Sport Tennis Sara Tomic eyeing Australian Open wildcard in Bernard’s absence

Sara Tomic eyeing Australian Open wildcard in Bernard’s absence

Sara Tomic
Sara Tomic will be hoping to progress to the Australian Open proper while her brother Bernard sits it out. Photo: AAP
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Bernard Tomic may be having none of it but that will not stop his sister Sara from trying her luck at the Australian Open wildcard playoff.

Sara Tomic faces top seed Arina Rodionova in the marquee first-round match at Melbourne Park, where 16 men and 16 women are hoping to gain entry to the season’s first grand slam event starting on January 15.

Rodionova, the world No.120 who only missed direct entry by 13 spots, was Australia’s only first-round winner at Wimbledon this year and shapes as a formidable obstacle for 19-year-old Tomic.

Destanee Aiava is seeded second and hoping to rebound from Saturday’s gut-wrenching 6-7 7-6 7-5 loss to Jaimee Fourlis in the final of the Australian under-18 girls’ championship.

The victory landed Fourlis her own wildcard and now the exciting teenage talent is hoping to cause some Open carnage after earning a place in the main draw for the second year running.

Jaimee Fourliss
Jaimee Fourlis won last year’s wildcard play-off. Photo: AAP

At No.322 in the world, Fourlis is ranked 169 spots behind Aiava but held firm in the three-and-a-half-hour thriller to join Ashleigh Barty, Daria Gavrilova and Samantha Stosur in the 128-strong Open draw.

“I’m really happy to get the win,” Fourlis said.

“I just had to play my game, play solid, trust myself. My belief was really big.

“Destanee’s an incredible player, I knew she was going to come out firing.

“I had a great game plan and I can say I executed it pretty well.”

Fourlis last year won the Australian Open wildcard playoff to earn a dream grand slam debut in her home city, beating Anna Tatishvili in the first round before falling to dual major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.

She confirmed her class with a three-set loss to former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki in her second grand slam appearance at the French Open.

“That experience [in Melbourne], and winning a round and playing a great match at the French against Wozniacki, it definitely does build and you get more confidence,” Fourlis said.

“I’ve got nothing to lose. I’m going to enjoy it, I have a grand slam in my backyard.

“I train here every day so it’s unbelievable just to play in one.”

Alex Bolt is top seed in the men’s wildcard playoff and begins his quest against Bernard Nkomba.

The men play on Monday and the women hit the courts on Tuesday.