ADELAIDE, Australia – Most people would have wagered the house that Naomi Osaka would not be playing at the Australian Open this year.
But her name remained on the (automatic) entry list – until Sunday.
Just as they were making the qualifying draw, it was announced that the two-time Australian Open champion was out.
She did not play any kind of lead-in tournament. In fact, except for a brief tour at the Tokyo tournament last fall that was probably sponsor-mandated, she hasn’t played since the US Open.
Yastremska into main draw
The timing is fairly important, because once the qualifying begins, any main-draw withdrawals are replaced by lucky losers out of the qualifying.
So that’s a tough go for those who are waiting at the top of the main-draw alternate list.
With Osaka’s pullout, Dayana Yastremska gets straight into the main draw, and won’t have to risk the slog that is three matches of qualifying in the high heat.
No. 1 seed in the qualies will be Alycia Parks, who is ranked more than high enough to get straight in – but those rise to the top 80 came after the entry deadline.
Linda Noskova, who is in the Adelaide final Sunday, is the No. 2 seed. She, too, is ranked well high enough. But she was at No. 102 at the entry deadline.
She will play Canadian Katherine Sebov in the first round.
Bouchard v Krueger
There are three Canadians in the women’s qualifying in all.
In addition to Sebov, Genie Bouchard (with a protected ranking of No. 118), is in the qualifying and will play rising young American Ashlyn Krueger.
Carol Zhao will meet Eudice Chong of Hong Kong.
Here’s what Bouchard’s section of the draw looks like.
Quebecers to make debuts
On the men’s side, there were no late withdrawals.
So Chilean-Canadian Alejandro Tabilo remains the No. 1 seed in the qualifying on the fellas’ side.
And two Quebecers are making their Grand Slam qualifying debuts.
Alexis Galarneau got a pretty good draw in fellow unseeded player Ryan Peniston of Great Britain.
And Gabriel Diallo plays big-serving No. 21 seed, Aleksandar Vukic of Australia.