Bernard Tomic, Carsten Ball, Sally Peers and Sophie Ferguson Awarded Australian Open Wildcards

Bernard Tomic,Carsten Ball, Sally Peers and Sophie Ferguson have been granted the final wildcards into the main draw of Australian Open 2011.

Eighteen-year-old Tomic put his precocious talent on display this week, winning three tough rounds to qualify for the Medibank Sydney International.

Tomic, ranked world No. 209, defeated the No.101 Russian Igor Kunitsyn in the first round and went on to win in straight sets over two top 100 players – No.2 seed and world No.60 Michael Berrer from Germany, and finally the fifth seed Lukasz Kubot, ranked No.72.

Carsten Ball achieved some solid results during 2010, including winning a Challenger in Lexington, reaching the final in Dallas and the semis in both Aptos and Tiburon. Ball qualified for Wimbledon and won first rounds at both the French Open and US Open. He and regular doubles partner Chris Guccione also won their first ATP doubles title in Newport.

Ball has become a Davis Cup regular, winning six of the eight matches he’s played since making his debut in 2008.

“These [wildcards] are always difficult decisions,” Tennis Australia’s head of men’s tennis Todd  Woodbridge said today.

“We wanted to see players achieve some results, and Carsten has certainly done that throughout the year.

“Bernard is a talent but cannot be rewarded with a wildcard on that along, nor should he ever expect that. He has not had much tennis and he missed the AO Play-off so the pressure was on him to perform, particularly after he did not play well in Brisbane.

“He had not done enough. He needed to produce something in Sydney and he has done that with three good wins. His tennis has now earned this wildcard.”

Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter added “In making these decisions we are also looking at creating a culture that will help us build a strong Davis Cup team.”

“I want to see a real work ethic, attitude and sense of camaraderie that reflects our proud tennis history. That’s always stood out as being a point of difference with the Aussie players.”

Nineteen year-old Victorian Sally Peers enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2010, qualifying and winning through to the second round at the US Open, where she made a memorable centre court debut against Kim Clijsters. Peers also won gold with Anastasia Rodionova in doubles at the Delhi Commonwealth Games.

Sophie Ferguson (NSW) reached a career-high ranking of 119 in June after an impressive run at Roland Garros, qualifying for the main draw and winning in the first round before falling to No.17 seed and eventual champion Francesca Schiavone. Ferguson was runner-up at two ITF events, at Fort Walton (USA) and Biarritz (FRA), and qualified for WTA events in Ponte Vedra Beach and Charleston in the US, and Birmingham in the UK.

“Congratulations to both Sally and Sophie on their Australian Open wildcards,” Tennis Australia’s head of women’s tennis Craig Morris said today.

“They are both well deserved. Sally has had a great year, with the highlight qualifying for the US Open and her first round win, as well having the chance to represent Australia and win gold in Delhi.

“Sophie has really improved throughout 2010 and I hope this will be a springboard into the top 100 in 2011.”

The following players have been awarded wildcards into Australian Open qualifying:

Winner of Optus 18s Australian Championships:

Sean Berman                                             Isabella Holland

Winner of Australian Open Junior Championships 2010:

Tiago Fernandes                                       Irina Khromacheva

Discretionary – men’s draw:

Chris Guccione , Matt Reid , James Lemke , Luke Saville, Ben Mitchell , James Duckworth and Maverick Banes.

Discretionary – women’s draw:

Jessica Moore, Sophie Letcher,Tammi Patterson , Viktorija Rajicic and Monika Wejnert.

The men’s qualifying draw will be done after 6pm on Tuesday 11 January, and the women’s draw will be completed after 4pm on Wednesday 12 January. Both draws and schedules will be available on www.australianopen.com. Qualifying commences at 10:00am on Wednesday 12 January and matches will be streamed live on www.australianopen.com/live.

Australian Open wildcards have been allocated as follows:

Reciprocal US:   Ryan Harrison (USA)                 Lauren Davies (USA)

Reciprocal French: Benoit Paire (FRA)                 Virginie Razzano (FRA)

Asia Pacific:          Somdev Devvarman (IND)      Kei-chen Chang (TPE)

AO Play-off winners: Marinko Matosevic (Vic)       Olivia Rogowska (Vic)


Peter Luczak, Jelena Dokic, Matt Ebden, Alicia Molik, Carsten Ball, Sally Peers, Bernard Tomic, Sophie Ferguson

Australian Open 2011, presented by Kia Motors in association with ANZ, Jacob’s Creek and Rolex, will take place at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, from 17 to 30 January.