.
"(There's) the belief and confidence in myself to go out there and execute what I want to do, and with that, everything is sort of coming together and I'm starting to play really good tennis."
Returning to the Bank Of England courts for the first time since 2011, Tomic was simply too classy for Donati.
Tomic's last visit here resulted in miracle run to the main draw and ultimately to quarter-finals - where, at 18, he was the youngest man to reach the last eight since Boris Becker in 1986.
Now ranked outside the top 150, Tomic needs to win two more matches to reach the main draw this year.
"I played well, it was good," Tomic said.
"It's good. Played well here many times before in the main draw - third round, fourth round.
"It's great here."
Tomic's fellow Queenslander Akira Santillan lost 3-6 6-7 (7-9) to Tomislav Brkic in controversial circumstances.
Down a set point at 5-6 in the tiebreak, Brkic had treatment on his left leg for five minutes before resuming.
After restarting, his dropshot was ruled out by the linesman as Santillan landed a forehand winner - just as the chair umpire overruled.
Livid, Santillan lost his composure and the match.
Marc Polmans was denied in a 6-3 4-6 8-6 heartbreaker after holding two match points against German veteran Matthias Bachinger.
Max Purcell fell 6-3 6-2 to former junior champion Donald Young.