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Australian Open wildcards for Olivia Rogowska and Ben Mitchell

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Australian Open Play-off finalist Olivia Rogowska and 2010 Wimbledon junior finalist Ben Mitchell have been awarded wildcards into the Australian Open. Both members of the AIS Pro Tour program, Rogowska and Mitchell finished 2011with solid results and big ranking improvements.

"It's always exciting to play at home at the Australian Open, my dream Grand Slam," 20-year-old Rogowska said. "I've been working really hard and had some good results, particularly in the second half of the year and I'm looking forward to January. It's been great to be back working with Johnno (AIS Coach Chris Johnstone) and he's helped me get back on track. We're working on lots of things and they're starting to come together in matches so we've got a good thing going at the moment.

"I'm certainly believing in myself a lot more, putting in lots of hard work and now seeing it start to pay off. In 2011 I won two events and slashed my ranking from 280 to 160, I qualified for my first WTA event in Sweden and started to get some good solid results – finals, semis – lots of matches, which is exactly what I needed."

Rogowska is currently training in Sydney with Sam Stosur and Casey Dellacqua and enjoyed a hit with Stosur this morning.

"It was fantastic. We hit for two hours and I tried hard to give her my very best. It's good to see how a top ten player trains and its great preparation for January," Rogowska continued.

Ben Mitchell has been a stand-out player on the Australian Pro-Tour this year, reaching seven finals – Berri, Alice Springs, Cairns, Esperance, Kalgoorlie, Traralgon and Bendigo. He won three and also won an event in Spain and was runner up in the UK.

"You pretty much play your whole career to compete in Grand Slams, so it's a dream come true to play at the Australian Open," Mitchell said. "I'm going to take it one step at a time and hopefully I can do well. I've had a great year working with Brent (Larkham) at the AIS and physically I feel in the best shape of my life.

"In the second half of the year I just played lots and lots of matches and it really helps to have that match fitness as we go into the summer."

"Ben's really earned his opportunity to compete at the Australian Open," said Brent Larkham, AIS Head Coach. "He's just turned 19 and this year has progressed his ranking up about 400 places, from 609 to around 220 and in 2012 is looking forward to competing at a higher level, on the Challenger Tour and in Grand Slam qualifying.

"Having the opportunity to compete at the Australian Open is a great way for Ben to start his year and I believe he's physically and technically ready to win some matches in January."

Mitchell, along with fellow AIS Pro Tour program member and Australian Open wildcard recipient James Duckworth, is spending time in Brisbane this week hitting with Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter.

"It's been great to work with Pat, he's a really good guy and the work we're doing on court this week will really help my game."