Brit Jones just one win away from qualifying for Australian Open

Britain’s Francesca Jones just one win away from qualifying for Australian Open after impressive victory over Jana Fett in Dubai

  • Jones is playing in her maiden overseas Grand Slam qualifying draw
  • The 20-year-old will play China’s Lu Jiajing for a place in the Australian Open
  • Cam Norrie through to semi-finals of the ATP season-opening event in Florida

Aged eight Francesca Jones was told by a Doctor that her unusual physical condition meant she could forget any ideas about pursuing her tennis dream.

Yet this morning the 20 year-old from Yorkshire needs to win just one more match to qualify for the Australian Open, after claiming her second victory over a former top 100 player in two days.

On Tuesday she overcame Croatian Jana Fett 7-6, 2-6, 6-1 in the preliminary event, being held in Dubai this year to restrict the numbers flying on to Melbourne for next month’s delayed Grand Slam tournament.

Britain’s Francesca Jones is through to the final round of Australian Open qualifying

Jones has already achieved remarkable things to reach a world ranking of 241, considering she that she had only three fingers on each hand and his missing three toes from her feet.

It is a result of being born with Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia Syndrome, a genetic condition which meant she went through a series of operations during childhood.

A win against experienced Chinese player Jia-Jing Lu would see her name go in the main draw next month with the likes of Serena Williams a potential opponent. She would be allowed to fly straight to Melbourne to serve a quarantine period, which she likened to appearing on reality TV.

‘It’s kind of cool. Like in the X Factor, you move onto the next stage, that’s how it feels,’ she said. ‘Simon Cowell tells you that you are through and you are on a flight to the live show. That’s how I see it at the moment and it would be great to go to Australia, but my feet are very much on the ground. I am playing a good player and that’s all I am focused on.’

British No 3 Cam Norrie is through to semi-finals of the ATP season-opening event in Florida

The final qualifying round is one of the most nerve-shredding matches in tennis as the big time beckons, but it is just one more challenge for Jones, who is from Bradford but now trains in Barcelona.

‘I’ve had experiences that many haven’t at my age, and I think that’s moulded me into the person I am today,’ she said.

‘ It will have had an impact on my mental strength and my mentality and mindset as a whole, but I am sure everyone goes through hardship and deals with adversity in their own way. Everyone’s story makes a person who they are.’

Proving the specialist wrong has proved a powerful driving force through her development, which has seen her play in the Wimbledon juniors and win five professional events on the lowest rungs of the pro tour.

‘His comments played a massive part in my life decisions and career commitments to date. I’ve always wanted to make my parents proud more than anything.’

Jones is a feisty baseliner with a solid all round game who continually urges herself on. With an unusually small right hand she has needed wrist surgery already and sometimes suffers problems with her fingernails, through having to hold the racket extra tight.

She is ready, at short notice, to get on the charter flights being laid on to take players to Australia this week.

‘Everything about our current situation globally is weird and unpredictable, and we have to adapt. Today it was quite obvious that I was nervous in the first set and obvious my opponent was nervous as well. I know that I have the mental strength and I try to use it to the best of my advantage but there is a lot that needs to come together.’

British men’s No 3 Cam Norrie faces Sebastian Korda in the semi-final of the ATP season-opening event in Delray Beach Florida, after knocking out American Frances Tiafoe 6-0, 3-6, 6-4.

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