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With the 2022 tennis season nearing its conclusion, the focus naturally turns to the 2023 summer and in particular – the Australian Open.

And with Aussie fans seeking to get behind as many locals as possible, which players are framing as contenders for the main draw?

On the men’s side, Tennis Australia will have five main draw wildcards to internally allocate – as wildcard exchanges were taken at the 2022 French Open and US Open, but not at Wimbledon, whilst the Asia-Pacific region will receive one.

They will additionally have four main draw wildcards to award on the women’s side, as exchanges were taken at each of the other three majors in 2022.

Tennis Australia has also disclosed to ‘The First Serve’ that training camps will be held in the cities of Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney to help players prepare for the 2023 summer.

These camps will run under the same structure as those held in 2021 and will have no impact on determining which players receive wildcards.

Therefore, it can be assumed that after direct entries, a combination of rankings, form, and age will be used for wildcard allocation.

Men’s Outlook:

Two men have moved well clear of the pack, in Nick Kyrgios and Alex De Minaur – both guaranteeing themselves a seed in Melbourne come January.

Beyond that, five players remain in the frame for direct entries into the main draw and sit within the following categories:

Guaranteed main draw direct entry:

Chris O’Connell

Jordan Thompson

Thanasi Kokkinakis

High chance of main draw direct entry:

Jason Kubler

Low chance but possibility of main draw direct entry:

Alexei Popyrin

The most likely scenario appears that six Aussie men (Kyrgios, De Minaur, O’Connell, Thompson, Kokkinakis, Kubler) will not require wildcards, leaving those opportunities to the following group of players.

The Lead Wildcard Contenders: (# denotes current ATP ranking)

Alexei Popyrin (#131) will almost certainly receive a main draw wildcard should he miss out on direct entry. The 23-year-old has endured a difficult year on tour but has won a match in six of his past seven hard court majors and remains one of our brighter male prospects.

John Millman (#155) has recently fallen outside the ATP top 150 for the first time since 2017, after a 9-17 record at ATP level this season. The 33-year-old has been a constant presence at Grand Slams over the past eight years and should be rewarded with a main draw berth.

Aleks Vukic (#165) kicked off 2022 in stellar fashion, but his form has dropped off since February. Despite currently being the third highest ranked of the contending group, he will drop another 48 points this month and a poor fortnight at Challenger events in Playford and Sydney won’t help his case.

Rinky Hijikata (#167) has made a name for himself over recent months after a battle with Rafael Nadal at the US Open and a maiden Challenger title last month. The 21-year-old is the youngest Australian man inside the top 300 and holds a strong case for a wildcard spot.

James Duckworth (#171) struggled upon his return from injury in May, after a brilliant 2021 season. Recent losses to fellow Aussies Rinky Hijikata, Li Tu, and Marc Polmans could hurt his chances, but he has been a feature in ten of the past eleven AO main draws.

Li Tu (#196) has continued to better his remarkable story in 2022, recently adding a Challenger title to his resume and taking his ATP ranking from 681 to 190 in just one year. Tu has the level to be competitive in the main draw and should get another chance.

Max Purcell (#213) controversially missed out on a wildcard last year and comes in ranked slightly lower this time around. A strong run of form recently in Playford/Sydney will give him an opportunity but he seems likely to narrowly miss out once again.

Men’s main draw wildcard prediction: (6 direct entries + 5 wildcard places)

Alexei Popyrin

John Millman

Rinky Hijikata

James Duckworth

Li Tu

(Alternate - Aleks Vukic)

*Must be noted that Dominic Thiem (2020 AO finalist) currently sits at world number 102 and would require a wildcard in the unlikely circumstance that he fails to directly qualify.

Qualifying Direct Entries:

Aleks Vukic

Max Purcell

Dane Sweeny

Omar Jasika

Marc Polmans (Protected Ranking)

Likely Qualifying Wildcards: (8 or 9 places)

Alex Bolt

Akira Santillan

Tristan Schoolkate

James McCabe

Adam Walton

Philip Sekulic

Bernard Tomic

Matthew Dellavadova

Edward Winter


Dayne Kelly

Thomas Fancutt

Women’s Outlook:

The WTA side of things is a whole lot bleaker than the ATP – with just one active woman in the top 150 – leaving a competitive battle for main draw wildcards.

Alja Tomljanovic (#33) will directly qualify for the first week after a tremendous 2022 season and could be seeded at a major for the first time.

Daria Saville (#53) is the only other woman who would have received direct entry but will unfortunately miss the 2023 summer with an ACL tear suffered in September.

The Lead Wildcard Contenders:

Priscilla Hon (#153) comes in as the highest ranked contender and will be all but guaranteed a wildcard spot. The 24-year-old is up over 100 places this year and a recent title in Cairns will hold her in good stead.

Jaimee Fourlis (#166) set her goal earlier in the season to reach the top 150 in 2022 and did exactly that in June after starting the year at number 329. The 23-year-old won three singles titles this year which only Hon matches among this group and is a very strong chance.

Maddison Inglis (#180) took full advantage of her 2022 main draw wildcard and was the only Aussie woman other than Ash to reach the third round. Recent battles with both Birrell and Gadecki indicate that this group is incredibly tough to split.

Kim Birrell (#190) recently made her case for a fourth AO main draw wildcard with a brilliant week in Playford, defeating Fourlis and Inglis on her way to the title. Was also the only woman to reach the final round of qualifying at the 2022 event.

Olivia Gadecki (#216) missed the 2022 summer due to her anti-vaccine status but remains a very promising prospect. The 20-year-old was particularly strong during the Australian ITF events this year, reaching the quarterfinals stage in all nine local tournaments she played in, but may narrowly miss out on ranking with only four places available on the women’s side.

Women’s main draw wildcard prediction: (1 direct entry + 4 wildcards)

Priscilla Hon

Jaimee Fourlis

Maddison Inglis

Kim Birrell

(Alternate - Olivia Gadecki)

Qualifying Direct Entries:

Olivia Gadecki

Astra Sharma

Storm Sanders

Likely Qualifying Wildcards: (8 or 9 places)

Lizette Cabrera

Arina Rodionova

Alexandra Bozovic

Seone Mendez

Ellen Perez

Talia Gibson

Destanee Aiava

Petra Hule

Taylah Preston


Olivia Tjandramulia

Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz

Ultimately, local fans can expect to see at least eleven Aussie men and five Aussie women in the 2023 main draw, as well as a strong contingent of locals in qualifying looking to reach the first week and add to those numbers.

Tournament organisers are aspiring to see a record 900,000 fans stream through the gates at Melbourne Park over the three-week event – so the more Aussies on show, the better for everyone.


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