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Francesca Jones overcomes the odds to reach Australian Open main draw

Francesca Jones, from Bradford, was born with a congenital condition that means she only has three fingers and a thumb on each hand, three toes on one foot and four toes on the other but she has not let that stand in the way of her burgeoning tennis career

Francesca Jones in action on day seven of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Image: Francesca Jones has overcome the odds to qualify for the Australian Open

Britain's Francesca Jones has overcome the odds to qualify for the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time.

The 20-year-old suffers from ectrodactyly ectodermal dysplasia syndrome which is a rare genetic condition which often affects the fingers and toes and often requires adaptive surgery.

But Jones has proven her doubters wrong. She won her first Slam qualifying match on Monday and has now reached her first major tournament with a stunning 6-0 6-1 victory over China's Lu Jia-jing.

"The way I see it is that I am just playing the game with a different set of cards. But it doesn't mean those cards still can't win the game," Jones told BBC's Russell Fuller from Dubai prior to Australian Open qualifying.

"Doctors said I would never become a professional. When someone does say to you at eight, nine years old that you can't do something, I suppose most people would be heartbroken, but I just tried to take it on the chin and see how I could prove that person wrong.

"And also prove to myself that I could do what I wanted to, and encourage others to do so too, because I think there are so many children that are limited by what others say."

Jones, who was accepted into the famed Sanchez Casal Academy in Barcelona at the age of just 10, is the only one of Britain's five entrants to make it past the opening round of the qualifying events, which are being played in Dubai and Doha to limit the number of players travelling to Australia.

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The British No 5 broke with her first opportunity of the match, and continued in the same fashion before taking the first set without dropping a game.

It was on her serve that Jones found dominance, winning 90 per cent of points when she landed her first serve, and Lu was unable to fight back.

Jones went into the game ranked 241 in the women's singles and having never featured in a Grand Slam, with Lu ranked 40 places ahead of her and with significantly more experience.

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