Melbourne, Australia – Five-time Vanderbilt All-American Astra Sharma defeated fellow Australian Priscilla Hon in the opening round of the Australian Open, marking her spot in the singles Round of 64.
This year’s Open marks the 23-year old Perth native’s second time competing in the tournament. However, this is the first year Sharma has qualified in singles play. Last year, Sharma competed in doubles play with Belinda Woolcack, falling in the first round.
Starting in the opening singles round of qualifying, Sharma, ranked No. 230 in the world faced former No. 2-ranked Vera Zvonareva. The Russia native entered the match as the top seed in the Women’s Qualifying draw.
Earning the upset against Zvonareva, Sharma defeated the 34-year old in a straight-set win (6-3, 6-2), advancing Sharma to the second round of the qualifying draw.
In the second round, Sharma battled against Russia’s Varvara Flink and fell short in the first set, 6-7. Regaining momentum in the second set, Sharma came back to cap the match over Flink, winning 6-2, 6-4 in the second and third sets, respectively.
With her hopes set on earning a spot in the main draw of the Australian Open, Sharma took the court to compete in the final qualifying round against fellow 23-year old Irnina Khromacheva. The former Commodore fell 5-7 in the first set, but ultimately landed a spot in the main draw of the Australian Open, defeating Khromacheva in a thrilling third set tiebreak where Sharma won 12-10.
In her Australian Open debut, Sharma defeated the 20-year old Hon to secure her spot in the second round of the Open, winning 7-5, 4-6, 6-1.
“I thought her match with Priscella Hon was very high-level. Here is what I marvel at; you’re in your first Grand Slam, the place is packed, you’re on television and you just handle it, you just embrace it. Wow, now that’s special,” said Vanderbilt head coach Geoff Macdonald. “Astra is a testament that you can come to college and develop into a world-class player. It’s great for college tennis, for us here at Vanderbilt, and we are beyond proud of her. I know Commodore Nation is looking forward to watching her perform tonight.”
In tonight’s matchup Sharma faces No. 41-ranked Greece native Maria Sakkari for a shot at advancing to the singles Round of 32.
Matches start at 6 p.m. CT with Sharma competing on Court 3 following the conclusion of the first men’s singles match of the day.
Live streaming is available on ESPN+ and live results can be found on the Australian Open website.
Graduating from Vanderbilt shy of one year ago, Sharma is one of the top student-athletes to come out of the university. Contributing to the program’s first NCAA title in 2015, her first season as a Dore, Sharma’s success didn’t slow down heading into the rest of her Commodore career.
In her time as a Commodore, Sharma helped lead her team to earn both the SEC regular season and tournament titles in back-to-back seasons, earning the title of SEC Player of the Year in 2017.
Sharma maintained the successful run in her senior year, becoming the NCAA Championship MVP and the tournament’s top singles player, closing her time at Vanderbilt dropping only one NCAA singles match.
Macdonald is beyond proud of his former student-athlete and the player she has developed into today.
“We are all so proud of what Astra has done. She was at Vanderbilt for four and a half years; redshirting her first year, coming into Vanderbilt with the ambition to become a professional tennis player, and I could see it in her,” Macdonald said. “I could see that she had so many of the qualities that you need to become a world-class player. Not even just her talent as an athlete, but her attitude, her spirit, her competitiveness, her willingness to work and learn, her resiliency … She’s just extraordinary.”
Regarding her time in the professional ranks, Macdonald said, “I am really impressed of what Astra has done since she’s been out of college. In seven months, she’s gone from being ranked around 700 in the world to now 158 going into tonight’s match, with a chance to climb even higher. It’s amazing.”