Who to watch in AO2020 qualifying

  • Alex Sharp

With a ticket into the main draw as the ultimate prize, Australian Open qualifying always provides a plethora of intriguing storylines and enticing encounters to launch the action at Melbourne Park.

ORDER OF PLAY: Tuesday 14 January

Some players are on the comeback trail, youngsters search for their major breakthrough, and others are desperate to feature in their home Slam. 

Here are key names vying for a place into Australian Open 2020, when the qualifying event starts Tuesday 14 January. 

Talented teens

Coco Gauff certainly deserved the limelight in an astonishing 2019, but close friend and doubles partner Caty McNally has also been building up to a major move. 

The 18-year-old reached a maiden WTA semifinal in Washington last August, prior to pushing Serena Williams to three sets in the US Open second round. 

Gauff and McNally, self-titled #McCoco, also picked up two doubles titles in 2019, so expect some versatile play coming forward.

DRAW: women's qualifying singles

Another teenager to keep an eye on at Melbourne Park is Colombia’s Maria Camila Osorio Serrano. 

The 18-year-old capped her junior career in style by lifting the US Open trophy last year and has already made inroads at tour level.  

McNally and Osorio Serrano will hope to copy the captivating 2018 run of Marta Kostyuk, the then 15-year-old who broke a host of records by breezing through qualifying and making the main draw third round. 

Can Kostyuk, now 17, recapture that 2018 feeling?

Comeback trail

Rewind two years and Hyeon Chung earned a legion of new fans in Melbourne by surging into the Australian Open semifinals. 

The South Korean was set to be a leader for the ‘Next Gen’ pack before a succession of injuries halted his progress in 2019. 

Yet by the US Open the world No.126 was back in peak condition, roaring through qualifying before advancing to the third round.

There was halted by eventual champion Rafael Nadal, however, he will be eager to make up for lost time on the sidelines.

DRAW: men's qualifying singles

Another former Australian Open semifinalist, Eugenie Bouchard, will arrive at Melbourne Park boosted by fond memories. 

Back in 2014, the Canadian reached the final four and will be targeting a return to form via a positive qualifying campaign.

Currently ranked No.262, she has shown encouraging signs this week with a run to the WTA Auckland quarterfinals.  

American duo Nicole Gibbs and Shelby Rogers will also continue their comebacks at Melbourne Park.

Former world No.68 Gibbs overcame salivary gland cancer in 2019, while 2016 Roland Garros quarterfinalist Rogers was forced to miss Australian Open 2019 after knee surgery.

Both will be raring to go Down Under, having just clashed this week in the first round of the WTA event in Shenzhen – a match Rogers won in three sets.

Emerging stars

Only the most dedicated tennis fans would have heard of Emil Ruusuvuori prior to last season.

The Finn soared into the spotlight in September by dispatching world No.4 Dominic Thiem in straight sets during Davis Cup duty.

The 20-year-old won four Challenger titles in 2019 and has the artillery to cause damage on the major stage. He’s rapid, robust and relishes a battle.

Fan favourites

Very few possess the creativity and audacity wielded from the racket of Dustin Brown, a player who guarantees a packed crowd to catch a glimpse of his nonchalant-yet-effective style.

Brown fell at the final hurdle in qualifying last year at Melbourne Park. 

Expect diving volleys and spontaneous shot-making again this time around – but what else can the gregarious German conjure up in 2020? 

Another player who can draw a crowd is 31-year-old Ernests Gulbis. 

The Latvian is a former top 10 player with a 2014 Roland Garros semifinal to his name, yet has since fallen to No.258 in the rankings.