‘Pumped for this’: Aussie women’s No.1’s perfect response to controversial Aus Open wildcard snub
Australia’s women’s No.1 Arina Rodionova has been contentiously overlooked for a wildcard into her home grand slam.
The Victorian this week pleaded with Australian Open organisers not to forget her as the 34-year-old fell one win short at the Brisbane International of cracking the world’s top 100 for the first time.
“If it was up to me, I would give it to myself but there’s other people involved,” Rodionova said after ousting 2021’s Melbourne Park champion Sofia Kenin to reach the second round as a wildcard in Brisbane.
“Hopefully they like the way I’m playing this week. I’ve done all the hard work, I put myself in the best position and there’s nothing else I could have done to get myself closer.”
After the snub was confirmed, Rodionova took to X with a defiant response, saying she was ‘pumped’ to begin the Australian Open qualifying tournament and reach the grand slam main draw the hard way.
Alas, Rodionova was on Friday snubbed in favour of former top-20 star Daria Saville, who was awarded Tennis Australia’s final discretionary wildcard into the season’s first grand slam which starts on Sunday week.
On the comeback trail from a serious knee injury, Saville reached the fourth round at the Open in 2016 and 2017.
Since returning to the tour last June, the former junior world No.1 has improved her ranking from a low of 322nd to her current position of 209th.
Saville began the year with a strong opening-round win in Brisbane before bowing out in three tight sets to 11th seed Anastasia Potapova.
The 29-year-old joins former world No.1 and 2018 AO champion Caroline Wozniacki and Australians Kim Birrell, Olivia Gadecki and Taylah Preston among the women’s wildcard recipients.
As well as having to attempt to qualify, Rodionova will suffer the financial blow of missing out on the guaranteed $120,000 for first-round losers at Melbourne Park.
Australians Jason Kubler and James McCabe received men’s wildcards on Friday.
Kubler excelled in Brisbane, where he beat former AO semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev to reach the round of 16 before falling to Rafael Nadal.
Ranked world No.102 in singles, Kubler is the reigning Australian Open men’s doubles champion alongside compatriot Rinky Hijikata.
McCabe, a 20-year-old Sydneysider who improved his ranking by more than 100 places in 2023, will make his grand slam debut.
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The world No.272 came extremely close to upsetting Dominic Thiem in the opening round of Brisbane qualifying before the former world No.3 and 2020 US Open champion recovered from multiple match points down to win in three sets.