Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell has come from a set down to defeat 31st-seed Kaia Kanepi in the Australian Open first round.
In front of a parochial crowd at KIA Arena, the 24-year-old recovered from a poor first set to win 3-6 7-6(4) 6-1 against last year’s Australian Open quarter-finalist.
Birrell will now play rising Czech teenager Linda Fruhvirtova in the second round, who dismissed Australian wildcard Jaimee Fourlis.
MORE: Australian Open 2023 LIVE: Results, schedule, scores, Aussies on court
After initially being absent from the main draw for the first grand slam of the year, Birrell was given a wildcard after the withdrawal of Venus Williams.
The 167th-ranked Aussie looked like she was in trouble early after dropping the first set, but managed her fight away to a tie-break victory in the second, before blitzing her veteran opponent in the final set.
MORE: Australian Open prize money 2023: How much will the players earn?
Kanepi, 37, reached the last eight of Australian Open 2022 and was only stopped by Iga Swiatek after taking the first set off the gun Pole.
Birrell, who has been cruelled by injuries in the past few years, has enjoyed a deep run at the Australian Open before – reaching the third round.
The Aussie defeated Paula Badosa and 29th seed Donna Vekic before falling to No.2 seed Angelique Kerber at the third hurdle.
She will face a tough test against 17-year-old Fruhvirtova, who thrashed Aussie Fourlis 6-0 6-4.