Alison Bai is two wins away from qualifying for the Australian Open in January. Photo: Graham TidyAlison Bai is just two wins away from a dream Australian Open berth after the Canberra tennis star came from behind against Sara Tomic on Thursday.
At the Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs, Bai claimed the first set and looked in control of the match during the second, but the sister of controversial men’s player Bernard Tomic struck back.
Tomic forced a tiebreaker and squared the ledger, then secured an early break in the third.
With her grand slam dream on the line Bai rallied from 3-1 down and peeled off five straight games to take the match 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 and advance to the final four at Melbourne Park.
“Being in a winning position in the second set then losing a tight tiebreaker I had to compose myself and start again. I just went back to my tactics and took it one point at a time,” Bai said.
“One rally can change the match, so I just played percentages and in the heat of the moment you don’t really think about it, but I guess winning five games in a row is pretty good.
“I was definitely a lot better than my first-round match and Sara really stepped it up with aggressive tennis in the second, so I’m just relieved to get the win and be one step closer.”
No.2 seed Bai enters Saturday’s semis the highest-ranked player after top seed Arina Rodionova was upset by Olivia Tjandramulia on Thursday.
“With Arina losing it definitely opens up the draw with only four of us left, but I’m really not looking any further than the next match,” Bai said.
“Everyone here deserves their spot and anything can happen on any day with injuries and weather, so I’m just trying to take it one match at a time.”
The 26-year-old found herself in a similar position last year and admitted it’s difficult not to imagine playing in Melbourne again in the last two weeks of January.
“Absolutely it’s always been a dream [to play in the Australian Open],” Bai said.
“Like any young Australian kid who plays tennis, we want to play at our home grand slam in front of our family and friends, so it’s definitely a huge motivator.”
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