Russian joins Australia's Wimbledon bid
June 17, 2008
AS STRUGGLING former top-10 pair Alicia Molik and Jelena Dokic join the lower-profile hopefuls in Wimbledon qualifying at Roehampton later today,
Australia's confirmed representation in next week's grand slam tournament has been swelled by the All England club's recognition of Anastasia Rodionova's permanent residency.
Russian-born Rodionova will now officially join world No. 41 Casey Dellacqua and wildcard Sam Stosur as Australians in the main draw. Molik, the national No. 2, was overlooked yesterday for the final Wimbledon singles wildcard in favour of China's Jie Zheng, and must try to qualify from a field that also includes Dokic
and Slovakian-born Jarmila Gajdosova.
Inflexible — and, for professional athletes, impractical — immigration rules prevent either Rodionova or Gajdosova from obtaining the Australian citizenship necessary to facilitate a permanent change to their country status for tennis purposes. Both played under the Australian flag at Melbourne Park this year, before being obliged to revert to their original European status on the WTA Tour, which follows International Tennis Federation guidelines.
But the grand slam tournaments can effectively make their own rules, and Rodionova last week received written confirmation from Wimbledon referee Andrew Jarrett that her request for the letters (AUS) to follow her name had been approved, if only at SW19. Tennis Australia continues to lobby on behalf of Rodionova and Gajdosova, a full Australian Institute of Sport scholarship-holder.
Among the men, there are six Australians trying to join 27th-ranked Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione (79th) in the Wimbledon main draw. Qualifying seeds Alun Jones (20) and Joe Sirianni (29) were among the hopefuls, as were Robert Smeets, Adam Feeney, Andrew Coelho and Colin Ebelthite when play began last night. Peter Luczak is injured.
Also missing, but happily so, was Victorian Sam Groth, who plays British wildcard Jamie Baker in the first round of the Wimbledon warm-up event in Nottingham today. Groth upset world No. 40 Janko Tipsarevic to qualify for his first ATP tournament, serving 18 aces to record his best result.
What the hell is up with our media? It's like they have absolutely no clue