The joy of six! Ward and Robson complete strong British line-up at Australian Open
Laura Robson and James Ward claimed impressive qualifying victories to take British representation in the main draws at the Australian Open up to six players – the highest number at an overseas grand slam for 20 years.
Robson beat Olga Savchuk of Ukraine 6-1 7-6 (7/2) and was later rewarded by being drawn to meet Serbian 13th seed Jelena Jankovic in the first round proper.
Ward overcame Dutchman Igor Sijsling 7-6 (7/5) 6-2 and will next meet Slovenian Blaz Kavcic, the world No 104, in a eminently winnable encounter.
Made it: James Ward and Laura Robson reached the Australian Open proper
The pair join Andy Murray, Elena Baltacha, Heather Watson and Anne Keothavong in competing in the main draws – Britain's best result outside Wimbledon, where wild cards swell the home contingent, since the 1992 Australian Open.
Robson, who also made it into the main draw at the US Open last year, said: 'It's the second time I have done it (come through qualifying) which is very good.
'And the last two grand slams I have played I have won the first round in the main draw and I hope I can do that again here.'
It represents a remarkable return to form and fitness after the 17-year-old spent two weeks in November on crutches after the early signs of a stress fracture of the left shin were discovered.
The world No 133 added: 'When I first heard about the injury I didn't even know if I would be able to play here so for me to qualify has been really good.
Flat out: Robson will now face Jelena Jankovic in the first round
'I came into the tournament with no expectations as I had only been playing points in practice five days before my first match so I am very happy with how I am playing and hopefully my form will continue to get better throughout the tournament.'
For Ward, ranked 161st in the world, the achievement is arguably even greater. The 24-year-old has never before played a grand slam event away from the lawns of SW19 and he was delighted to emerge from a tough qualifying campaign.
He said: 'It's a pleasing day for me. I had a couple of tough matches, a couple of long three-setters, so to play well today was great.
'Every time you go out there you believe you are going to win but it doesn't happen every week, there are a lot of good players out there.
Maiden: Ward has reached the first round for the first time in his career
'It's nice to do it here as well as it hasn't been my best slam over the years. I have always lost to players who have been in the top 100 before and just dropped outside, Paul Capdeville last year and Illya Marchenko the year before.
'But now I have done it who knows what could happen the rest of the year.'
As for the boon for British tennis, Ward added: 'It's always nice, everyone is concentrating on their own things but it's good to have more numbers.
'Obviously watching Andy and what he does and the success he is having it makes you realise what level you have to get to.
'It would be good to get in the top 100 and get on tour but it's only one tournament. We will see what happens.'