Thanasi Kokkinakis wildcard snub, Marcos Baghdatis, Vera Zvonareva


Snubbed for a discretionary wildcard into the Australian Open, Thanasi Kokkinakis will spearhead the host nation’s qualifying hopes at Melbourne Park.

Nine months after toppling Roger Federer in Miami, stripping the world No.1 ranking from the Swiss, Kokkinakis will lead the Australian charge over the next four days.

Australia has 11 men already in the main draw, with six making the cut on ranking; Alex de Minaur, Nick Kyrgios, John Millman, Matt Ebden, Jordan Thompson and Bernard Tomic.

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There are also five wildcard entrants; Alexei Popyrin, Marc Polmans, Alex Bolt, Jason Kubler and James Duckworth.

Kokkinakis is among 10 Australian men in qualifying and faces Egypt’s world No.184 Mohamed Safwat in the opening round.

Tennis Australia awarded qualifying wildcards to Akira Santillan, Blake Ellis, Rinky Hijikata, Maverick Banes, Max Purcell, Aleksandar Vukic, Luke Saville and Alexander Crnokrak, while John-Patrick Smith is a direct entrant.

Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis and former top-ten Tommy Robredo are also in the qualifying field.

Australia has nine confirmed entrants in women’s singles.

Ash Barty, Daria Gavrilova, Ajla Tomljanovic and Sam Stosur are direct entrants, while Destanee Aiava, Ellen Perez, Zoe Hives and Priscilla Hon have wildcards.

Kimberly Birrell won TA’s wildcard playoff.

Astra Sharma, Olivia Rogowska, Kaylah McPhee, Abbie Myers, Gabriella da Silva Fick, Arina Rodionova, Alexandra Bozovic, Jaimee Fourlis, Maddison Inglis, Naiktha Bains, Isabelle Wallace, Lizette Cabrera will attempt to reach the main draw.

WA’s impressive Sharma faces a tough test against top seed and former world No.2 Vera Zvonareva, while Wallace takes on Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki.

Inglis and Bains clash for a second-round berth.

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