Wildcard Ro­gowska re­turns to Aussie Open main draw


OLIVIA Ro­gowska has been re­warded for a string of strong per­for­mances with a wildcard into Jan­uary’s Aus­tralian Open.

Ro­gowska, 186th in the world, earned the in­vi­ta­tion to the Grand Slam by win­ning Can­berra and reach­ing the Bendigo semi-fi­nals.

“It’s in­cred­i­ble to get this op­por­tu­nity. When I was com­pet­ing I wasn’t re­ally think­ing about the wildcard - I knew that the chance was there, but I re­ally just wanted to try and fo­cus on my­self, fight re­ally hard and be­come a bet­ter ten­nis player,” Ro­gowska said.

“I re­ally wanted to make sure I was be­ing as pos­i­tive as pos­si­ble, fight as hard as I could and not dwell too much on re­sults.

“With that kind of men­tal mind­set I think I played my­self into some re­ally good form and now I’m just feel­ing re­ally con­fi­dent. My self-be­lief is re­ally high at the mo­ment, it’s been a re­ally great cou­ple of months, I’m over the moon.

“It’s al­ready been an amaz­ing cou­ple of months - get­ting the wildcard is a great re­ward for all my hard work and know­ing that I’m go­ing to be in the Aus­tralian Open main draw is just in­cred­i­ble.

“I’ve learnt a lot and I’m go­ing to take ev­ery­thing I can and bring that into Jan­uary. I can’t wait.”

Ro­gowska won the ti­tles in Pen­rith and Cairns in Septem­ber, rack­ing up 22 vic­to­ries in 22 matches and im­prov­ing her rank­ing nearly 100 places.

Kim­berly Bir­rell has been given a qual­i­fy­ing wildcard.

The 19-year-old missed much of 2016 be­cause of el­bow surgery but re­turned to win Bris­bane and ad­vanced to the Pen­rith semis.

“Earn­ing a wildcard was a big goal of mine for the Pro Tour,” she said.

“But I was try­ing not to think about it too much when I was play­ing and just wanted to fo­cus on one match at a time, get­ting my rank­ing up and try­ing to get as many matches as pos­si­ble un­der my belt.

“I haven’t had much time to think about my goals for the Aus­tralian Open, it hasn’t re­ally sunk in that I’ll be play­ing.

“Hope­fully I can make the most of this op­por­tu­nity and qual­ify for the main draw.”

Ten­nis Aus­tralia still has sev­eral wild­cards to dis­trib­ute ei­ther side of the wildcard play­offs next month.

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