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Barton, O’Connell boost Aussie troupe to five

New South Wales duo Matthew Barton and Chris O’Connell have ensured five Aussie men will take their place in the main draw after coming through qualifying on Sunday.
8 January 2017, by AAP/apiainternational.com.au

Matthew Barton and Chris O’Connell have ensured Australia will have five men to fly the flag at the Apia International after winning their final qualifying matches in Sydney.

Barton, the world No.196, defeated Mathias Bourgue 6-3 6-1 before O’Connell ousted Enrique Lopez-Perez 6-3 7-5.

They join Jordan Thompson, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Alex De Minaur at the Australian Open warm-up event.

> view the men’s singles main draw

The Sydney-born Barton made headlines after progressing to the second round of the 2016 Wimbledon tournament in what was the 25-year-old’s Grand Slam debut.

“It’s pretty special. It’s almost as good as the feeling when I qualified for Wimbledon,” Barton said.

“To do it in Sydney, there’s nothing better than that.

“Same kind of situation to Wimbledon, I was the last player into the qualifying draw so I just made the most of my opportunity and here I am in the main draw.”

For O’Connell, the result was a continuation of his good form in the past 12 months; the 22-year-old sits at a career-high ranking of 237th after winning five ITF Futures titles in 2016.

“It feels awesome (to qualify). I come here most days of the week and to have my family and friends out here watching me, yeah it was a great booster,” he said.

“Obviously it’s a couple of levels up (from the ITF and Challenger level). So it feels awesome. I’m really pumped.

“I always thought I was at this level so to really show it out here today really gives me inner confidence.”