Sport Daria Gavrilova lands wildcard entry for Australian Open

Daria Gavrilova lands wildcard entry for Australian Open

Daria Gavrilova has been awarded a wildcard for February's Australian Open.
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Injury-hit former Aussie No.1 Daria Gavrilova is among six home hopes to have been handed wildcards for the rescheduled Australian Open.

Tennis Australia on Wednesday night also granted Astra Sharma, Maddison Inglis and Lizette Cabrera entry to the 128-strong women’s draw and men’s wildcards to Chris O’Connell and Marc Polmans.

“While 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year, we’re proud of the strength and resilience this group of players has shown during this difficult time,” Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said.

“Chris, Marc, Dasha, Astra, Maddy and Lizette have all inspired us with their efforts both on and off the court, here at home and in unprecedented conditions overseas.

“We are excited to give them the opportunity to compete at Australian Open 2021.”

First-round Open losers are guaranteed $100,000, up 15 per cent from last year.

“The grand slams are the pinnacle of our sport and the chance to play at home is an experience we know these deserving players will cherish,” Tiley said.

A debilitating foot injury has restricted Gavrilova to just seven matches since the 2019 US Open.

The 26-year-old one-time world No.20 has slipped to 450th in the rankings.

But she showed her class with a straight-sets win over seeded Russian Dayana Yastremska at the French Open in September.

Marc Polmans has also been awarded a wildcard for Melbourne.

Gavrilova has twice reached the fourth round in Melbourne and can’t wait to play in front of her own fans again from February 8.

“I’m really excited to play in the AO next year,” said the former world junior No.1.

“I’ve been training really hard to prepare and I’m just super excited to get the opportunity to compete, especially in front of a crowd. We haven’t had that for a while.”

World No.120 O’Connell is thrilled to secure a place in the men’s main draw, having pushed new top-tenner Andrey Rublev to four sets in the first round last year, then won his first grand slam match at Flushing Meadows.

“I was super pumped to get the call,” O’Connell said.

“I was lucky enough to receive a wildcard last year and it was an amazing experience.

“I’m extremely excited to play in another Australian Open and compete against some of the best players in the world.”

TA will announce the remaining 10 wildcard entrants – six men and four women – in coming weeks.