Six local players received an early Christmas present from Tennis Australia, in the form of a wildcard for the Australian Open in February.
Wilds mean players gain direct entry into the main draw, avoiding the need to go through qualifying tournaments that will be held overseas.
The men’s qualifying tournament will be played in Doha, while the women’s event will be held in Dubai.
TA has now secured a spot in the men’s main draw for Christopher O’Connell and Marc Polmans, while Daria Garilova, Astra Sharma, Maddison Inglis and Lizette Cabrera have been added to the women’s draw.
“Although 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year, we are proud of the strength and resilience this group of players have shown during this difficult time,” said Craig Tiley, Australian Open tournament director. .
“Chris, Marc, Dasha, Astra, Maddy and Lizette have all inspired us with their efforts on and off the pitch, here at home and in unprecedented conditions abroad. We are delighted to give them the opportunity to participate in the 2021 Australian Open.
“Grand Slam tournaments are the pinnacle of our sport and the chance to play at home is an experience we know these deserving players will treasure,” Tiley continued.
O’Connell, who took 17th seed Andrey Rublev to four sets at Melbourne Park earlier this year, was delighted with the news that he would play in his third Australian Open.
“I was super motivated to take the call. I was lucky enough to receive a wildcard last year and it was an amazing experience,” said O’Connell.
“I am extremely excited to play in another Australian Open and face some of the best players in the world.”
Gavrilova, who made the fourth round in Melbourne in 2016 and 2017, missed this year’s tournament after having surgery on her Achilles.
“I’m really excited to play in the OA next year. I’ve been training really hard to prepare myself and I’m just super excited to have the opportunity to compete, especially in front of a crowd, we didn’t had this for a while, ”she said.
“I thought the other day that the Victorians have had such a tough year with the pandemic, so I hope the OA is a good chance for people to come out and watch, and be thrilled that tennis is back. I’m gonna make sure I bring in double the energy, so hopefully the crowd will too. “
The Australian Open kicks off on February 8.
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