Former top 60 stars Sam Groth and Marinko Matosevic are among the 16 men and women who will battle for an Australian Open main draw wildcard this week (December 12-18) at Melbourne Park.
An annual tournament that offers a coveted wildcard into the main draw of the Australian Open, 16 of Australia’s best and most promising men and women compete in a shortened knock-out style tournament over the course of seven days at the home of the Australian Open, Melbourne Park. Men play over best-of-five - like in grand slams - while women square off in a normal best-of-three format.
Sam Groth is the most recognisable name in the men’s field. The big-serving Victorian struggled in 2016 after off-season foot surgery, and as a result, Groth saw his ranking slip outside the top 200. However a strong finish to the year, which included a Challenger title in Las Vegas, has seen Groth rise to a current mark of 181, making him the second seed this week in Melbourne.
Andrew Whittington - the World No. 170 - is the top seed in the men’s draw. Whittington, 23, has enjoyed a tremendous year and has climbed over 400 spots in the rankings courtesy of capturing six ITF Futures titles, along with reaching a first Challenger final in Gimcheon. If Whittington emerges victorious this week it will mark his first appearance in a grand slam singles main draw.
Marinko Matosevic and John-Patrick Smith, along with junior grand slam singles champions Luke Saville and Omar Jasika are also notable names in the draw. Teenage sensation Alex de Minaur is also a dangerous presence and has the ability to cause multiple upsets.
Arina Rodionova is the top seed in the women’s field. Rodionova, ranked 191 in the world, will start as the big favourite on paper, with the second seed Destanee Aiava ranked almost 200 places below her at 388.
Alison Bai, Naiktha Bains, Tammi Patterson and Priscilla Hon will also challenge for the title, while Sara Tomic - youngster sister of ATP star Bernard - will also be a player to watch.
Australian Open 2017 Wildcard Play-Off Field
 Andrew Whittington (Vic)
 Sam Groth (Vic)
 Marinko Matosevic (Vic)
 Marc Polmans (Vic)
 John-Patrick Smith (Qld)
 Christopher O’Connell (NSW)
 Luke Saville (SA)
 Blake Mott (NSW)
 Max Purcell (NSW)
 Alex De Minaur (NSW)
 Omar Jasika (Vic)
 Dayne Kelly (Vic)
 Maverick Banes (Qld)
 Gavin Van Peperzeel (Qld)
 Harry Bourchier (Tas)
18/u Boys’ Australian Championships winner
 Arina Rodionova (Vic)
 Destanee Aiava (Vic)
 Alison Bai (ACT)
 Jaimee Fourlis (Vic)
 Naiktha Bains (Qld)
 Tammi Patterson (Vic)
 Olivia Tjandramulia (Qld)
 Sara Tomic (Qld)
 Priscilla Hon (Qld)
 Maddison Inglis (WA)
 Abbie Myers (NSW)
 Ellen Perez (NSW)
 Angelique Svinos (NSW)
 Kaylah McPhee (Qld)
 Michaela Haet (NSW)
Belinda Woolcock (Vic)
Men’s action begins on Monday December 12, while the women start on Tuesday December 13.
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