The off season continues to fly by, as the first wild card entrants for January’s Australian Open have been announced.
The male and female winners of the USTA’s Australian Open Wild Card Play-Offs were determined over the weekend.
In the men’s final, Ryan Harrison took out his fellow 18-year-old Jack Sock – who won the US Open Junior title this summer – in a tight four sets: 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-4. After letting three match points slip away in his memorable five-set battle vs. Sergey Stakhovsky in the second round of this year’s US Open, the 173-ranked Harrison says he’s looking forward to another chance to compete in the big leagues
“Absolutely,” said Harrison after being asked if the loss in New York made him want to win Sunday’s match even more. “I know people still remember that match. I want to start creating some better Grand Slam memories and there couldn’t be an easier way to do that than to get into the main draw of the Australian Open.”
Harrison also won last year’s USTA Australian Open Wild-Card Playoff. He then lost in the first round to Janko Tipsarević in straight sets in the main draw at Melbourne Park.
(Lauren Davis via Chagrin Valley Times)
On the women’s side, lesser-known teenager, Lauren Davis, (pictured above) takes the Wild Card prize. The 17-year-old from Gates Mills, Ohio, defeated 19-year-old Southern Californian Coco Vandeweghe, 6-2, 6-2. Davis, currently ranked No. 444 in the world, is enjoying quite a winning streak. She won all three of her matches over the weekend in straight sets and has won 36 of her last 37 matches, including two Futures titles, the Dunlop Junior Orange Bowl and the Eddie Herr Junior Championships. She trains at the Chris Evert Academy in Boca Raton.
The Australians (D-Cup team running above) completed their own play offs at a rainy Melbourne Park this weekend. On the ladies’ side, 19-year-old Olivia Rogowska saved match points on her way to beating Jelena-can’t-catch-a-break-Dokic, 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-3. For the men, 25-year-old Marinko Matosevic (ranked 138) took out veteran and top seed Peter Luczak (ranked 137) in what was described as a “five-set cliffhanger.”
The playoffs Down Under also offered up what may be the first controversy of the new season, as young Bernard “no stranger to controversy” Tomic ruffled Tennis Australia’s feathers by withdrawing from the playoffs due to illness earlier in the week. His excuse was questioned after he was spotted on the practice courts the Tuesday before the playoffs. The Herald Sun surmised that Tomic simply decided not to bother with the competition as he was “confident he would be handed one of Tennis Australia’s discretionary wildcards for next month’s grand slam.”
The article included a little dig from Luczak, who was to play Tomic in the first round:
“You couldn’t have stopped me from playing this,” Luczak said when asked if he would have ever ignored the playoffs. “Twisted ankle or broken leg, I would have been out here trying.
“But you don’t know, he might have been severely ill. You’d have to ask him. (Tomic)”
That’s just what Tennis Australia is doing. Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia’s head of player development, said the body was investigating Tomic’s withdrawal. Via this weekend’s The Australian:
BERNARD Tomic will learn next week the ramifications of the illness that forced him to miss this week’s Australian Open wild-card play-off.
Specifically, whether the illness will hinder his prospects of receiving free entries into events from Brisbane to Melbourne next month.
Ah, yes, things are getting interesting! Tomic news is so touchy, I was threatened with physical violence after I dared question his attitude at last year’s Australian Open. Let’s hope Tennis Australia has 24-hour security.
Oh, before I forget: The French Tennis Federation named Virginie Razzano and “rising star” Benoit Paire as its wild card recipients.