MELBOURNE, January 6, 2018
Alexei Popyrin (NSW) and Jason Kubler (Qld) have been awarded the final two main draw wildcards into the Australian Open.
Popyrin, 18, is one of Australia’s brightest tennis prospects, coming to the world’s attention after winning the junior title at Roland Garros in 2017.
The Sydneysider also won his first ITF tournament in Poland in July last year and today defeated the No.2 seed, Federico Delbonis, in qualifying for the Sydney International.
“I’m so excited to have been awarded this wildcard, for my first ever Grand Slam main draw,” Popyrin said.
“Thanks to everyone at Tennis Australia for giving me the chance, I’m going to give it a real go.
“I’ve always dreamt of playing the Grand Slams and I can’t believe it is really happening, what an amazing opportunity for me.”
As for Kubler, 24, the talented player is back on track following a series of injuries that have sidelined his career.
In October Kubler started in qualifying at the Traralgon Challenger and ended up going all the way, defeating an array of higher ranked players to win the tournament.
The Queenslander, whose career has been hampered by knee injuries, has also had impressive results this week at the Playford Challenger in South Australia. Today he defeated talented young American Reilly Opelka 7-6(3) 6-3 in the semifinal and meets Canadian Brayden Schnur in the final tomorrow.
When I got the call saying I had got the wildcard, I was so happy,” Kubler said.
“It’s been a tough time with all the injuries I’ve had, so that makes this opportunity that much sweeter. I’m incredibly grateful to TA for the opportunity.
“I feel like I’m hitting the ball really well, so who knows what could happen when I get to Melbourne Park. I know I’ll be giving absolutely 100 per cent.”
It’s great to see Jason get this opportunity after finishing the year so strongly, and fighting back after some injury setbacks,” Tennis Australia’s Director of Performance, Wally Masursaid.
Masur is also looking forward to watching the ongoing development of exciting young gun, Alexei Popyrin.
“At 18 I think Alexei is one of the most exciting prospects in Australian tennis.
“He won the French Open junior tournament last year which was really impressive in our eyes. This wildcard will be a huge stepping stone as he goes from playing the top juniors in the world to playing week-in, week-out, on the professional tour.”
Popryin and Kubler join Thanasi Kokkinakis (SA), Alex De Minaur (NSW), Alex Bolt (SA), Tim Smyczek (USA), Soon Woo Kwon (KOR) and Corentin Moutet (FRA) as wildcard recipients for Australian Open 2018.