Australian Open field takes shape
MELBOURNE, Australia -It seems like only yesterday that the tennis season ended but already plans are well under way for next year. It is only a matter of weeks before the new season starts and just over a month until the players take to the court at the Australian Open in Melbourne. The field for the Australian Open is starting to take shape after the initial acceptance list was unveiled earlier this week.
Monday marked the entry deadline for 2017’s first major, with Tennis Australia confirming the identity of 110 of the 128-strong draw. The remaining 18 will be made up of qualifiers and wildcards.
Defending champion Angelique Kerber will be joined by all her principal title rivals, including the returning Serena Williams, who missed the end of 2016 due to injury. The cut-off this year was No.107, with Patricia Maria Tig claiming the last berth.
Also Melbourne-bound will be Luksika Kumkhum and Lizette Cabrera, who have been awarded the first two wildcards.
Australian teenager Cabrera, who will be making her Grand Slam debut, made great strides in 2016, winning two ITF Circuit titles and rising nearly 800 places in the rankings. “It’s amazing news and a pretty surreal feeling. To be honest I’m probably still in a bit of shock, but I’m super excited to start playing,” Cabrera said.
“I think if I’m playing my best tennis you can always match it with any girls inside the Top 100, so I want to try and win as many matches as I can which will hopefully help me play in more WTA tournaments in the future.”
Kumkhum, meanwhile, earned her spot by triumphing over Chang Kai-Chen in the final of the Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off. An ever-present at the Australian Open since 2013, Kumkhum, who upset Petra Kvitova several years back, is eagerly anticipating her return.
“I actually have played in the Australian Open since juniors,” she said. “And I don’t know why, I really like playing there in Melbourne, and had some good results too.
“I feel like at home every time being there, not far from Bangkok, the weather and everything, I think if someone gets used to hot weather, they will like Melbourne too.”