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2005 Jan 15 - Aus Open: Baltacha qualifies

Elena Baltacha defeated American Teryn Ashley 6-3 6-3 in the Australian Open qualifiers to claim a place in the main draw proper.

With only 12 places up for grabs and a 128 strong field it was always going to be a difficult task but the British star made light work of the opposition as she won all three of her qualification matches, which included the defeat of Lleyton Hewitt's sister Jaslyn 6-2 6-0.

After the match Elena said:

"I am so excited to qualify for a Grand Slam not on grass. I can't believe it.

"I do not mind who I play in the first round, I am just so delighted to be here and to have won three tough matches."

Elena is no stranger to Grand Slam tennis having been granted wildcard entries to Wimbledon and also to the Australian Open in 2003 but this one means more than all the others:

"I think this satisfies me more because I have done it myself.

"Wimbledon is very special but this gives me greater satisfaction because I have had to earn it."

In the first round Elena has been drawn against Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia.

Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski will be the only British men in the main draw as both Arvind Parmar and Alex Bogdanovic crashed in tight 3 set matches during the qualifiers.

Arvind was defeated 4-6 7-6 8-6 by Austrian Daniel Koellerer while Alex was humbled 7-6 3-6 6-1 by Croatian Roko Karanusic.

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