Aussie Olivia Gadecki lives up to hype with big Open win

Olivia Gadecki made short woke of her opponent to power into the US Open field.

Olivia Gadecki made short woke of her opponent to power into the US Open field. Photo: AAP

An overjoyed Olivia Gadecki was almost lost for words after living up to the hype to be the first home hope to advance to the Australian Open second round at Melbourne Park.

The emerging star vindicated her wildcard entry with a rousing 7-5 6-1 victory over teenage qualifier Polina Kudermetova on Monday.

Mentored by retired reigning champion Ash Barty, Gadecki was making her main-draw debut at the Open after missing the entire summer last year after declining to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

That decision came after an unranked Gadecki had burst onto the international stage with a stunning victory over 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin at the 2021 Phillip Island Trophy event at Melbourne Park.

Gadecki backed up that breakthrough win with a rapid rise up the rankings under esteemed coach David Taylor, Samantha Stosur’s long-time former ally and mentor of greats including Martina Hingis and Naomi Osaka.

While fans have had to wait to see Gadecki in action at her home grand slam, the 20-year-old certainly didn’t disappoint after finally making her debut.

She seized the opening set against Kudermetova with the only break of the set, nailing a booming backhand down the line in the 12th game to draw rapturous applause from spectators on Court 8.

The adrenaline surge triggered a run of six straight games won for Gadecki as the young gun powered to her first grand slam triumph in 76 minutes.

“I actually can’t believe it. Wow, I’m speechless,” Gadecki beamed.

“It’s such an amazing crowd, my home slam, my first-ever main-draw grand slam win. I mean, a girl can only dream.”

After passing through the first round, Gadecki is certain to take home a neat $106,250 in prize money.

When a reporter raised that staggering number, Gadecki’s eyes went wide.

While Gadecki said the cash would be a welcome safety net, it wouldn’t change the way she goes about her career.

“It doesn’t really change the way I go about my career. It just gives me a little bit of a safety net, which is really important when it comes to being an athlete,” she said.

“Just having that security and knowing you don’t have to rely on doing well each and every week to be able to find yourself.”

She also spoke of her close relationship with now-retired 2022 champion Ash Barty, who she considers to be her mentor.

“She sent me a text after my match, which really meant a lot. But I’m sure everyone kind of knows she’s always been in my corner, and I’m so lucky to have her,” Gadecki said.

“Whenever I need advice or anything, I’m always able to contact her.”

Gadecki’s reward, after crunching seven aces, 19 winnersand conceding only nine points on serve, is a second-round shot at exciting Ukrainian talent Marta Kostyuk on Wednesday.

Kostyuk, the world No.61, claimed the first seeded scalp of the tournament, eliminating 28th-seeded American Amanda Anisimova 6-3 6-4.

Five other Australians are in action later on day one, including fellow women’s wildcards Storm Hunter and Talia Gibson.

Jason Kubler, John Millman and Rinky Hijikata lead the local charge in the men’s singles on Monday.

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