Here's an article in today's Age, a Melbourne newspaper
January 7, 2008
WHEN world No. 78 Anastasia Rodionova arrived for a practice session at Melbourne Park yesterday, the Russian-born baseliner was shocked to walk past a framed photograph of herself on the wall showcasing the Australian top five.
Rodionova's bid for adoption has been a long process, but finally, it seems, a successful one, and by the time the Australian Open begins next week the host nation's painfully thin female ranks will have officially swelled by two.
Slovakian Jarmila Gajdosova last week had the letters AUS attached to her name, and although the WTA rankings list is yet to be updated, Gajdosova played the WTA tournament on the Gold Coast last week as a local.
Ranked 143rd, down from a high of 64 last October, Gajdosova was yesterday awarded Tennis Australia's last remaining discretionary wildcard into the Open's main draw.
Cynics would suggest that this smacks of a struggling tennis nation taking the easy option of importing what it is unable to produce. In truth, neither European was recruited; both initiated the move independently. Still, neither was turned away.
Rodionova, 26, earned direct entry into the main draw.
She has not been informed officially of her changed status, so is cautiously excited about making her grand slam debut as an Australian, although she was encouraged — as well as stunned yesterday — to see her face on the wall outside the locker-room.
"Definitely, I was very surprised to see myself there, and 'Victoria' was right under my name, so that was cool," Rodionova said. "All the girls asked me if I am playing for Australia now, and I said, 'I hope so.' I'm just waiting for it to be confirmed, and I really hope the Australian people will embrace me."
Rodionova has lived in Australia for three years, or at least for as much of the time as her travelling commitments have allowed. She has bought a house in Caulfield North with her Australian partner, Lorne Padman, and was granted permanent residency in August.
That was enough to qualify as an Australian — but Rodionova thought she needed an Australian passport. Only once Rodionova realised Gajdosova was playing as an Australian on the Gold Coast did she become aware she could ask for a "change of nationality" request to be sent to the WTA by Tennis Australia.
That should be a formality, and there is now pictorial evidence that makes it safe to assume that this stage of the process is complete. Thus, two more names have been added to an Australian starting list for the Open that includes direct entrants Alicia Molik, Nicole Pratt and Casey Dellacqua, and wildcards Christina Wheeler, Monique Adamczak, Sophie Ferguson and Jess Moore.
"I'm completely thrilled that I finally get to play under the flag of my home country," Rodionova said. "I had no idea that I could have done it before now … but it's good it's happening right before the Australian Open."
OUR TOP WOMEN RANKING
1. Samantha Stosur 50
2. Alicia Molik 57
3. Nicole Pratt 75
4. Anastasia Rodionova 78
5. Casey Dellacqua 85
6. Jarmila Gajdosova 143