Bernard Tomic To Skip Australian Open Wildcard Playoff
Former world No.17 Bernard Tomic is in danger of missing the main draw of the Australian Open for the first time since 2008 after electing to skip a wildcard playoff event.
Tomic, who has fallen down to 142nd in the world rankings, would have been the top seed in the draw. Which features 16 Australian players fighting it out with the eventual winner securing a place in the first grand slam of 2018. Tomic must now play in the qualifying competition a week prior to the Melbourne major to have any chance of reaching the main draw.
The 25-year-old had been urged to play in the tournament by Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt and Tennis Australia’s Head of Performance, Wally Masur, opted not to provide Tomic with a wildcard into the Australian Open. Instead giving the pass to Thanasi Kokkinakis.
“He’s had a tough year and he needs matches and he’s got to put himself out there on the line to have a crack at making the Open.” Hewitt told The Herald Sun last month.
“We all know the kind of tennis he can play but he has to get back to that level and he also needs to commit to the sport as well and we won’t be making any more wildcard decisions until we see what happens in the playoffs.”
Hewitt’s comments follow what has been a poor season on the tour for Tomic. Overall, he has managed to win 11 out of 31 main draw matches. Out of those 11 victories, only three of them occurred after the Wimbledon Championships. His best results were reaching the quarterfinals of events in Eastbourne and Istanbul.
John Newcombe recently urged Tomic to take a break from the sport amid his lull in form. Newcombe, who won seven grand slam titles during his career, believes the Australian need to take time away and evaluate what he wants to do in the future.
“I think Bernie needs to step away from the game for three or four months and really think about: is this (tennis) what he wants to do?” Newcombe told Fox Sports Australia.
“And if this is what he wants to do, then he needs to find the best trainer he can find and get himself properly fit.
“It’s not too late but unless he gets himself fit, it’s never going to happen. It’s that simple.”
There has been no comment from Tomic regarding his decision to miss the wildcard playoff.
Santillan and Rodionova to head play-offs
In Tomic’s absence, 20-year-old Akira Santillan will be the top seed. Santillan is currently ranked 145th in the world and won his first Challenger earlier in the year in Winnetka, USA. He will be joined by Alex Bolt, Alex de Minaur and John-Patrick Stewart. Sam Groth, who is set to retire from the sport next year, will also feature in the draw.
“The men’s field is a mix of some really impressive young guys who will be keen to make their mark, alongside established and experienced players,” Hewitt told tennis.com.au.
“The Play-off format will replicate the Australian Open, with best-of-five-set matches giving the players a real feel for Grand Slam conditions. We’ve seen some tough battles over the years and I’m looking forward to watching all the boys in action next week.”
In the women’s draw, Arina Rodionova will be bidding to reach the main draw of the major for the fourth time in her career. The 27-year-old is the top seed and the only players ranked inside the top 150 at 119th in the world.
“We’ve got some really strong players such as Arina Rodionova, who has traditionally performed well at this event. Arina had a strong finish to her year, ending up just outside the top 100, so she’ll be highly motivated,” Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik said about the women’s draw.
Destanee Aiava, who has won two ITF titles during 2017, will be aiming to reach the main draw for the second year in a row. Aiava has risen over 200 places in the WTA rankings since the start of the year. Other entrants include Anastasia Rodionova, Jaimee Fourlis and Sara Tomic (sister of Bernard).
Full list of entrants
(145) Akira Santillan (Qld)
(192) Alex Bolt (SA)
(210) Alex de Minaur (NSW)
(219) John-Patrick Smith (Qld)
(245) Sam Groth (Vic)
(264) Dayne Kelly (Vic)
(273) Omar Jasika (Vic)
(278) Andrew Whittington (Vic)
(300) Maverick Banes (Qld)
(313) Bradley Mousley (SA)
(322) Marc Polmans (Vic)
(334) Jason Kubler (Qld)
[WC] (341) Christopher O’Connell (NSW)
[WC] (494) Andrew Harris (Vic)
[WC] (523) Luke Saville (SA)
[WC] (673) Blake Ellis (Qld)
(119) Arina Rodionova (Vic)
(153) Destanee Aiava (Vic)*
(322) Jaimee Fourlis (Vic)*
(344) Tammi Patterson (Vic)
(349) Kimberly Birrell (Qld)
(372) Naiktha Bains (Qld)
(376) Zoe Hives (Vic)
(390) Anastasia Rodionova (Vic)
(394) Olivia Tjandramulia (Qld)
(424) Astra Sharma (WA)
(466) Sara Tomic (Qld)
(485) Alison Bai (ACT)
[WC] (555) Michaela Haet (NSW)
[WC] (581) Belinda Woolcock (Vic)
[WC] (618) Alexandra Bozovic (NSW)*
[WC] 18s Australian Championship girls’ runner-up
*Currently playing the 18s Australian Championships