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Arina Rodionova to make US Open debut after winning wildcard play-off

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Victoria’s Arina Rodionova has secured a US Open main draw wildcard after winning a play-off in New Haven, Connecticut this morning. The world No.134 and top seed at the eight-player Australian tournament, beat second seed Lizette Cabrera (Qld) in the final 7-6(5) 6-1.

Rodionova, who qualified for Wimbledon, will now play her second Grand Slam main draw in a row and her sixth overall; this will be her first time in the singles main draw at Flushing Meadows. 

The first set was tightly contested, with Cabrera holding three set points in the 10th game yet unable to convert. Rodionova, with gritty defence, snared the opening set and then ran away with the match.

The result is a continuation of the form that saw her recently rise to a career-high ranking of 130 and secure her first Grand Slam singles main draw win at Wimbledon before she reached her first WTA quarterfinal in Nanchang, China.

Despite the loss, 19-year-old Cabrera is enjoying her highest ranking too, on the verge of the world’s top 150.

Cabrera will have another shot at a place in the main draw when she takes part in US Open qualifying this week.

Destanee Aiava (Vic), who fell to Rodionova in the wildcard play-off semifinals, will also contest the qualifying tournament.

“It was a highly competitive three days. The ladies also had the opportunity to play alongside the WTA Connecticut Open with some of the best players in the world competing,” Tennis Australia Head of Women’s Professional Tennis Nicole Pratt said today.

“No matter what the score line, Arina kept trying to run down every ball. It's her consistency and variety that forces her opponents into errors, her movement around the court is excellent and that draws her opponents into going for too much.

“With these matches under her belt combined with the positive results she has had this year there is no doubt Arina can win rounds in the main draw, she showed this at Wimbledon this year.”

Pratt is confident the Aussie women’s contingent will put in a positive showing at next week’s US Open.

“Both Ash (Barty) and Dash (Daria Gavrilova) have had some outstanding wins on hardcourt recently and I believe they could go deep into the draw,” Pratt added.

“Dash has the benefit of being seeded so will play a lower ranked player in the first round, while Ash is capable of beating anyone and if she draws a seed they are likely to be the one thinking they have a tough draw.”

Eighteen-year-old Alex De Minaur (NSW) was awarded a men’s US Open wildcard last week.

A breakthrough season saw De Minaur’s ranking soar from world No.351 in January to a career-high of 186 last week.

He reached his first ATP Challenger final in Spain in early August and won his first professional title, an ITF Futures, in Portugal last month.

“This is a fantastic opportunity and I’d like to thank Tennis Australia for the wildcard. I can’t wait to play at the US Open for the first time and will give it my best,” De Minaur said.

Rodionova will join fellow Aussies Daria Gavrilova (Vic), Ash Barty (Qld) and Ajla Tomljanovic (Qld) in the women’s main draw while De Minaur will join Nick Kyrgios (ACT), Jordan Thompson (NSW), Bernard Tomic (Qld), John Millman (Qld) and Thanasi Kokkinakis (SA) on the men’s side, with a raft of Aussie hopefuls aiming to qualify for the tournament this week.

Qualifying for the US Open commences on Tuesday, with eight Australians among the 128 men and 128 women competing for 16 qualifying berths in both the men’s and women’s singles draws.

Main draw action gets under way at Flushing Meadows on Monday 28 August.