Teen sensations Alex de Minaur and Destanee Aiava have booked their spots at next month’s Australian Open with impressive victories in the wildcard playoff finals.
The second-seeded de Minaur overcame a third-set hiccup to down No.1 seed Alex Bolt 6-2 6-4 6-7 (1-7) 6-1, while Aiava hammered Tammi Patterson 6-4 6-0 in the women’s decider.
De Minaur made his Open main draw debut last year after receiving a discretionary wildcard and fully justified it with an impressive first-round win over Austrian Gerald Melzer.
But gaining a wildcard for the 2018 Open purely on merit was even more special.
“I feel like I thoroughly deserve this one – that’s what happens when you are actually playing for one,” said the 18-year-old De Minaur.
“I couldn’t be happier with my level and I can’t wait for the Australian summer to come.”
De Minaur was the form player of the week, dropping only two sets in four matches.
“I think I’ve still got a lot to get better at. But this week my level was great throughout the whole matches,” he said.
“I didn’t think I dropped my concentration at all.”
The 17-year-old Aiava barely gave the third-seeded Patterson a look-in in the women’s decider.
Aiava’s victory came a week after she was beaten by Jaimee Fourlis in the final of the Australian under-18 championship, with the winner of that match also guaranteed an Open wildcard.
“I came into it this week thinking that I’ll just go for it and I have nothing to lose,” said the No.2 seed.
“If it’s a positive outcome then so be it, or negative, then that’s fine as well. And I’m young anyway, so there’s not really much expectation.”
Aiava won the first 12 points of Sunday’s match at Melbourne Park to race to a 3-0 lead.
Patterson fought back to level at 3-3 before Aiava took command, claiming nine of the remaining 10 games.
“I knew I finished off the first set strong so I just wanted to do the same thing and keep building and building momentum and keep firing my shots with confidence,” she said.
“I was trying not to think about the prize at the end. I just wanted to go for it.”