Aussie No.1, Millman made to wait as rain washes out Aus Open qualifying… with indoor courts reserved for practice


Arina Rodionova’s bid to scrap her way into the Australian Open has been put on hold after the first day of qualifiers at Melbourne Park were washed out.

Monday’s matches were delayed multiple times then ultimately abandoned in the afternoon amid heavy rain.

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Controversially, the main indoor courts – Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and John Cain Arena – were reserved for practice sessions for already qualified players such as Naomi Osaka, Casper Ruud and Alex de Minaur, preventing matches from being moved there.

Rodionova was one of many Australians left to wait until Tuesday to begin their qualifying campaigns, a list which includes the popular John Millman in what will be his final Australian Open before retiring.

Australian Open officials have left open the possibility of switching matches to indoor courts should bad weather continue, with the main draw beginning on Sunday and a full three rounds needed.

It’s not just raining here

Day 1 of Australian Open Qualifying abandoned and rescheduled

We go again tonight with Round 1

— We Do Tennis C.I.C. (@wedotennisuk) January 8, 2024

Rodionova, among a plethora of Australians involved in qualifying, was due to play the second match at Kia Arena on Monday, facing Frenchwoman Leolia Jeanjean, but will have to wait until Tuesday.

Australia’s top-ranked woman was contentiously overlooked for a wildcard, despite impressive form, missing out on the final discretionary entry to Daria Saville.

Rodionova has moved up to a career-best No.105, but was No.112 at the time of the Open main-draw cut-off. 

The 34-year-old dominated the lower-level ITF Tour in 2023, winning 78 matches on her way to seven titles as her ranking surged from No.302 to the brink of the top 100.

Rodionova carried that form into Brisbane – her first WTA event in nearly two years – where she beat recent top-20 talent Martina Trevisan and former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.

Retiring countryman John Millman was due to play on Tuesday, but will now play Italy’s Alessandro Gianessi on Wednesday morning.

Millman also missed out on a wildcard and will have to take the long way through qualifying if he is to reach his final Open.

Tournament chief Craig Tiley backed the wildcard awarding process on Monday.

Arina Rodionova. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)

“There’s lots of things that go into consideration: the age, the form coming in, how many matches they’ve played and what they’ve done over the last 12 months, who they compare to,” he said. 

“We are the grand slam of Asia Pacific.

“We also gave wildcards to a very exciting young player from China in Jerry Shang, who did a great job in Hong Kong, beating Frances Tiafoe.

“On the women’s side, (we have) Mai Hontama from Japan, also young, a 24-year-old.

“Then of course we do an exchange with the US and the French (tennis bodies), and we’ve got some young players.

“Jason Kubler – he was just out (of) getting in direct, so we needed to help him get a wildcard.”

Alas, while helping 30-year-old Kubler out, TA opted against affording 34-year-old Rodionova the same support despite the veteran also only narrowly missing direct entry.

In a thinly-veiled swipe at TA decision makers, Rodionova took to social media after the snubbing to declare her determination to earn her own way into the AO main draw.

I wish I could say I am surprised ????
But honestly. The satisfaction of achieving it all absolutely on your own, despite all this stuff… it is worth it. I will see you guys at AO qualies in couple of days and I am PUMPED for this ???? LFG

— Arina Rodionova (@arinarodionova) January 5, 2024

“I wish I could say I am surprised. But honestly,” Rodionova posted last Friday.

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“The satisfaction of achieving it all absolutely on your own, despite all this stuff … it is worth it.”

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