Kimberly Birrell And James Duckworth Win Australian Open Wildcards

MELBOURNE, December 16, 2018 (Press Release)

Twenty-year-old Kimberly Birrell (Gold Coast, Qld) and James Duckworth (NSW) have been awarded Australian Open 2019 wildcards after winning the AO Play-off finals in Melbourne today.

Birrell defeated Western Australia’s Astra Sharma 6-4 6-2 while James Duckworth(NSW) overcame wildcard Luke Saville (SA) 6-3 5-7 7-5 6-5(2).

“I’m feeling so happy, and just so much joy, and maybe a little bit of relief too. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity and I’m so glad that I was able to take it,” Birrell said fighting back tears after being presented with her player accreditation by Tennis Australia’s Head of Women’s Tennis Nicole Pratt.

“There were a little bit of nerves creeping in at the end – I just had to take it one point at a time,” Birrell admitted.

“She (Astra Sharma) has some really big weapons – she obviously has really good serve and really good forehand. I knew I just had to worry about my end of the court, kind of just back myself, that whenever I got an opportunity I just had to take it.”

Birrell is looking forward to her second Grand Slam appearance and feels her experience from competing at the Australian Open in 2016 will help with her preparation.

“It really helps having been through the whole experience before. I played juniors, I’ve been around the environment. It’s not going to be anything new. And during that AO (in 2016) I played on Hisense Arena, one of the biggest courts in the world. I’m definitely going to draw on that experience.

“I’m going to enjoy this moment first, celebrate with my family, friends and coach, because they’ve put in so much hard work too … and then start working again.

“I have something amazing to look forward to, I’m just going to work really hard between now and then and hope to be ready to go.”

“I think I’m a lot more confident now … I think when I step out onto the court I’ll not feel so overwhelmed. I’ve been around the world this year playing all four Grand Slams so looking forward to the challenge now.”

Duckworth qualifies

Duckworth was also relieved to get the win today, after a long rain delay during the fourth set.

“I’ve obviously been through a lot over the last couple of years and to be able to play my home Grand Slam again – which in my opinion is the best tournament in the world, the support you get here is incredible – is just an unbelievable feeling,” Duckworth said after the match.

After battling injuries, and undergoing more than five surgeries in the past 24 months, Duckworth was overcome with emotion after winning the final.

“There were definitely times over the last few years when I thought maybe I’d never play tennis again, let alone the Australian Open. It was tough sitting on the sidelines and going through so much rehab and spending so much time on the operating table as well. So to be able to get back is just a dream come true.”

A women’s doubles wildcard was also up for grabs at the AO Play-off, and was awarded to Destanee Aiava (Vic) and Naiktha Bains (Qld) who won 6-2 6-3 over Astra Sharma (WA) and Isabella Wallace (Vic) yesterday.

 AO Play-off 2019 day 7 results – Men’s and Women’s singles finals

[8] Kimberly Birrell (Qld)

d

[5] Astra Sharma (WA)

6-4 6-2

[3] James Duckworth (NSW)

d

[WC] Luke Saville (SA)

6-3 5-7 7-5 6-5(2)

Women’s main draw wildcards (as at 16 December 2018)

US reciprocal:

Whitney Osuigwe

French reciprocal:

TBC

Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off:

Shuai Peng (CHN)

Australian Pro Tour:

Priscilla Hon (AUS)

AO Play-off:

Kimberly Birrell (AUS)

Discretionary x 3: 

TBC

Men’s main draw wildcards (as at 16 December 2018)

US reciprocal:

Jack Sock (USA)

French reciprocal:

TBC

Asia-Pacific Play-off:

Zhe Li (CHN)

AO Play-off:

James Duckworth (AUS)

Discretionary:

Jason Kubler (AUS)

Discretionary x 3: 

TBC