Chase on for Open wildcards
A SHARE in the record $60 million prizemoney pool is at stake when 32 Australian Open hopefuls start the chase for wildcards into the January grand slam.
Alex Bolt and Arina Rodionova head the 16 men and 16 women jostling for two places in Melbourne Park’s main draw from Monday.
Alex de Minaur and Destanee Aiava claimed wildcards last December, guaranteeing first-round cheques of $50,000 in a tournament offering $55 million. With a $5 million increase next month, it is likely opening-round losers will receive a slightly higher figure.
A finalist last season, SA’s Bolt again faces stiff opposition. He will be challenged by James Duckworth, John-Patrick Smith and emerging talents including Akira Santillan, Maverick Banes, Max Purcell, Blake Ellis and Rinky Hijikata.
Rodionova and Aiava will be pushed by developing players, including Jaimee Fourlis, Zoe Hives, Lizette Cabrera, Ellen Perez and Astra Sharma.
Thanasi Kokkinakis has opted to bypass the playoff, hopeful of earning a discretionary wildcard. Queenslanders Priscilla Hon and Jason Kubler have already been given wildcards.
Australia has 10 players assured of a spot. Alex de Minaur, Nick Kyrgios, John Millman, Matt Ebden, Jordan Thompson and Bernard Tomic are already in the field. Ash Barty, Daria Gavrilova, Ajla Tomljanovic and Sam Stosur lead the women’s charge. ALEX DE MINAUR NICK KYRGIOS JOHN MILLMAN MATTHEW EBDEN JORDAN THOMPSON BERNARD TOMIC ASH BARTY DARIA GAVRILOVA AJLA TOMLJANOVIC SAMANTHA STOSUR
RISING STAR: Alex de Minaur is an important part of Australia’s tennis renaissance.