February 19, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

(Almost) All Aboard for the Australian Open (updated)

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Today is the deadline for main draw entry at the Australian Open.

And just about everyone on the WTA side is on board for the first Grand Slam of the 2023 season.

All, that is, except Simona Halep (No. 10) and Daria Saville (No. 54).

Saville blew out her ACL and had surgery, so she’s out for awhile. Halep had a positive doping test come up in October; there’s been no word on how the usually-slow wheels of ITIA justice are rolling on that one. But while she’s suspended, she’s not allow to enter any tournaments anyway.

But the most striking thing is the number of players using protected rankings who are on the entry list.

(We’re not 100% sure that the lists we’ve seen are the final ones, as it’s around the deadline. But if not, they’re pretty close).

But there are 11 “protected ranking” players entered. And that means, currently, the last player directly into the Australian Open is … Belgium’s Ysaline Bonaventure, who is ranked No. 95.

In on protected rankings are: Sofia Kenin (No. 4), Anastasia Pavlychenkova (No. 21), Karolina Muchova (No. 22), Marketa Vondrousova (No. 32), Nadia Podoroska (No. 39, Laura Siegemund (No. 57), Patricia Tig (No. 65), Jaqueline Cristian (No. 65), Evgeniya Rodina (No. 73), Zheng Saisai (No. 89) and Kristina Kucova (No. 90).

However, it’s always possible Kenin, a former champion, gets a wild card and doesn’t have to use her protected ranking. And Vondrousova, whose actual ranking is No. 97, is two out (although she’s not entered on the list with her actual ranking, which may well be a software issue).

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It could end up that “protected Vondrousova” could withdraw and leave a spot for “actual Vondrousova”.

Kenin getting a wild card would give a spot to Harriet Dart of Great Britain.

Notably, Genie Bouchard is not entered on the main draw list with her protected ranking of No. 118.

But the way it is, she’d have no shot at getting into the main draw with it anyway. She has yet to enter the qualifying event, but the deadline isn’t for a few weeks.

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Bouchard in the 2021 Australian Open qualifying, where she lost in the second round.
She hasn’t played the AO main draw since 2019.

The men have their six PRs

On the men’s side, there also are a number of protected rankings in the initial entry list – six in all.

Stan Wawrinka (No. 22), Lloyd Harris (No. 47), Kyle Edmund (No. 48), Hugo Dellien (No. 73), Guido Pella (No. 75) and Jérémy Chardy (No. 88) among them.

Gaël Monfils, who had been automatically entered, is already out, which moves No. 99 Nuno Borges of Portugal in as the last player.

Monfils in Montreal, where he retired in his scond-round match against Jack Draper in August.
He hasn’t played since, and is already out of January’s Australian Open.

Canadian Vasek Pospisil, at No. 100, is the next one in.

Attila Balazs of Hundary is right behind him with a No. 101 protected ranking.

There are no other players missing from the lineup.

So far. You know that on both sides, eventually some players won’t make the date.

Choosing Adelaide … or the United Cup

The new combined United Cup tournament has left the first week of WTA events Down Under a bit bereft.

Typically, they can be pretty hard to get into. But Coco Gauff is the only top 20 player entered for Auckland (although they do have wild cards). And she and Karolina Muchova (PR No. 22) are the only players in the top 35.

Iga Swiatek (No. 1), Jessica Pegula (No. 3), Caroline Garcia (No. 4), Maria Sakkari (No. 6), Madison Keys (No. 11), Belinda Bencic (No. 12), Paula Badosa (No. 13), Beatriz Haddad Maia (No. 15) and Petra Kvitova (No. 16) are the top-20 players entered in the United Cup.

That leaves Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka, Dasia Kasatkina and Veronika Kudermetova as the top 10 players entered in Adelaide, which has a 30-player singles draw.

Canadian Bianca Andreescu also entered Adelaide, with her protected ranking of No. 22. And she needed it.

The cutoff (so far) for the first WTA 500 of the year stands at No. 34 – Irina-Camelia Begu.

Canadian Rebecca Marino is into the Adelaide qualifying. But she’s also in the main draw in Auckland.

Australia
The two weeks in Adelaide will be joint events – 500s for the women, 250s for the men.

Adelaide No. 2 a stronger field

While Swiatek has no plans (so far, with a week left) to play the second tournament in Adelaide, Jabeur is signed on for the double-header.

And Pegula, Garcia, Keys, Bencic, Badosa, Haddad Maia and Kvitova plan to join the chat making it 14 of the top 20, at this stage.

Other players who are not entered the first week but are the second week include: Barbora Krejcikova, Amanda Anisimova and Victoria Azarenka.

Andreescu, so far, isn’t planning to play both. Leylah Fernandez, who will be in Auckland the first week, is entered in the main draw (and unlikely to make it, at No. 40), but not yet in the qualifying.

With the extra entries, the current cutoff for the second Adelaide tournament sits with Azarenka, at No. 26.

The Slam champions? It’s complicated

Osaka on the practice court in Melbourne last January.

The tough cutoffs leave player like Garbiñe Muguruza in a situation where she has to decide whether or not to play qualifying in Adelaide (she is not entered in Auckland).

Naomi Osaka is entered into the Australian Open (that is automatic for players in the top 200 away).

But so far, she’s not entered in anything else. Is she even training? It’s all very on the down low.

Emma Raducanu, with a ranking of No. 75, won’t even sniff the main draw at the second Adelaide tournament.

But there are two “top-20” wild cards available in that event. So the competition could be fierce. But Osaka could also look at Auckland for a wild card, if she’s of a mind to play.

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Meanwhile, Bouchard has entered the main draw and the qualifying for the first tournament in Adelaide. But with that protected ranking of No. 118, she isn’t likely to sniff a spot in either draw.

She isn’t entered in the Auckland main draw, nor the qualifying – although that deadline isn’t until next week.

Bouchard doesn’t qualify for a “top-20” wild card. But she did win the doubles there in 2019 with Kenin; it remains to be seen if that, or the fact that she does get a lot of wild cards, will be enough to get her in there.

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