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Talented Aussies awarded AO2020 wildcards

  • Matt Trollope

Several young Australian players have been given wildcard entries into the main draw at Australian Open 2020, beginning Monday 20 January at Melbourne Park.

Astra Sharma, Chris O’Connell, Priscilla Hon, Marc Polmans, Lizette Cabrera, Alex Bolt and Andrew Harris will all play the year’s first Grand Slam event, boosting Australia’s main draw representation to 18 players.

Ash Barty, Alex de Minaur, Nick Kyrgios, John Millman, Ajla Tomljanovic, Jordan Thompson, Alexei Popyrin, Sam Stosur and James Duckworth all earned direct entry into the tournament; fellow Australians John-Patrick Smith and Arina Rodionova received wildcards after winning the AO Play-off events in December.

Other wildcards already announced were the US reciprocal wildcard winners Coco Vandeweghe and Marcos Giron, French wildcards Pauline Parmentier and Hugo Gaston, and Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off winners Na-Lae Han and Tatsuma Ito.

MORE: AO2020 a stepping stone for Vandeweghe, Giron

Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova was also awarded one of the eight women's main draw wildcards.

Sharma was a breakout star at last year’s Australian Open, qualifying for the main draw and reaching the second round before advancing to the mixed doubles final with Smith.

She rose as high as world No.85 – not long after reaching her first WTA final in Bogota – and was selected for the first time as part of Australia’s Fed Cup team.

Hon was another who made her Australian Fed Cup debut in 2019, finishing the year at world No.124 after qualifying for the main draw at five WTA events including Seoul in September, where she won through to the quarterfinals.

O’Connell was one of the most impressive performers in the game in 2019, vaulting from world No.1185 at the end of 2018 to No.120 by the end of 2019.

He won more professional matches than any player in the world last season, his 82-26 record helped by five titles from 14 finals.

Polmans was another player who set a career-high ranking last season; he reached world No.132 in November after advancing to the semifinals of the Playford Challenger, where he extended his tally of match-wins to 36 in 2019.

Cabrera enjoyed a stellar second half of 2019; outside the top 250 after Wimbledon, she then won three ITF titles and 26 of her last 34 matches to slash her ranking to a career-best No.127.

Bolt peaked at world No.125 in March last year, not long after advancing to the third round of Australian Open 2019.

Harris, meanwhile, enjoyed a career best season during which he slashed his ranking from No.400 to No.162 after reaching three ATP Challenger finals. 

AO2020 women's main draw wildcards

1. Astra Sharma
2. Priscilla Hon
3. Lizette Cabrera
4. Maria Sharapova
5. Arina Rodionova (AO Play-off winner)
6. Na-Lae Han (Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off winner)
7. Pauline Parmentier (FFT reciprocal)
8. CoCo Vandeweghe (USTA reciprocal)

AO2020 men's main draw wildcards

1. Chris O'Connell
2. Marc Polmans
3. Alex Bolt
4. Andrew Harris
5. John-Patrick Smith (AO Play-off winner)
6. Tatsuma Ito (Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off winner)
7. Hugo Gaston (FFT reciprocal)
8. Marcos Giron (USTA reciprocal)